, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 213-226
Date: 05 Sep 2006

Video and acoustic camera techniques for studying fish under ice: a review and comparison

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Researchers attempting to study the presence, abundance, size, and behavior of fish species in northern and arctic climates during winter face many challenges, including the presence of thick ice cover, snow cover, and, sometimes, extremely low temperatures. This paper describes and compares the use of video and acoustic cameras for determining fish presence and behavior in lakes, rivers, and streams with ice cover. Methods are provided for determining fish density and size, identifying species, and measuring swimming speed and successful applications of previous surveys of fish under the ice are described. These include drilling ice holes, selecting batteries and generators, deploying pan and tilt cameras, and using paired colored lasers to determine fish size and habitat associations. We also discuss use of infrared and white light to enhance image-capturing capabilities, deployment of digital recording systems and time-lapse techniques, and the use of imaging software. Data are presented from initial surveys with video and acoustic cameras in the Sagavanirktok River Delta, Alaska, during late winter 2004. These surveys represent the first known successful application of a dual-frequency identification sonar (DIDSONTM) acoustic camera under the ice that achieved fish detection and sizing at camera ranges up to 16 m. Feasibility tests of video and acoustic cameras for determining fish size and density at various turbidity levels are also presented. Comparisons are made of the different techniques in terms of suitability for achieving various fisheries research objectives. This information is intended to assist researchers in choosing the equipment that best meets their study needs.