6 April 2021
The ocean wildlife and diverse ecosystems of St Helena and other UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) will soon be more visible than ever thanks to pioneering work to establish a major network of underwater camera deployments known as the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network.
Funded as part of the UK Government Blue Belt Programme, St Helena Government’s Marine Section will work with scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), the University of Western Australia and Blue Abacus, in a world first to supply and analyse the data collected from 66 non-intrusive stereo-Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS), which will be deployed in open ocean and coastal habitats.
Consisting of two small action cameras embedded within a base bar, a bait arm and a vertical upright, BRUVS record all animals that appear in the cameras’ overlapping field of view. The first BRUVS were deployed in the early 2000s to document the fish communities in shallow coastal waters, expanding in 2014 to open ocean monitoring. Since then Professor Meeuwig’s University of Western Australia team has completed over 70 surveys in 35 international locations, obtaining records for more than 140,000 animals.
The BRUV camera systems will allow St Helena and other UK’s Overseas Territories to see below the surface and provide a benchmark of scientific understanding of the marine species within their maritime area, allowing the more informed decisions about protecting and managing the marine ecosystems. Other UKOTs involved in the project are Anguilla, Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, and Tristan da Cunha.
This initiative builds on progress to date through the Blue Belt Programme to improve our 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.
#StHelena #BlueBeltProgramme #BRUVS
6 April 2021