Surveying Queen Conch

Photo: Isla Mar

Photo: Isla Mar

Beginning in November 2016, Dr. Chelsea Tuohy assisted a group of researchers from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with their Saltonstall-Kennedy funded grant to compare diver and video surveys of queen conch (Lobatus gigas). The group, led by Ph.D. candidate Wilmelie Cruz and supervised by Dr. Brad Stevens, have developed a "sled" to tow behind research vessels that is outfitted with a high-tech video system to record what the sled encounters while it is towed along the seafloor.

Traditional surveys of queen conch populations have been conducted using divers with propulsion devices (underwater scooters) who conduct a pre-determined transect in search of the queen.

Dr. Tuohy assisted the group by training the divers in the current methods of assessing conch age and size, as well as the traditional method used to survey them.

Photo: Wilmelie Cruz

Photo: Wilmelie Cruz

Wilmelie and her team were successful at completing their surveys with both diver and video-assisted. Now she continues the project by analyzing their video to search for conch within the images. She is looking to determine if this method could be a more viable option for rapid assessment of conch, as divers are limited to the number of dives they can accomplish in one day, and also limited by depth.

The team will return to Puerto Rico next year, and Isla Mar will be ready to assist again! If you have a project on the island, contact us for field assistance and project management. We know the "ins and outs" of conducting science here, and this information proves to be a valuable asset to the swift and timely completion of your project. Talk to us!