■ Researchers from Parks and Wildlife and the University of WA recently completed a 10-day field survey of the deeper-water fish communities of the Ningaloo Marine Park.
Using a technique known as Baited Remote Underwater stereo-Video, researchers surveyed fish communities with more than 400 baited camera systems dropped at 40-60m below sea level.
DPaW research scientist Tom Holmes said it was the second deep-water survey undertaken since 2013 that focused on the pressures faced by fish communities at Ningaloo.
“We can monitor shallow waters on a regular basis with scuba gear; however, most of the marine park is in deeper waters which requires the use of the BRUV system every two to four years,” he said.
“At Ningaloo we need to keep a tab on recreational fishing pressure and habitat change, as a lot of recreational fishing has moved offshore into deeper waters.
“We have a sanctuary zone in place and this study will help us gauge how effective these sanctuaries are at protecting the more mobile fish in deeper waters.”
Mr Holmes said the data collected would be analysed and used as part of ongoing monitoring programs in the region.
“From the videos we collected we can a relative measure of the number of fish in the frame and compare this with data collected in the future,” he said.