[Coral-List] ideas for creating a permanent photo platform

Bruce Carlson exallias2 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 19 23:20:00 UTC 2020

I have been observing a huge colony of Acropora yongei in the Solomon Islands since 1992.  Last year I intended to gather more easy-to-get quantitative information about it (area, maximum branch height off substratum, water depth, associated fish species, etc.).  However, the colony was completely destroyed in a storm last year.  Divers who went there found nothing but a field of smashed coral branches.  Cindy Hunter, Chuck Birkeland, and Alison Green documented what was left, and Cindy set up a GoPro camera in the same spot where I usually take video recordings.  She captured some video so I could see what was remaining.  Chuck Birkeland recorded a number of fragments that still had some living polyps, so there is a good chance this colony may begin to resurrect itself over time.

The reef site is in a rather remote location but one that is regularly visited by the dive boat, Bilikiki.  There is no way I can afford to go to this site every year to monitor recovery, but on the other hand, hundreds of underwater photographers go to this area every year and they could take photographs and video.  If properly set up, these “citizen scientists” might be able to capture this recovery over many years.  What would make it especially valuable, however, would be for each photographer to set her or his camera down in exactly the same orientation for every shot, year after year.  That means designing and installing some sort of simple platform upon which a camera could be placed and design it so the camera(s) would always be aimed at the same spot.  GoPro cameras might be best since they would all have the same lens and are in popular use.  

The question now becomes:  how to design a simple platform that anyone can use to mount a camera (probably just resting on the platform, not attached to it), and what material to use that will last for many many years.  Installation would also be an issue to ensure it doesn’t dislodge in a storm.  In my first-draft thoughts, I envision threaded pipes (aluminum??) somehow inserted into a hole drilled into the substratum, backfilled with cement, and then a final small platform screwed onto the top pipe.  I’m thinking of threaded pipes which should be easier to transport in baggage.

Any helpful thoughts or advice, or has someone already developed something like this for their own work and published their design?  

To see what this colony looked like up until last year, I prepared a video showing images from 1992 up to 2015.  Once you see what the coral looked like, you can understand why I’m anxious to know if it will ever recover and how long it will take.  Here is link to that video:  https://youtu.be/gjYxrrZAdNo <https://youtu.be/gjYxrrZAdNo>

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