In situ characterization of krill morphometry, behaviour and orientation is not yet routinely feasible, yet is critical to understanding swarm characteristics. A first step is to measure individual and aggregation behaviour. We report on successful use of a robust, low-cost underwater stereo video camera system to observe live Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) in aquaria. The application of photogrammetry techniques allows animal length, orientation and three-dimensional position to be calculated from stereo video camera observations. Initially, we tested the efficacy of the stereo system by observing synthetic targets of known length and orientation to obtain estimates of measurement error. We found that on average the stereo camera system underestimated length by 0.6 mm and vertical tilt angle by +0.34° (head up), but that photogrammetric measurements of 100 randomly selected krill lengths were not significantly different from measurements of 100 randomly caught krill measured physically. During our investigation, we analysed three krill behavioural metrics: swimming speed, tortuosity, and vertical orientation under three behavioural states (undisturbed, feeding, and escape). We found that swim speed and tortuosity significantly increased when animals were feeding or exhibiting an escape response, but vertical orientation was not significantly different across states. Our investigation demonstrates that low-cost stereo video cameras can produce precise measurements that can be used for monitoring krill behaviour and population structure.
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