We describe the “FishCam”, a low-cost (500 USD) autonomous camera package to record videos and images underwater. The system is composed of easily accessible components and can be programmed to turn ON and OFF on customizable schedules. Its 8-megapixel camera module is capable of taking 3280 × 2464-pixel images and videos. An optional buzzer circuit inside the pressure housing allows synchronization of the video data from the FishCam with passive acoustic recorders. Ten FishCam deployments were performed along the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, from January to December 2019. Field tests demonstrate that the proposed system can record up to 212 h of video data over a period of at least 14 days. The FishCam data collected allowed us to identify fish species and observe species interactions and behaviors. The FishCam is an operational, easily-reproduced and inexpensive camera system that can help expand both the temporal and spatial coverage of underwater observations in ecological research. With its low cost and simple design, it has the potential to be integrated into educational and citizen science projects, and to facilitate learning the basics of electronics and programming.

Project Author(s)

Xavier Mouy

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