TOWNSVILLE (AUSTRALIA)- In august the first ever global survey of sharks, rays and skates in coral reef environments using underwater cameras will kick off.

In the research technology called baited remote underwater video (Bruv) is used to take one hour of underwater footage, capturing marine life. Bruvs, which are non-harmful, consist of shark bait with one or two GoPro cameras. They will be placed underwater at depths of 10-100m, in 400 locations across three key geographic regions: Indo-Pacific, tropical western Atlantic, and southern and eastern Africa and Indian Ocean islands.

The three year study will include Australian locations in the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, and the Scott and Ningaloo reefs of Western Australia.

One of the scientists on the project, Dr Mark Meekan from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said this was the first time a comprehensive data set was being created by a global network of collaborators. Not only the number and different types of sharks and rays are to be counted, but also fish and – where possible – the size and maturity of the animals.

Sharks were chosen for the study as they were “uniquely vulnerable” to human pressures, Meekan said. Compared to fish, female sharks give birth to relatively few pups, and these pups take a long time to reach maturity. They are also the apex predators in marine environments, and their very presence alters and regulates the food chain.

See underwater footage of Bruvs: