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Underwater Drones Improving Shellfish Aquaculture

Deep Trekker has led the way for mini-ROVs in the aquaculture industry around the globe. The low cost, complete portability and ease of use, have already made the Deep Trekker DTG2 ROV the "go-to tool" for finfish farms around the world. (For a recap on the top mini-ROV uses on aquaculture sites follow the link here.)

After reading a few articles or visiting a farm site, it is very obvious why Deep Trekker ROVs are ideal for inspecting net pen systems and monitoring species like salmon and trout. What about ROVs and other forms of aquaculture? Shellfish farmers don’t use nets and pen systems to grow their stock. They rely on cages and lines to grow species like mussels, shrimp and other shellfish.

While not the same as finfish aquaculture operations, shellfish farmers still face a number of challenges that can be solved using micro-ROVs like the DTG2 ROV system. Checking for the presence or absence of fouling organisms, choosing farm sites, checking traps, and monitoring lines are all applications for which mini-ROVs are easy to use.

Checking for Fouling Organisms

Fouling is the accumulation of organisms, plants, algae, or animals on a wetted surface. In shellfish operations, the fouling of plankton and larvae are extremely common.

Fouling is actually how some stocks like mussels grow. However other fouling organisms can actually impede and affect shellfish farmers’ operations. Shellfish operations involve growing the crop on surfaces that are ready to be colonized. Species like plankton and free swimming larvae may settle on the surface area and grow through their next stages of development. This can cause major problems for shellfish growers as these fouling organisms compete for food and oxygen or interfere with the culture effort of their stocks.

In order to maintain healthy shellfish operations, farmers should monitor fouling to ensure that their stock is not compromised by these organisms. A micro-ROV like Deep Trekker’s DTG2 system easily assists shellfish growers in checking their operations every day. Fouling organisms can be identified without having to jump in the water or hire divers. This leads to reduction in costs and helps avoid or limit damage to stocks.

Choosing Sites

Proper site selection is vital to the success of shellfish operations and will ensure that environmental impacts are limited. Similar to finfish operations, benthic testing, the immediate ecosystem, the surrounding environment and oxygen levels must all be considered when choosing the optimum site to begin operations.

With a DTG2 ROV, divers are not required to inspect and check these factors. Sediment and water samplers attached to the ROV can allow operation managers to test the surrounding environments while also capturing video footage of the area to determine the feasibility of the site. Once operations have begun, the ROV can also be used to do periodic tests to ensure that the operations are not harming the surrounding environments.

Monitoring Lines and Cages

The DTG2 ROV is perfect for monitoring the underwater facility and stocks in general. Shellfish operations can involve species growing in cages or along lines. To ensure that the stocks are growing properly and not being targeted by predators, daily inspections are an easy and essential way to keep operations running smoothly. Daily inspections might seem like an onerous task. However a Deep Trekker ROV can be deployed from whatever vessel or platform is on hand, be it a kayak or large boat. Within seconds farmers can have an accurate visual assessment of their crop.

Keeping an eye on the life cycle of the shellfish is vital to a healthy, high yield. To ensure that stocks are not being harvested before they are ready, the Deep Trekker ROV can check the traps and save a significant amount of time over pulling up individual cages to monitor species growth and health.

These are just a few suggestions for mini-ROVs in shellfish operations.

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