Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
MBARI Seminar Series

Fluorescence imaging of the sea floor

Charles Mazel, Ph.D.
Physical Sciences Inc.

Friday, February 22, 2002
12:00 Noon–Pacific Forum

Corals photographed with conventional reflected light.
The same corals photographed with ultraviolet light to stimulate fluorescence.
Fluorescence adds a new optical dimension for visualizing the marine environment. Fluorescence is the absorption of light at one wavelength and its re-emission at longer wavelengths. Many benthic plants, invertebrates, and even some vertebrates fluoresce with distinctive responses. The red fluorescence of chlorophyll is nearly ubiquitous on the sea floor. Fluorescence imaging provides enhanced contrast that can make specimens stand out clearly from their background and can reveal hidden features within specimens. It can provide a tool for mapping coral reef resources and may possibly provide a tool for assessing health of marine organisms. Fluorescence can be seen by the eye with the use of special lights and can be photographed with relatively simple adaptations to conventional underwater photographic equipment. There are also more exotic ways to image fluorescence, including multispectral digital cameras and laser fluorescence imagers. This presentation will provide an overview of fluorescence imaging principles, techniques, and applications.

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