Integrating a Forward Looking Sonar on the Seabed AUV

PIFSC/CRED and NWFSC/FRAMD jointly own and operate a SeaBED AUV to collect
nonextractive, fishery independent data on insular fishes and to characterize habitats these fishes
utilize. Initial survey results show that motile animals such as demersal rockfishes can be easily
detected and that analysis of digital photographs captured by the SeaBED AUV can give
information on the distribution and abundance of rockfish that reside on the west coast of the
U.S. To further enhance its data collection capabilities to allow for the identification and
enumeration of demersal fishes as well as to describe potential behavioral modifications induced
by the SeaBED AUV, a forward-looking, low light video camera is currently in development.
We propose the integration of a high-resolution imaging sonar into the SeaBED AUV’s suite of
sensors to enable sizing of demersal fishes and to address the important issue of low ambient
light levels affecting video data collection during deep-water surveys or nighttime deployments.
This proposal covers the development and integration of the necessary hardware and software
components of BlueView Technolgies’ P900-130 high-resolution sonar into the SeaBED, further
enhancing the AUV’s data collection capabilities. These data can be used to help determine the
catchability coefficient Q for this survey gear and can help lead to abundance indices for fish
targeted in AUV surveys. Furthermore, the modified SeaBED AUV will allow for increased data
collection capabilities important for stock assessment and the determination of essential fish
habitat, providing a means for fishery-independent sampling below typical SCUBA diver depth,
at night, and at scales not feasible using conventional fishery-independent sampling techniques.