The Spatial Variation of Acoustic Water Column Data and Its Relationship with Reef-Associated Fish Recorded by Baited Remote Underwater Stereo-Videos off the Western Australia Coast
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Spatially explicit information on coral fish species abundance and distribution is required for effective management. Nonextractive techniques, including echosounders and video census, can be particularly useful in marine reserves where the use of extractive methods is restricted. This study aimed to investigate the possibility of combining echosounders and baited remote underwater stereo-videos (stereo-BRUVs) in providing more holistic information on the distribution of demersal and semidemersal reef-associated fish. The spatial distribution of fish biomass was assessed using both methods in two small areas, one in Cockburn Sound (CS), a temperate body of water, and the other in the tropical waters of the Ningaloo Marine Park (NMP). The results showed high correlations between the acoustic and stereo-BRUV data in CS, suggesting the potential use of both for a better estimation of biomass in the area. The results for the NMP showed weaker correlations between the two datasets and highlighted the high variability of the system. Further studies are required, but our initial findings suggest a potential benefit of combining both techniques in the reef-associated fish distribution assessment.
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