Use of AUVs to Inform Management of Deep-Sea Corals
National and international obligations to protect vulnerable species, communities, habitats, and ecosystems (VSCHEs) require greater attention as human uses extend to deeper water. These obligations increase the need for improved understanding of the distribution and abundance of VSCHEs to develop management actions. Data from low-speed vehicles that operate at the seafloor (e.g., remotely operated vehicles, camera sleds) predominate. These “low and slow” approaches, while providing high-resolution data, do not operate at the scale required for management. We suggest autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) flown at relatively high altitude and high speed over the seafloor as a “high and fast” approach to survey areas at the scale fisheries and other activities operate. We used REMUS 6000 AUVs to collect presence data for VSCHEs in a rapid assessment on Physalia Seamount. AUVs were programmed to collect digital images, side-scan sonar (120/410 kHz), and environmental parameters and could navigate a 40° slope. Our preliminary results of this approach, predicated on the assumption that coarse taxonomic resolution is adequate for management needs, indicates AUVs can be effective tools for large area surveys in short time periods.
Document Type: Technical Note
Publication date: January 1, 2014
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