RARE video footage of the sea floor off Western Victoria has been captured and will essentially provide researchers with a census of the fish population.
Researchers have for the first time captured high resolution video of fish and other sea creatures in their natural habitat 75 metres below the ocean surface at Discovery Bay Marine National Park, 20 kilometres west of Portland.
In a research partnership between Parks Victoria and Deakin University, marine scientists have captured rare video footage of fish and other marine creatures living on the sea floor off western Victoria.
The footage is part of a project to understand the links between the characteristics of the sea floor and fish communities across Victoria's marine national parks and sanctuaries.
Project lead researcher Daniel Ierodiaconou, from Deakin University, said ultimately they wanted to know what it was about particular areas along the sea floor that attracted certain fish and other sea creatures.
He said because of the latest underwater video technology they were able to drop cameras to much lower depths than before.
"The high resolution, continuous sea floor information we are filming is rare and for the first time we can see how marine creatures live on and near the sea floor," he said.
The footage taken will be combined with the previous mapping data to draw a complete picture of life at the bottom of the sea.
Parks Victoria manager of marine science Dr Steffan Howe said the project would tell them what fish live where, how many of them there are, what their habitat looks like and how they interact with other species and across habitats.
"It is like a census of the fish population," he said.
"Projects like this one help us build on our knowledge of life under the surface in our marine national parks and provide us with the most up to date information to help in park management."
The project uses underwater video cameras called BRUVS-Baited Remote Underwater Video Station - that are dropped from a boat to the sea floor and can capture all movement within eight metres of the camera with an exact position on the sea floor recorded with GPS.
So far analysis of the footage captured at Discovery Bay Marine National Park has revealed more than 40 species of fish.
More surveys will be carried out over the next three years at The Twelve Apostles and Point Addis marine national parks and Merri Marine Sanctuary.