Dr. Jeff Marliave, vice president of marine science at the Vancouver Aquarium, devised a concept for a simple system that would obtain remote video images at precise depths and locations. The device consists of an oceanographic cable supporting a weighted array of three cameras and three floodlights. The concept was so simple that the UBC Engineering Physics laboratory could not offer it as a student project, so instructor Bernhardt Zender offered to design and build the system himself.
Repeated trials failed to obtain images other than mud or rock because of various deployment flaws in flotation and anchorage of the device. Finally, though, on August 29 a series of successful deployments at a long-term research site yielded positive results. In each case, only one of the three cameras happened to catch images of rockfishes, and the observations were fleeting. Nonetheless, a team of two staff was able to obtain video from depths that would normally require a dive team of four persons (two divers, one standby diver because of the deep nature of the dive, and one safety tender on the boat). Furthermore, this system is capable of exceeding the allowable dive depth of 40 metres (130 feet) imposed by our safety policies.
The location of the camera deployment was near Starboat Cove at Lighthouse Park (Point Atkinson), a site in West Vancouver where the Aquarium had transplanted black rockfish over a decade period. The video below shows the camera footage of black rockfish offspring from the original transplant population. These offspring have settled in abundance at nearby Bird Islets, and we hope to someday see a full repopulation of this important ecosystem member in Howe Sound and Vancouver Harbour.