Noguchi et al. 2022

scientific article | Marine Technology Society

Wide-Area Three-Dimensional Imaging of Mesophotic Coral Reefs Using a Low-Cost AUV

Noguchi Y, Humblet M, Furushima Y, Ito S, Maki T


Surveys and monitoring are essential to study the biology and ecology of coral reefs in order to understand the reasons behind reef demise and recovery. However, mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) remain largely unknown compared to their shallow counterparts because it is difficult to observe the seafloor below 30 m depths. Here, we propose a seafloor observation method using a low-cost autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). This method was developed to allow many people to easily perform underwater observations of MCEs, and is also applicable to general seafloor surveys, such as underwater artificial structures, hydrothermal vent fields, etc. The method possesses three important attributes to achieve effective surveys. First, it can be applied in highly rugged terrains and enables the AUV to track omnidirectional surfaces at high speed (Max. ~1 m/s). Second, it can produce a reliable three-dimensional (3D) image of the seafloor based on a depth sensor. Third, it can be used to estimate the flow velocity field. The proposed method was tested by using the AUV HATTORI-2, which is a lightweight, one-man portable AUV equipped with commercial off-the-shelf sensors. Our study area is the Sekisei Lagoon in the South Ryukyus, which represents the largest coral reef complex in Japan. The method enabled us not only to obtain a wide and high-definition 3D image of mesophotic coral reefs that captures detailed characteristics of marine habitats but also to acquire environmental data, such as flow velocity field and seawater temperature, spatially and temporally aligned with the 3D image.

Meta-data (pending validation)

Mesophotic “mentions”

 Full text not (yet) indexed.

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range
* Focused on 'mesophotic coral ecosystem'

Methods and Technology

Overall benthic (groups)

Japan - Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa)

Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV)

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