The primary aim of this field manual is to establish a consistent sampling protocol for marine benthic assemblages using ROVs and to facilitate statistically sound research to allow comparisons between studies. This manual will focus on the use of ROVs for the collection of still and video imagery of fish and associated seabed habitats but consider researchers may use them for other purposes as detailed in Table 10.1. We also consider all ROV classes here and provide some guidance around the limitations associated with each class. The document leverages the expertise of the working group focusing on still and video imagery (Chapters 4 and 7 for example, but see Table 10.1 for a brief summary of additional uses for ROVs). The scope of the manual covers equipment, pre-survey preparation, field procedures, and post-survey procedure for using ROVs to photographically and videographically survey seabed assemblages (including fishes) found within Australia’s vast marine estate.

Table 10.1. Additional uses of ROVs in monitoring the marine environment that are not covered in this manual (modified from McLean et al. 2020).

Payload Description
CTD Seawater temperature and salinity depth profiles
Bio-optical sensors Fluorescence and backscatter (turbidity) sensor
Light meter Upwelling and downwelling light, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR)
Dissolved oxygen sensor Dissolved oxygen concentrations
pH sensor Water column pH
Water sampler Water column samples for microbes, nutrients, pollutants, chlorophyll using bottle samplers
Acoustic telemetry, Hydrophones/passive acoustics Detection of tagged and untagged animals, migration patterns, connectivity
Scanning/Imaging sonar Bathymetry, structural complexity
Sediment Corers/grabs Sedimentology or biogeochemistry e.g. particle size, sediment chemistry
Faunal traps Deployment and retrieval of baited traps for sampling of mobile fauna, including fish and invertebrates
Faunal sampling In situ sampling of sessile and mobile fauna, including pelagic and demersal fish and benthic invertebrates