BRUVS in False Bay
False Bay, South Africa
To deploy Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) in False Bay, providing the first comprehensive survey of fish and sharks across all habitats.
Why this is important:
South African inshore fisheries collectively account for the capture of over 600 fish and shark species, but the logistics associated with long-term monitoring mean that the conservation status of less than 20 of these species is adequately assessed. BRUV technology represents a more cost-effective, time-efficient method of data collection with a low environmental impact that can be used for long-term ecosystem assessments.
Current monitoring techniques in South Africa (SCUBA surveys and controlled angling surveys) are expensive, reliant on skilled labour, and usable only to certain depths and in particular ocean conditions.
BRUV technology is evolving rapidly as camera technology becomes more affordable and increases in resolution quality. The concept is simple: fish are attracted within the field of view of an underwater camera, and the footage is brought ashore to be analysed. The use of GoPro HD cameras attached to easy-to-deploy rigs takes advantage of easy-to-access technology and adds an innovative tool to existing monitoring methods. To maximise data collection, multiple camera rigs are buoyed off to film fish in the Bay simultaneously, for one hour each. The development of this methodology will provide conservation agencies and marine protected area managers with a time-efficient tool that eliminates some of the obstacles that currently hinder sustainable monitoring of our fish populations.
This False Bay survey will directly impact the future of affordable, sustainable underwater monitoring in South Africa. Beyond its scientific scope and relevance, the project will impact the way marine environments – and particularly MPAs – are understood and accessed by the public. Video footage used as scientific data plays an equally important role in education, making False Bay and its life a tangible reality that the public is both privy to, and responsible for. This project offers a phenomenal opportunity to close a gap between scientists, fishers and the public, while obtaining sound scientific data that will guide conservation decisions in one of South Africa’s most utilised and valuable coastal bays.
Aims and Objectives
The general aim of the project is to provide a video-based survey of sharks and fishes in False Bay, with the following objectives:
- Obtaining measures of species richness and community composition of sharks and fishes in False Bay.
- Assessing relative abundance of commercially targeted and conservation-interest species.
- Providing educational videos of False Bay’s marine life.
Monitoring. It’s a keyword that is often bandied about in conservation circles. “Effective long-term monitoring” is needed to keep track of our conservation efforts, our “resources”, our “dwindling” fish stocks, to make “informed decisions”... but I wonder how often it…
I have a bit of a confession to make. Somewhere, in the midst of nearly 300 hours of footage we’ve collected using our BRUVs to date, I forgot about some hidden gems I’ve been meaning to share for some time!…
Finding sharks on our cameras has become an event of a most philosophical nature for me. For every curious glance they give our cameras, for every thrill of excitement their regal presence brings, there is some flicker on sadness reflected…
Another 95 hours worth of filming across False Bay, and our summer survey is complete. A puffadder shyshark confronts the camera The data collected during this period will provide a valuable comparison for the data we collected in winter, to…
I recently presented at the SOS Shark Centre’s marine conservation speaker series, and decided once again that images and video could speak far more eloquently to the point (and poignancy) of my work here in False Bay. My greatest concern,…