Visit to Pitcairn Island, South Pacific – June 2014

As part of the Darwin Initiative Project Developing a sustainable marine and fisheries management plan for the Pitcairn Islands, which Sea-Scope are co-leading with the University of Dundee and the Zoological Society of London, Robert Irving undertook a field visit to Pitcairn during June 2014. This was Robert’s fourth visit to this beautiful yet remote and diminutive island, lost in the vastness of the South Pacific and made famous by being the hideaway of the mutineers from HMAV Bounty.

Making up a frame

(1) Making up a frame in the island’s workshop

(2) Attaching the Go-Pro cameras

(2) Attaching the Go-Pro cameras to the frames

Deploying the frame from the longboat

(3) Deploying a frame from one of the island’s longboats

Recovering a frame

(4) Recovering a frame

Analyzing hours of video...!

(5) Starting to analyze hours of video…!






The main purpose of this latest trip was to start acquiring some underwater video of the nearshore fish communities around the island, in order to determine their diversity, abundance and distribution. For this purpose we had had five metal BRUV* frames made up upon which were mounted two (stereo) Go-Pro waterproof video cameras. We also had a bait pouch fixed to each frame which served to attract any inquisitive fish to it. The frames were deployed on the seabed for an hour at a time, at different depths and at different locations. Once hauled back up to the surface, the cameras’ video contents were downloaded onto computer and analyzed.

*Baited Remote Underwater Video

Our colleague and MSc student, Henry Duffy, will be staying on Pitcairn until the end of August 2014, acquiring many hours of video recordings – we hope! The highlights so far have been large shoals of nanwe (a kind of sea chubb), a previously unrecorded surgeonfish, two octopus and a single shark. Sadly our intention of accompanying these remote video drops with some hand-held video (by diving) were thwarted by rough sea conditions – we’ll hope to manage this part of the project next time.

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Two fish species (whitefish & wrasse) caught by handline from the rocks.

Two fish species (whitefish & a wrasse) caught by handline from the rocks.

Sally Lightfoot crab admiring its reflection in a rockpool.

Sally Lightfoot crab admiring its reflection in a rockpool.

P1120801_Presentation in the Hall_LR

A presentation of our findings was made to the island’s residents and visitors.