MScience conducted a restricted habitat mapping exercise on behalf of Robe River Mining to confirm the type and location of a benthic habitat class mapped and identified previously by satellite. Transects were recorded through field use of a drop camera and video. Habitat type within the transects were assigned a class by experienced marine scientists and the data used to update a GIS of habitats of the area.
This research was conducted in Dampier Marine Park under license number PA2020-00079, issued by the Director of National Parks, Australia.
The survey was completed between 11 and 13 January 2021 using a drop camera system with live surface feed to capture high definition downwards-facing video footage. A GPS track was recorded during drop camera deployment to allow geo-referencing of the imagery for the purposes of relating the data back to the existing habitat map. Survey sites were pre-determined and positioned within and at the boundaries of the ‘unconfirmed coral’ habitat. A single transect was surveyed at each location within a 100 m radius area of the predetermined site. Transects were typically between 100 – 300 m long and surveyed at a speed of <2kt.
Qualitative analysis of the video footage was completed in real time to provide a general description of the communities and habitats observed along each transect. Post survey, the recorded video footage was analysed further and the transects were classified based on the habitat and substrate types found. When observed, the average percentage of mixed benthos cover along a transect was estimated if possible. Assessments were conducted by qualified marine scientists with greater than 10 years’ experience in mapping habitats of the Pilbara.