The Camera-Based Assessment Survey System (C-BASS)

ST. PETERSBURG - With support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, scientists and technicians from the College of Marine Science and its Center for Ocean Technology, led by 
Steve Murawski and Chad Lembke, have developed a unique towed camera array system (C-BASS) to allow high resolution sampling of reef fishes and simultaneous habitat evaluations.  The primary motivation for the development of C-BASS is to develop absolute abundance estimates of reef fishes such as red snapper for use in setting fishery total allowable catch quotas.


Our system is equipped to process and record video from both analog and digital video cameras and currently 6 cameras are filming simultaneously. Environmental and system data sampled from an altimeter, compass, CTD, and fluorometer are also recorded.   There is a laser system used to calibrate size measurements of the scenes being filmed and a Didson forward-looking sonar to detect fish movements in response to the C-BASS.  The system was designed to operate in up to 250 meters of water (about 800 feet) but with modifications can be used much deeper.  Two custom manufactured Bridgelux 85 watt array LED lights provide illumination for the video cameras during low light deployments. Scientific sensors, including a WETLabs FLNTU fluorometer and a Falmouth Scientific 2” Micro-CTD are installed on the frame in order to better understand the environmental aspects of the assessment.  An altimeter is also mounted to the frame to ensure proper platform height above the seabed.

Initial trials and experiments with C-BASS have indicated that this system is highly capable of imaging reef fishes and assessing the habitat requirements of fishes encountered.  This system has the potential to revolutionize the assessment and management of fisheries for reef fishes in Florida and throughout tropical areas of the world.

Underwater robots will assess grouper population

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -USF Researchers will see if robots gliding through the Gulf collecting fishery data performs better than more traditional collection tools like fixed receivers. Chad Lembke is adding extra sensors on autonomous gliders that will move underwater for months at a time. Adding extra features like tag telemetry provides specific fish identification and its becoming the fastest emerging technology to count fish. Gliders provide continuous surveillance around the clock and reach areas too sensitive for trawls.

Ocean observing needs continuous real time data and this has typically focused on physical observing systems like buoys, HF radars that feed into models. But to get spatial information, these robots will act like pick-up trucks cutting through the ocean collecting more than just physical parameters. For the first time USF oceanographers will look at red grouper over a long period of time along the 30-60 m isobath over the Gulfstream Natural Gas pipeline. Echosounders will look at fish size and determine species level classification.

Surviving The Storm: A Storm Team 8 Special

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Throughout society, the use of robots for work too difficult or costly for humans has increased dramatically in recent decades.  In the marine environment, one such platform, the autonomous underwater profiling glider, is tailored to efficiently collect data throughout the water column, over weeks to months while traversing hundreds to thousands of kilometers while sending valuable data back to researchers several times a day.


USF's glider fleet has been used over the past six years to monitor a wide variety of oceanographic research.  From harmful algal blooms to circulation model and satellite imagery validation to grouper population monitoring and tracking tagged sharks to searching for dispersed oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we have hundreds of glider days collecting a suite of sensor data.  One new area of potential research is the use of these robots during hurricanes.

Surviving The Storm: A Storm Team 8 Special

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