F/V OCEAN REPORTERFishermen and Science in Collaboration
Summary of Baited Underwater Video Study
Evaluate and quantify fish in the Gulf of Maine with a baited underwater camera without damage to the marine habitat, and with no fish mortality or by-catch.
Three camera racks were built: A heavy-duty 45-pound rack for deep water and swift tides; a medium-duty, medium weight 25-pound rack, which was the most frequently used; and a 15-pound smaller version, for use from a skiff in shoal areas. Both color and black and white cameras were used. The best results were with low-light black and white cameras.
A variety of bait was used, i.e. mackerel, herring, clams, fish guts, salmon feed pellets, canned cat food and canned mackerel. Fresh clams and mackerel attracted the most fish.
Standard underwater diver's lights were the most cost-efficient and gave off the amount of light necessary. High-powered and infrared lights were also tried. The high-powered lights used too much voltage and the infrared light appeared to have some effect on the fish, indicating that some fish may see that spectrum. A 500-foot standard underwater video cable was used for the umbilical cord, with one 200-foot extension for very deep water.
The tests began in December after the dogfish migrated. 66 sets were made in the Gulf of Maine, with 6 of these in the G.O.M. Permanently Closed Area. The following fish were observed in these areas during the four-month study; cod, haddock, cusk, redfish, cunner, dogfish, silver hake, red hake, wolf fish, monkfish, blowfish, skate, scorpions, hagfish, as well as crabs, lobster, shrimp, mussels, scallops, sand dollars and starfish. Also recorded were marine vegetation, and bottom characteristics, i.e. mud, sand, rock and gravel. Tides were estimated and turbidity noted. This is the beginning of a scientific model to quantify the fish and marine life in the Gulf of Maine.
The baited video is now a part of are everyday tools used in the
study of marine habitat.