White Island fieldwork 

In March 2009, three Te Papa staff members of the Fish Section (Vincent Zintzen, Romain Crec’hriou and Carl Struthers) have been sampling the area around White Island in the Bay of Plenty. The objectives were to study the diversity of the fish fauna along this volcanic area at depth ranging from 50 to 1500m. To realize those objectives, two techniques were used: Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) and fish traps. A large number of deployments of both video and traps were done at each depth strata.

BRUVS have been deployed up to depth of 900m for 2-3 hours and gave great footage of the fish fauna of the area. The total image time recorded is about 200 hours. Reviewing the images at night allowed the team to be confident that the combination of camera systems and light are good enough to see and work on the fauna attracted to the bait.

Fish traps were successfully deployed at the different depths and caught at total amount of 250kg of fish.

Circular fish traps are 170 cm in diameter, weighting each about 120 kg. This weight is needed to sink them as quickly as possible to the bottom where they will start fishing. Circular fish trap
Rectangular fish traps are bigger and more complex than circular ones. They incorporate a ‘second chamber’ where the fish can migrate. If trapped in the second chamber, the fish escape rate strongly decreases. Rectangular trap
BRUVS and fish traps being set and recovered using buoy lines. Buoy lines
BRUVS and fish traps being set and recovered using buoy lines. Circular fish trap
The total length of rope used to deploy the different units totaled 10km. To deploy a trap or a video system at 900m, we needed a rope of 1400m. Preparing these ropes took a full day of work (3 people) to uncoil set into the dedicated storage bins. Rope
BRUVS and fish traps being set and recovered using buoy lines. Rectangular fish trap on buoy line
Example of specimen captured in the traps.
The giant hagfish is a species only known by one single other specimen in the past. Giant hagfish
Example of specimen captured in the traps.
Te Papa staff members working on taking pictures of fresh specimens at night. Taking pictures of fresh specimens
Te Papa staff members cleaning of the fish traps covered by the mucus produced by hagfishes. Cleaning the mucus
Te Papa staff members working on the preparation of the fresh bait. Preparing the fresh bait
Fish is stored in freezers before being transferred to Te Papa. Fish freezer
Fish are transfered to Te Papa where they will be identified, registered, databased, transferred to fixative and stored in the collection for future research. Off to Te Papa
BRUVS and fish traps on the bridge of the MV Tranquil Image, Western Workboats, the 72 foot crayfish boat used to deploy them. BRUVS and fish traps
Each baited remote underwater video system weights about 100 kg. BRUVS
Twin set of HD camera in special housing able to resist the incredible pressure found at these depths. BRUVS
We designed two models of traps, circular ones and rectangular multi-chamber ones. Fish traps on the deck of the Tranquil Image, West...


Photographs by Carl Struthers and Vincent Zintzen. Te Papa.