Shallow Water Lander

Shallow Water Lander: Surveying Deeper Portions of Marine Protected Areas

The state of California began implementing a statewide network of 124 Marine Protected Areas in 2007, starting with central California. Southern California implemented their network of MPAs in 2012. While a number of these MPAs have been surveyed annually by SCUBA, these surveys are typically limited to water shallower than 30 m. In order to better inform marine resource managers, we have developed a set of drop camera tools, dubbed 'mini-landers' to survey portions of Marine Protected Areas beyond SCUBA depths. Our in situ surveys couple SCUBA surveys with newly developed drop camera surveys. By utilizing both survey methods, we can evaluate the reliability and cost-effectiveness of our new drop camera method. It is also our goal to test the effectiveness of crowd-sourcing and citizen-science approaches to analyzing video data. Involving members of the public can both increase trust in science-driven management as well as increase the sense of shared ownership with our natural resources.

Research Objectives:

1. To test new, inexpensive video tools, evaluate their effectiveness and assess the potential for citizen science application in video analysis

2. Test metrics (species composition, length frequencies) obtained by mini-landers vs SCUBA surveys

3.  To provide the information collected to management agencies with recommendations for their use in fisheries management and MPA evaluation

Study Area:

The Santa Barbara Channel from Point Dume to Point Conception. This area was chosen because it has been extensively mapped by the California Seafloor Mapping Program (CSMP).

Citizen Science:

We are also testing whether crowdsourcing can be used to analyze large video data sets. We provide undergraduates with a fish and invertebrate identification booklet and a subset of our video data. We can then compare the accuracy and precision of their species identification with those of trained observers.

Looking forward:

Our mini-landers were successfully used in the Channel Islands to evaluate fish assemblages and to test metrics such as length and species composition. Our design has now been adopted by various other scientists who are surveying a variety of habitats across the globe. We plan to deploy our mini-landers this Fall around the Monterey Bay Peninsula in collaboration with CSUMB.