This report investigates the biodiversity, abundance and distribution of marine species over a three-year period from 2016 – 2019, in the waters off Hermanus, South Africa. This study used count data from Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUV) to evaluate community composition in a non-invasive way that allowed for the species to be assessed in-situ.
The data obtained from these surveys were then subjected to extensive statistical analysis using the Shannon Diversity Index, t-tests and a two-way ANOVA. Kelp forests were found to have the highest biodiversity and abundance of species from varying trophic levels, followed closely by rocky/reef habitats. Sandy habitats were seen to have a continual decline in biodiversity over the time period which indicates a shift away from exposed habitats towards habitats that provide better shelter and higher resource availability.
The aim of the study is to provide information that can be used to improve current or create new management methods to better preserve the environment from the ongoing effects of climate change as well as the anthropogenic pressures on the natural world, which have led to a dramatic loss of global biodiversity and has forced many species to the brink of extinction. Ideally, management strategies would focus on a holistic approach to integrate the human use of natural resources with the protection of the whole ecosystem, aiming toward a more sustainable future.