Underwater cameras to watch-over UKOT sea life

| 06/04/2021 | 4 Comments
Loggerhead turtle visits a BRUVS camera (Photo by Blue Abacus)

(CNS): The UK is funding a network of underwater cameras across its overseas territories to keep a watchful eye on the sea life and collect data to help in the conservation battle. The Cayman Islands will be included in the rollout of non-intrusive stereo-Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), which will be deployed in open ocean and coastal habitats. The cameras will form the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network, which will provide information on biodiversity and ecosystems across the territories, from the Caribbean down to the Antarctic, providing researchers with a benchmark of scientific understanding of the marine species to inform conservation decisions.

A press release from the UK government explained that the cameras from Blue Abacus will collect data on the status of both open ocean and reef species, letting scientists and the UKOTs set benchmarks for diversity and abundances. This will form valuable information on the many migratory species of open ocean and coastal reef fish, assist in the management of data-poor fisheries and improve understanding of the functioning of pelagic and benthic ecosystems.

The project, which is being funded as part of the UK Government Blue Belt programme, allows scientists from the UK Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the University of Western Australia and partners in the UKOTs to work with Blue Abacus to gather and analyse the data collected from 66 BRUVS cameras.

Cofounder of Blue Abacus and Professor at the University of Western Australia, Jessica Meeuwig, said, “The world’s tunas, sharks and large reef fish continue to decline in numbers and this trend must be reversed. This programme will give decision makers the evidence they need to act decisively in support of their blue economies.”

Dr Paul Whomersley, Cefas project lead, said it was a world first that will enable better understanding of “…the biodiversity, functioning and connectivity of these ocean areas, while providing valuable and necessary data to inform and develop UKOTs marine management and protection strategies.”

Here in Cayman, Tim Austin, Deputy Director, Research and Assessment, at the Department of Environment, said their team was very excited about the opportunity to take part in the project, which will bring the BRUV network into the Caribbean region for the first time.

“Nearshore benthic BRUVs have been an important research tool for informing marine species and protected area management in the Cayman Islands,” he said. “The opportunity to take this technology further offshore will greatly enhance the Cayman Islands’ ability to implement meaningful and effective conservation regimes for this data limited, poorly understood, but crucially important ecosystem.”

Other territory scientists are also keen to be involved and over the next few months, complete sets of carbon-fibre stereo-BRUVS and associated equipment will be delivered to them to begin the installation.

This initiative builds on progress to date through the Blue Belt programme to improve on understanding of the marine environment of the UKOTs, and to ensure these diverse ecosystems are protected and managed for future generations. Through the programme, the UKOTs have put in place large-scale marine protection and management measures which cover an area of over four million square kilometres, the release stated.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thats a great idea for some of the dive shops to invest in placing some underwater video cameras to bring back customers to their boat operations on island. We have many company owners who are well qualified and with enough money. Cement a base that could withstand some of the Northwesters passing by. A small mechanism to see 360 degree around and solar powered battery and offer lighting for night diving. The next thing is people and children would come and dive with your company if we could see your company name? How about getting that as an incentive to get new students to go with mom and dad diving? What would it cost a couple thousand dollar each?

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. Let’s start selling our natural advantages better and capturing the imaginations of home-bound tourists. Who are we waiting to do this better than the Cayman Islands, when we are home of the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame? Let’s get that attraction facility open too!

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the dive shops has had this for years. Not sure its the money-maker you think it will be. (They did it more as a community outreach I believe. For that reason.)

  2. Anonymous says:

    In the recreational dive zone to 120ft, it would be outstanding for our Tourism Brand and Revenue, to have a Cayman Islands Underwater App streaming 24/7 live camera feeds from select feature attractions…Kittiwake, Orange Canyon, Bloody Bay Wall. No bait traps necessary. There are certainly enough interesting spots and idle dive industry workers to service these. If I was sitting at a desk in Seattle, I’d be streaming that in a corner window on my work computer, dreaming of Cayman Islands dive vacation time. If they can’t come to us, bring it to them. Select 3D VR 360 immersive footage would be even better. PADI would feature it to our target market for free.

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