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2023 Year in Review - Counting More Fishes

2023 did not slow down after a successful 2022. Blue Abacus BRUVS Expedition Boxes were delivered to Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands bringing the number of Overseas Territories participating in the Global Ocean Wildlife Analysis Network (GOWAN) to thirteen. Expedition Boxes were also sent to numerous partners outside the GOWAN programme including the University of Qatar and Maldives Marine Research Institute. Even more BRUVS equipment was delivered to University of Malta, Plymouth University, National Geographic, the Save our Seas Foundation and more.

In February Jason rejoined the team on Grand Cayman for two weeks of midwater BRUVS deployments resulting in over 140 hours of video obtained. In addition to these deployments, the team starting experimenting with three dimensional footage for use with 3D headsets. While we do not use the 3D footage for scientific analysis, it is a fantastic tool for education and community outreach. The modular nature of Blue Abacus BRUVS allows us to add 3D cameras without interfering with the original calibrated stereo camera system used to identify, count and measure marine life.

Matthew Southgate from Cayman Department of Environment sharing 3D underwater video with school children from Cayman Prep School on Smith Road for their Cayman Day Event.

Also in February, Jessica was appointed as the Wen Family Chair in Conservation at the University of Western Australia, a position that will further support her efforts in global ocean conservation. In March, Jessica joined Viking's m/v Octantis during it's Antarctic polar expedition. In addition to training and deployments with the science team, Jessica provided several educational lectures to the guests on board about the importance of BRUVS and how they can improve our understanding of the ocean life.

The Cayman Department of Environment did another survey in May near Twelve Mile Bank. Video footage captured this incredible Oceanic White Tip shark. Oceanic White Tips are critically endangered and it is estimated that their population has plummeted by as much as 98% in the last 60 years.

In July Jason did another training survey, this time with the Departments of Marine Resources and Conservation on Bermuda. Extreme weather interfered with the first planned training session, however both midwater and seabed deployments were ultimately completed around Bermuda including at the grouper spawning grounds, an area of particular interest.

Left: Phil Warboys - Bermuda Department of Conservation

In August Jessica once again joined Viking Expeditions, this time on the Great Lakes from Toronto to Milwaukee. Deployments were done in Canadian waters of Lakes Huron and Superior, the first ever BRUVS research in the Great Lakes. The Blue Abacus BRUVS are easily usable in fresh water with no need to make changes to the equipment. Jessica also delivered lectures and education aboard the science-focused vessel.

Jessica deploying BRUVS rig - Lake Superior

We also saw some wonderful results from JNCC in the UK in September. JNCC used the newly developed lights installed in the Blue Abacus BRUVS to get some fantastic night time footage.

In addition to the surveys where either Jason or Jessica worked directly with field teams, other field teams were constantly deploying rigs around the world. Between 2021 and 2023, the GOWAN programme completed 21 surveys and 832 BRUVS deployments. This resulted in Blue Abacus identifying 35,901 individuals and 462 taxa of ocean wildlife just for the GOWAN programme alone. Given our other partnerships with Universities and NGOs we are confident that by the end of 2023 well over 40,000 individuals had been counted.

At the end of 2023 over 300 BRUVS rigs had been built and delivered by Blue Abacus to partners around the world.

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