Mapping the Marine WorldLatest update February 8, 2019 Started on October 1, 2018
Good planning for conservation needs a strong understanding of the system you’re hoping to protect. This includes having accurate maps and knowledge of the species in the areas you’re trying to protect. There is a huge challenge in mapping underwater environments. There are tools (like remote sensing, SCUBA surveys, and techniques like manta tows) that work well in clear waters and shallow areas. But what about those areas that are too deep, too cloudy, or too vast to survey with these approaches? Perhaps new technologies like Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (also called ROVs or drones) might help with surveying large areas rapidly. We will be testing the use of these units and developing protocols to see if and how they can be used to gather substrate information over a large scale to inform conservation planning.
Hey all, please see my video for the first test run of the Open ROV in Byron Bay Australia. I took my kayak out to see if I could find an offshore reef. I found it the first drop! This was good practice as I head to Myanmar next week to undertake some research to inform a new marine protected area.
We aim to rapidly map and measure ecosystems and their condition at 2 or 3 pilot sites to understand how to best apply a new technology: Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (also called ROVs or drones). We will first test the units in Australia within the Byron Bay Marine Protected Area. And then work with our colleagues in Myanmar to map ecosystems and their condition along Myanmar’s western coastline in Rakhine coast. We will complement this work with additional drone surveys to test their application and generate video clips which can used in outreach efforts. We also plan to test the units for mapping in other places. First step: pull together a survey design that we’ll test in Australia. Next step: apply this survey design to develop an ecosystem map and measure of ecosystem condition. This will allow us to use the approach for effective conservation planning. Within Myanmar we will survey no-take zones and other management areas in a new 280 square-mile inshore fisheries co-management pilot project area involving 10 coastal communities. This will help us identify important habitats and create a baseline for future monitoring and assessment of co-management effectiveness. It is likely that through this testing, we can then engage with other marine programs, including those of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Marine Program.
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