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Abstract:

Small action cameras have received interest for use in underwater videography because of their low-cost, standardised housing, widespread availability and small size. Here, we assess the capacity of GoPro action cameras to provide accurate stereo-measurements of fish in comparison to the Sony handheld cameras that have traditionally been used for this purpose. Standardised stereo-GoPro and Sony systems were employed to capture measurements of known-length targets in a pool to explore the influence of the type of camera, distance to camera rig, angle to the optical axis and target speed on measurement accuracy. The capacity to estimate fish length in situ was also compared by measuring the same fish on a coral reef with two baited remote underwater video systems, each fitted with both a GoPro and a Sony camera system. Pool trials indicated that the GoPros were generally less accurate than the Sonys. Accuracy decreased with increased angles and distance for both systems but remained reasonably low (< 7.5%) at 5 m distance and 25° angle for GoPros. Speed of target movement did not result in any consistent decrease in accuracy. In situ measurements revealed a strong correlation (R2 = 0.94) between Sony and GoPro length measurements of the same individual fish, with a slope not different from 1 and an intercept not different from 0, suggesting that GoPro measurement errors do not result in a consistent bias at the level of individual fish. Moreover, the investigation of kernel density functions of the length distribution of the entire fish assemblage indicated that difference in measurement accuracy becomes negligible for purposes of comparing population size structure. We suggest a measurement protocol for the use of GoPro stereo-camera systems that improves accuracy, where distance to target is limited to 5 m and angle to optical axis is restricted to 25°. For distances up to 7 m, angles should be restricted to 15°. This protocol supports the use of small action cameras such as the GoPro system, providing reductions in cost and increases in effective sampling efforts, compared with traditional rigs based on relatively expensive handheld cameras.
 

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