Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Classification and Identification of
Marine Organisms from Images and Video


Workshop Announcement
March 29 - April 1, 2009

The workshop has ended; a summary of proceedings will be available in the future.

The Census of Marine Life on Seamount's (CenSeam) group and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) are sponsoring a workshop on marine video and image analysis techniques. It will be held at the MBARI facility in Moss Landing, California from 29th of March through the 1st of April.


Continuing advances in the quality, acquisition, and portability of digital imagery offer significant functional advantages for marine research, in particular, where remote field localities are the norm. The ability to accurately and promptly categorize the ever-increasing quantities of visual samples is becoming critical for successful scientific analysis, collaboration and publication.

Who Should Attend?

Professionals working in the fields of marine ecology, biodiversity, taxonomy, and education that frequently work with underwater still and moving images from a variety of taxonomic groups should expect to benefit. In this new era of enhanced remote imaging, species identification by the use of traditional keys is often not possible.This meeting will assemble taxonomic experts from a variety of deep-sea taxonomic groups with the aim of providing hands-on training for non-specialists in identifying animals in images to the highest possible level of specificity (order, family, genus, species). 

What Will Be Covered?

For each featured taxon, an emphasis will be placed on overall characteristics for classification, typical diagnostic characteristics that are visible in images, distinctions between similar species, level of identification that is typically achievable in images, and hints for effectively acquiring and incorporating image data into scientific analyses. Participants should become more confident in consistently assigning identifications to the highlighted groups, which will likely include fish, corals, sponges, anemones, asteroids, holothuroids, echinoids and may include select groups of gastropods, bivalves, cephalopds, miscellaneous worms, crustaceans, crinoids and ophiuroids. While there may be some coverage of midwater organisms, benthic habitats, including seamounts and other unique environments, will be the primary focus of this workshop.

Visual materials and identification aids will be provided by workshop organizers and invited speakers in a series of presentations covering each taxon. Attendees are also welcome to bring their own images as there will likely be an opportunity to work with specialists on classifications in open sessions at some point during the workshop.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn more about MBARI's unique deep-sea video archive processes. The Institute's Video Annotation and Reference System (VARS) is a software interface and database system that provides tools for describing, cataloging, retrieving, and viewing the visual, descriptive, and quantitative data associated with MBARI's deep-sea video archives. Attendees will be given a first-hand look at these tools and the resulting annotation data, which are all available to interested external users.

Likely outcomes of the workshop will include establishment of online resources from the taxonomic experts and workshop organizers, e.g., image libraries of the featured taxon, access to taxonomist networks, and a bibliography of useful literature and web site references.

Logistical Topics

A preliminary schedule is now available. Registration costs are US$150. Travel guidelines are no longeravailable.

The workshop is open to all, but space is limited to approximately 50 participants. Representation from as many different institutions as possible would be ideal, therefore, effort will be made by workshop organizers to balance attendance if maximum numbers are approached. The hope is that this workshop will serve as a test bed for future workshops on particular taxonomic groups and specific habitats.

To submit your interest, or for further information, please contact Nancy Jacobsen at MBARI.


Last updated: Feb. 23, 2012