Fish and Shark Data

Harness fish and shark image data for powerful biodiversity reporting with CheckEM, an application for checking annotations of fish stereo imagery.
A shark swimming with light filtering in from above
Who will benefit
Researchers, research organisations, government agencies

The Challenge

Marine imagery and annotation data on fish and shark assemblages provide powerful biodiversity reporting and impactful science communication.

Established through GlobalArchive, the Australian Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) synthesis data asset has the potential to contribute the type of data used to illustrate climate change impacts, reveal environmental change within marine parks, and indicate pathways to maximise bio-economic management globally. However, more data is needed.

The Response

The project has created transformational data analytics and environmental reporting workflows. It achieved this by:

  • extending the coverage and formalising governance arrangements for the existing BRUV synthesis data asset
  • building consensus for adoption and implementation on data standards, including an open-by-default model to increase data discoverability and accessibility and improve usability
  • developing and adopting data capture workflows, curation pipelines and interfaces
  • implementing data summary and synthesis layers in GlobalArchive that are machine syndicated to other platforms and portals.

The Outcomes

This project has delivered data, tools and publications to help harness fish and shark image data for powerful biodiversity reporting:

Access the data through the GlobalArchive platform.

Use CheckEM, an open-source web-based Shiny app provides quality control assessments on metadata and image annotations of fish stereo-imagery. It can:

  • assess a range of sampling methods and annotation data formats for common inaccuracies made whilst annotating stereo imagery
  • create interactive plots and tables in a graphical interface
  • provides summarised data and a report of potential errors to download.

CheckEM is also available as an R package and comes with a number of user guides. Access these on the CheckEM GitHub website.

This project ensures the future growth of the Australian BRUV synthesis data asset. This data asset has been identified as a critical component for the sustained monitoring of federal, state and territory marine park or reserve networks, where stereo-BRUVs are a key tool for the non-destructive monitoring of fish assemblages across a range of water depths.

Citing CheckEM

Gibbons B, Spencer C, Langlois T (2024). CheckEM: An R package and Shiny App for Formatting, Checking, Visualising and Analysing Stereo-Video Annotation Data. R package version 1.0,

  • This project has delivered the first globally accepted guide for using stereo-BRUVs to survey demersal fish assemblages and associated benthic habitats. Read the paper.
  • A workshop was held in WA in 2018 to compile using GlobalArchive, refine and subsequently analyse BRUVs data to answer broad ecological questions at a continental scale. Read the report.

This project has supported a study, published on Nature Ecology and Evolution, that shows the positive impact of marine protected areas on globally threatened sharks and rays. Read the paper.

Who Will Benefit

Researchers, research organisations and government agencies will benefit from:

  • enhanced data discoverability with the syndication of summary and synthesis data products across national platforms
  • transformational data analytics and environmental reporting workflows
  • improved data availability through standardised metadata, machine-readability, and open by default access.

The Partners

  • University of Western Australia
  • Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)
  • Western Australia Marine Science Institution (WAMSI)
  • Australian Ocean Data Network
  • WA Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions
  • WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
  • South Australian Department for Environment and Water
  • Parks Victoria
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Flinders University
  • Curtin University
  • Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS)
  • SeaGIS Pty Ltd
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Massey University, New Zealand
  • South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity
  • São Paulo State University, Brazil
  • Dalhousie University, Canada

Further Resources

Contact the ARDC

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January 2021 to December 2023

Current Phase


ARDC Co-investment


Project lead

University of Western Australia