Technological Workshop - Breakthrough Technologies Advancing Diving-Based Research

Convener: Martin Sayer, Tritonia Scientific Ltd., Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratories, Dunbeg, Oban, Scotland

This 3-hour workshop is designed to evaluate the progress that has been made since an ESF-sponsored conference held in 2014, entitled: “Breakthrough technologies to advance diving-based underwater research in the next decade”.  The present workshop shall summarize some of the advances made in the last 8 years and examine how they are currently being used.  There will also be an opportunity to investigate the next 10 years and consider what techniques and technologies will become available to enhance the scientific delivery that can only be supported using diving.

PART 1: What were the ESF breakthrough technologies and have they advanced diving-based research?

  • A summary of the ESF meeting conclusions and where we are now 

PART 2: Current advanced technologies

  • Photogrammetry, Georeferencing, Saturation diving, Rebreathers

PART 3: The next 10 years

  • Divers as data collectors, Getting more from smart technologies, Open discussion on any other topics


Methodological WorkshopHow to survey fish assemblages in subtidal rocky reefs and other shallow structurally complex habitats? Discussing methodological standards to trigger European research and monitoring networks

Convener: Pierre Thiriet, PatriNat (OFB, MNHN, CNRS, IRD), Dinard Marine Biological Station (National Museum of Natural History), Dinard, Northern Brittany, France

To assess and monitor fish assemblages in coastal structurally complex habitats (e.g. coral reefs, rocky reefs, seagrass meadows), the oldest methods are artisanal fisheries surveys and experimental fishing. Following Brock’s seminal paper in 1954, fish underwater visual census (UVC) by using open-circuit Scuba, has become rapidly the most used method worldwide. The recent democratization of closed-circuit rebreather in scientific diving offers opportunities to improve UVC efficiency and safety. Besides UVC, video-based methods are becoming more and more popular since a couple of decades, and could soon be highly cost-effective thanks to constant progress in computer vision-based automatic fish species recognition. More recently, biophony and environmental DNA analyses emerged as useful complements to assess fish species distributional patterns (but not fish body-size spectra). Finally, recent technological advances such as sea floor photogrammetry and underwater positioning systems allow - while using UVC or DOV - sampling fine scale environmental covariates useful to understand fish distributional patterns (in situ, and in silico through GIS, respectively).

European countries have been following theses methodological trends, but have never elaborated consensual methodological standards. This raises data-compatibility issues in global studies that pool surveys to gain further understanding of fish ecology and biogeography, and broad ecological effects of anthropogenic stressors including global warming. This is urgent to work together in order to elaborate a common long-term research and monitoring strategy. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive as well as Regional Seas Conventions, which obligate countries to share methodological standards, may be seen as great opportunities to trigger international collaborative works (policy-oriented, and supported) toward synergistic research and monitoring networks.


Part 1: What (combination of) fish survey protocols(s) would be the most suitable to build a long term European research and monitoring network for fish assemblages living in coastal complex habitats?

To address this question, every WS participant will be welcome to provide an overview of what are the most common method(s) in his/her region, and why. Then we will discuss about pro and cons of each method, and their compatibility as regards the distinct environmental conditions that come across European Coastal Waters (habitat structure, underwater visibility, currents, etc.). Ultimately, we will try to identify a combination of complementary methods that could be standardized at European scale thanks to their versatility (e.g. eDNA, biophony) and/or at bioregional scales due to local environmental conditions (e.g. visual census by Scuba).


Part 2: Offshore wind farm monitoring

Offshore wind farms are spreading out in European waters. They include complex artificial structures that may have important ecological effects on fish assemblage, through so called artificial reef effect, reserve effect, stepping stone effect, as well effects due to natural habitat loss, light, noise and electromagnetic disturbances. To assess and monitor such effects, are existing survey protocols appropriate, and/or do we need to adapt/develop new protocols?


      ©Pierre Thiriet, PatriNat



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