The waiting game of baited camera rigs

ImageYesterday was my first chance to hit the water for a proper research trip, assisting a Deakin PhD student named Richard with his sampling of offshore areas near the Warrnambool breakwall.

The six camera rigs (one shown above) were set up with two cameras on different sized metal supports (to allow for readings of both sandy and rocky seafloor areas), with recording running for 60 minutes at a time. The light setup enabled the cameras to focus on the area around the bait pouches, where hopefully a variety of fish would congregate over the next hour.

Cameras were dropped inside marine parks and also within a 250m radius, as one of the funding bodies wanted data on counts for fish including sweep, snapper, bream and Australian salmon to analyse the effectiveness of marine park sanctuaries.

Over almost 10 hours on a local crayfish boat, another first-year and myself became proficient in baiting, dropping and retrieving the rigs while coping with some sizeable waves hitting the reefs near the inshore drop points. Then the next 45 minutes or so were spent learning as much as we could from the captain, a long-time crayfisherman, and Richard about the reasons for the research, how local crayfish quota system operates and the best local fishing and surfing spots.

It was also a good day to reflect on what I was doing at the same time two months ago – sitting at a desk in a steel and glass Melbourne CBD office building, wishing I was out on a boat somewhere looking at sealife like the friendly Australian fur seal below, who followed us for 40 minutes between drops. Image

The only difficulty we faced during the day occurred when one of the camera rig become wedged under a reef ledge, which called for a quick run back into the jetty to pick up snorkel gear and then a dive down 12 feet to shift the rig.

I don’t have any results to add here yet as Richard has another 30 hours of footage to analyse from yesterday’s drop but hope he’ll let me use a few minutes of footage soon. The water clarity should make for some interesting viewing, though the presence of three seals close to drop points during the trip may reduce the number of fish hanging around.

Overall it was a pretty fascinating look into a standard research trip, complete with the obstacles and sometimes boring downtime faced during a full day on the water.


About oceanicexplorer

Posted on March 30, 2012, in boating, exploration, fishing, photography, research, science, Warrnambool and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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