A visual survey technique for deep-water fishes: estimating anglerfish Lophius spp. abundance in closed areasa


  • aThis paper was presented at the 6th World Fisheries Congress, Edinburgh, in 2012 (sponsored by the FSBI). As a result, its content may not fall within the normal scope of the Journal of Fish Biology.

Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. Tel.: +44 1224 275435; email: fmcintyre@abdn.ac.uk


A visual survey technique was employed to estimate the abundance and distribution of anglerfish Lophius spp. in areas where destructive sampling methods, such as trawling, are unacceptable. To enable visual surveying at depths of over 300 m, a deep towed vehicle was developed equipped with video, lights and other sensors and was towed at speeds of up to 1·5 m s−1 and altitudes of up to 10 m (from the seabed) to survey large areas of the seabed around the Rockall Bank in the north-west Atlantic Ocean. The system allowed for areas up to 125 000 m2 to be surveyed, a substantial area comparable to that surveyed by demersal-trawl sampling. Lophius spp. densities ranged from 15 to 736 fish km−2; these are comparable to estimated Lophius spp. densities determined by trawl surveys in adjacent areas. Estimates of Lophius spp. abundance in the closed areas ranged between 99 855 and 176 887 for the time series considered (2007–2011).