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How Zebra-Tech’s data logging Dive Caliper aids data gathering and sampling of Paua (Abalone)

“I was able to complete the tagging at Long Island – It was wicked fast because of the callipers”


Alix LaFerriere’s bright personality and enthusiasm are becoming well known in New Zealand marine science circles. The gregarious American puts so much energy and passion into her research – which is why she finds herself diving off New Zealand’s coastline rather than in her home state of Oregon USA.

And Alix certainly needs that positive energy, she has her work cut out for her sampling thousands of New Zealand Paua, recording measurements and processing data as part of her PhD.

Alix approached Zebra-Tech after hearing about our data logging Dive Caliper from other researchers. The next step was justifying the purchase to her supervisor…

Figure 1: Victoria Universities’ PHD student Alix LaFerriere diving on Kapiti Island.

Logistical and financial hurdles:

When a single underwater survey trip involves multiple dives, collaboration with other research groups, charter dive boat expenses and limited bottom time, getting the right data can be a logistical, budgetary and technical challenge.

But what happens when it is not a single survey but a full sampling program involving dozens of dives at multiple sites throughout New Zealand?

How do you maximise the number of samples you can collect? How do you make sure that your dive team is working efficiently on your limited budget? How do you ensure that the data you collect is accurately recorded, accurately transcribed and accurately presented?

Victoria Universities’ PHD student Alix LaFerriere took the time to share with us about how Zebra-Tech’s Underwater Dive Callipers are helping with her research into New Zealand Paua.

She has spent the past two summers diving and sampling in marine reserves in central New Zealand working with teams from the New Zealand Department of Conservation as well as university researchers and independent contractors.

She aims to assess New Zealand Paua density, size and habitat in marine reserves to determine if marine reserves are affording protection for this iconic species.

Solving the problem:

Zebra-Tech Dive Calipers are cost effective with less errors

Understandably, a major consideration for Alix has been managing a research project on a limited budget. Alix was awarded the 2013 New Zealand Marine Sciences Society student research grant, which enabled her to look at stunted populations in Tasman Bay and the Marlborough Sounds. The surveys and translocations were greatly expedited because of the efficiency of the calipers. The costs associated with implementing a coordinated sampling program are considerable. Dive Calipers, which she jealously guards under lock and key in her office, have more than paid for themselves in reduced dive time and faster, more accurate sampling “I was able to complete dives so much faster, I wish I had had them the previous summer!”

The logging callipers are designed for research divers, designed for the harsh underwater environment and designed to make underwater measurement easier. Big buttons can be pushed even with dive gloves on.

“I couldn’t believe the efficiency increases”

Previously it was a painstaking exercise in recording and memory ….trying to remember which Paua had been measured from a cluster and noting 3 or 4 measurements at a time. While recording by hand, she noticed both her and her dive buddy would sometimes get confused about which Paua had already been measured. Zebra-Tech’s Dive Callipers gave her the ability to work through an area of Paua without pause and without having to rely on her memory.

But the efficiency gains didn’t just stop on the water. Consider the hundreds of measurements Alix needs to take each time she goes diving; traditional hand written data collection and organisation is a lot of work. “Usually I had to get back home, sort through and transfer data onto my PC, do error checking…now I come back from a full-on day, push a few buttons and I’m able to shoot the file off to colleagues…it’s a huge time saver”.

Learn more about Alix and her research:

Alix LaFerriere has come to New Zealand from the U.S to investigate the role habitats play in population stability and growth of Paua throughout New Zealand.

Her work also includes research into “stunted” Paua (mature Paua which have not grown to a commercially harvestable size). Her research also includes habitat mapping to identify the factors that provide optimal conditions for Paua.

With a background in Oceanography and having worked for the State of Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, Alix has already impressed her supervisor (Professor Jonathan Gardner from Victoria’s School of Biological Sciences) and fellow scientists here in New Zealand with the contribution she is making to advancing marine conservation.

Learn more about Zebra-Tech’s Underwater Caliper:

The Dive Calipers are the world’s only underwater measuring, self-logging caliper. Simple to use and accurate, the field-tough submersible recording calipers are a unique and valuable tool for a wide variety of underwater and rugged environment measuring jobs.

At the push of a button, the Dive Calipers log the jaw measurement, time, date, and (optionally) the water depth.

Zebra-Tech’s Dive Calipers maximize productivity and data quality during valuable dive time. They speed up data collection for divers, who can take measurements in only one dive, instead of repeat dives.

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