Using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and image analysis in the study of large surface-associated marine species: a case study on reef sharks Carcharhinus melanopterus shoaling behaviour

Abstract : A novel image analysis-based technique applied to unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) survey data is described to detect and locate individual free-ranging sharks within aggregations. The method allows rapid collection of data and quantification of fine-scale swimming and collective patterns of sharks. We demonstrate the usefulness of this technique in a small-scale case study exploring the shoaling tendencies of blacktip reef sharks Carcharhinus melanopterus in a large lagoon within Moorea, French Polynesia. Using our approach, we found that C. melanopterus displayed increased alignment with shoal companions when distributed over a sandflat where they are regularly fed for ecotourism purposes as compared with when they shoaled in a deeper adjacent channel. Our case study highlights the potential of a relatively low-cost method that combines UAV survey data and image analysis to detect differences in shoaling patterns of free-ranging sharks in shallow habitats. This approach offers an alternative to current techniques commonly used in controlled settings that require time-consuming post-processing effort.
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https://hal-univ-perp.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01915593
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 5:27:33 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 7:10:52 AM

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Guillaume Rieucau, Jeremy Kiszka, Jose Carlos Castillo, Johann Mourier, Kevin Boswell, et al.. Using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and image analysis in the study of large surface-associated marine species: a case study on reef sharks Carcharhinus melanopterus shoaling behaviour. Journal of Fish Biology, Wiley, 2018, 93 (1), pp.119 - 127. ⟨10.1111/jfb.13645⟩. ⟨hal-01915593⟩

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