Ocean Imaging Project

Simultaneous mapping with light and sound, at the scale of the biology

Dave Caress, Principal Engineer

Low altitude survey system

Low Altitude Survey System mounted on the ROV SuBastian in November 2018.

The Low Altitude Survey System is being developed by the Ocean Imaging Project of the Seafloor Mapping Lab. It includes lasers (wide-swath Lidar), multibeam sonar and stereo cameras, and is flown close to the seafloor, at just 3 meters (9.8 feet) altitude, to produce maps that image objects as small as one centimeter. When mounted to an MBARI ROV, the tool sled can articulate so that inclined surfaces, such as canyon walls or hydrothermal chimneys, can be mapped as well as horizontal surfaces. Navigation of the vehicle is precisely controlled by software, rather than by a pilot.

The lasers image animals with soft tissues while sonar passes through soft tissues, so the difference between those maps reveals animals such as sponges and corals. The photographs can show if the animals are living or dead, and with precision enough to quantify them. The photos are geo-referenced to the maps, so they can be draped on the bathymetry for a realistic image of the seafloor from which 3D measurements can be made. These surveys enable studies of geological, geochemical, and biological processes that modify the seafloor at fine scales, and also support ecological research through comprehensive mapping of seafloor habitats at the scales of the animals that live there.

Ocean Imaging Project Team

Craig Dawe

Technical Support Manager/ MARS Manager

Ben Erwin

ROV Pilot/Technician, ROV Doc Ricketts

DJ Osborne

ROV Pilot/Technician, ROV Ventana


Solving challenges
Taking the laboratory into the ocean
In Situ Ultraviolet Spectrophotometer
Midwater Respirometer System
Mobile flow cytometer
Enabling targeted sampling
Automated Video Event Detection
Gulper autonomous underwater vehicle
Advancing a persistent presence
Aerostat hotspot
Benthic Event Detectors
Benthic rover
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys
Marine “soundscape” for passive acoustic monitoring
Monterey Ocean-Bottom Broadband Seismometer
Shark Café camera
Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
Emerging and current tools
Aerostat hotspot
Wave Glider-based communications hotspot
Wet WiFi
Data management
Oceanographic Decision Support System
Spatial Temporal Oceanographic Query System (STOQS) Data
Video Annotation and Reference System
Apex profiling floats
Benthic Event Detectors
Deep particle image velocimetry
Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)
How the ESP Works
Genomic sensors
ESP Web Portal
The ESP in the news
Investigations of imaging for midwater autonomous platforms
Lagrangian sediment traps
Laser Raman Spectroscopy
Midwater Respirometer System
Mobile flow cytometer
Smart underwater connector
OGC PUCK Reference Design Kit
Promoters and manufacturers
Manufacturer ID
Wave-Power Buoy
Vehicle technology
Benthic Rover
Gulper autonomous underwater vehicle
Imaging autonomous underwater vehicle
In Situ Ultraviolet Spectrophotometer
Seafloor mapping AUV
Long-range autonomous underwater vehicle Tethys
Mini remotely operated vehicle
ROV Doc Ricketts
ROV Ventana
Automated Video Event Detection
Machine learning
SeeStar Imaging System
Shark Café camera
Video Annotation and Reference System
Engineering Research
Bioinspiration Lab
Bringing the laboratory to the ocean
Bringing the ocean to the laboratory
Bio-inspired ocean exploration technologies
Seafloor mapping
Ocean imaging
MB-System seafloor mapping software
Seafloor mapping AUV
Technology publications
Technology transfer