Orkney Egg Case Survey

WWF, ARK, NatureScot
Government BodiesNGOs
FjordStrong were subcontracted to carry out a survey for potential egg-laying sites of the critically endangered Flapper Skate around the Orkney Islands. In addition to providing high resolution video-transect data of potential egg-laying sites, we deployed stereo BRUVs to characterise the local elasmobranch population, and explore potential ontogenetic niche shifts within the flapper skate population and the possible existence of other Critical Fish habitats such as nursery and mating areas.
Flapper skate are Critically Endangered, and their egg nurseries are crucial for the survival of future generations. But with an egg gestation period of 18 months, flapper skate have to withstand numerous pressures before they even hatch. It was therefore crucial to only employ non-destructive methods that would cause no disturbance to the ecosystem.
Consequently, our TowFish camera covered over 70,000 m2 of seabed gliding over boulder reefs and through kelp forests, always remaining approximately 1 meter from the seabed during operation. Visibility was favourable, and our analysts reported two individual egg observations, however, densities were not high enough to indicate that the areas surveyed constituted an egg-laying site.
We believe this “needle in a haystack” search would benefit from acoustically obtained substrate information to pre-select areas that correspond to other known egg-laying sites – fast current boulder fields. We therefore hope to return to extend the survey and focus on suitable areas.
Meanwhile, we conducted 24 stereo-BRUV deployments, allowing us to take morphological measurements of flapper skate, in addition to spotted skate and spurdog - without removing them from their environment through a non-invasive and non-extractive methodology known as photogrammetry.
Our confidential report documented any observed patterns in habitat use and interactions between individual flapper skate of varying sizes (i.e. age) and sexes.
“Fjordstrong were organised and communicative dealing well with challenging field work in a novel location with challenging weather conditions and forming good working relationships with multiple partners. They delivered a useful report which will help to inform the conservation of the Critically Endangered species going forward.”

Explore the range of services we provided for this project: 

Marine Surveys

Using bait to attract wide-roaming wildlife into the survey platform, our bespoke Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) systems are tailored to perform under the high current speeds encountered in the North East Atlantic. Rated to a depth of 250 meters, they are a rapid and cost effective tool for surveying marine biodiversity, with dual independent lights facilitating round the clock surveying.

Our stereo-imaging techniques are optimised for moderate turbidity levels, allowing our analysts to take accurate measurements through a technique known as photogrammetry without removing specimens from their habitat. Covering both the demersal and pelagic regions, our BRUVs can provide reliable data on:

  • Species Inventories
  • Accurate Measurements and Biomass Estimates
  • Relative Abundances
  • Species Interactions
  • Temporal Changes and Patterns
  • Growth Rates and Overall Condition
Marine Surveys

FjordStrong provides an affordable, zero-impact, reliable solution for measurements of marine specimens in-situ. Using our stereo-imaging cameras, specifically designed to perform in areas of moderate turbidity such as the North East Atlantic, our analysts generate 3D point clouds of the target. With a proven high accuracy at ranges up to 6 metres we offer our clients non-extractive in-situ tool as an alternative to other destructive, lethal and costly methods. Reliable measurements of wildlife can be converted into biomass estimates, condition factors, and determination of developmental stages. Similarly, multi-annual measurements can be used to estimate growth rates, ideal for fragile species such as hard corals.

Marine Surveys

At FjordStrong, our expertise covers taxonomic identification of species and communities, alongside characterisation of the abiotic and physical environment they live in using nationally recognised classification protocols such as JNCC and EUNIS. By collecting data using non-destructive methods such as ROVs and tow-fish cameras, we can systematically identify, predict and compare habitat distribution and ecosystems using a standardised methodology, while preserving the integrity of the area. Such knowledge underpins MPA monitoring, assessing conservation-value of sites, and licensing of industry activities.

Marine Surveys

FjordStrong provides a suite of non-destructive tools and methodologies for assessing marine biodiversity, tailored to your requirements. In light of the ongoing biodiversity crisis caused by anthropogenic pressures and climate change, there is an increasing urgency to understand local biodiversity and population dynamics, including demographic trends and biomass estimates. We provide a range of robust, non-destructive biodiversity surveys to suit your needs, providing a rapid and cost-effective alternative to traditional destructive techniques. With an in-house elasmobranch expert team, benthic ecologists and fisheries scientists, our team can work with you to bridging the knowledge gap and taking the first steps towards a better ocean.

Consultancy & Data Processing

FjordStrong is deeply committed to Elasmobranch Conservation, employing advanced techniques to study and safeguard these vital components of the oceanic web. Drawing on the expertise of the QUB Marine Lab, Regional Flapper Skate Working Group and Elasmobranch Strategy Group, our team comprises specialists in elasmobranch fisheries interactions, bycatch reduction and monitoring, distribution modelling, and acoustic tagging and biotelemetry. Our commitment extends beyond assessment to proactive strategies, ensuring sustainable practices that protect elasmobranch populations and enhance our understanding of these sentinel species and their crucial role in our oceans.

Consultancy & Data Processing

FjordStrong’s experienced team excels in delivering comprehensive solutions that harmonise the interests of both industry and conservation for effective Fisheries Management. Proficient in analysing fisheries data, conducting stock assessments, and advising on resource management, our team focuses on collaborative solutions. FjordStrong offers zero-impact tools that not only complement current methods but also aim to replace more destructive approaches, thereby enhancing the sustainability of fisheries.


Accurate ecological models can inform decision-making and marine management, and collecting reliable and relevant data is the fundamental building block to develop robust ecological models. Our team are trained in advanced video technology and zero-impact methodologies, ensuring precise and comprehensive data acquisition. At FjordStrong we have a track record of generating appropriate input data for models, including but not limited to habitat suitability models, species distribution model, allometric morphological models and oceanographic models. FjordStrong provides the essential data for ecological models that stand up to scrutiny, empowering your organisation with data-driven insights for effective environmental stewardship.

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Discover how FjordStrong’s expert consultancy services can elevate your marine projects, tailored specifically to your unique requirements.
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