A new towed underwater video system (TUVS), called ‘Pagure-2’ has been developped by Ifremer thanks to the JERICO-NEXT project, in order to map habitats, describe biodiversity, and monitor ecological changes in coastal benthic ecosystems.
For this purpose, we modified an existing TUVS (‘Pagure’) to expand the range of accessible benthic habitats, to get more stable footage on irregular rocky bottoms, and to investigate fragile ecosystems (e.g., marine protected areas) where impact has to be limited.
Thus, the Pagure-2 is a more versatile tool capable of being deployed on two different configurations: a classical ‘sledge’ mode with skates, and a ‘flying’ mode that reduces contact with the sea floor. It is easily deployable on small (~25 m) coastal vessels as well as large research vessels and was designed to cope with a 10-500 m operating depth range and with all kind of sea conditions and currents. It is also simple to use opportunistically on different kind of scientific cruises (benthic survey, fisheries stock assessment, hydrology, etc…) and without any dedicated specialist staff.
Pagure-2 proved to be a relevant imagery tool to get comprehensive insights into the integrity of benthic habitats of European coastal areas. The flying mode deployment will be tested at sea in next spring 2018 in the framework of our project. This less destructive configuration is particularly relevant to study benthic biodiversity in protected areas where disturbance has to be limited (e.g., maerl and seagrass beds, rocky bottoms with large erected benthic species).
Numerous applications should come in the next years, such as investigations of areas adversely affected by invasive species (e.g., Crepidula fornicata), human activities (bottom-trawling, sand-mining, marine renewable energy development).