Sponsors: Beyster Foundation, Keck Foundation, Anonymous Donation to Scripps
There is a growing need in oceanography to augment traditional scalar measurements with image data. Towards this end, the SPC project aims to provide real-time, free-space, in situ, plankton cameras with automated object detection and annotation that can be deployed in a diverse range of environments targeting a broad range of plankton imaging applications.
The SPC system is a set underwater microscopes with real-time image processing and object detection. It was designed to detect objects from tens of microns up to several centimeters. It employs darkfield illumination to enhance the contrast of transparent objects. Data from the SPC are transferred in real-time to a webserver and database that support an interactive web tool for browsing images and exploring sample statistics. The SPC web interface can be found at spc.ucsd.edu.
- Principal Investigators: Jules S. Jaffe
- Principal Engineer: Paul L. D. Roberts
- Technical Consultant: Ben Laxton
- Mechanical Engineer: Devin Ratelle
- Graduate Students: Eric Orenstein, Andy Mullen
The Scripps Plankton Camera (SPC) system, in all its iterations, generates a huge amount of image data; the system captures thousands to hundreds of thousands of images per day. In the short time the pier system has been deployed, it has revealed episodic blooms of fragile diatom chains, many delicate gelatinous organisms, and a form of parasitism not previously reported in the Pacific. To speed the analysis of data coming from the SPC, automated techniques are being developed to label incoming images.
At left is an image of colonial radiolarian taken by the SPC during a sea test on the R/V Sproul in 2014.
Sponsors: National Science Foundation
The SPC netcam is an adaptation of the original SPC cameras (retired at the end of 2014) to image objects in the water flowing out the end of a plankton net. In many scenarios, the natural density of plankton in key size ranges such as 0.5 to 5 mm is too low to be sampled with high spatial resolution and good sample statistics. One example that motivated the construction of the netcam are the waters off Little Cayman. Towards this end, the netcam aims to concentrate the water imaged by the cameras while maintaining high resolution in the images of millimeter sized plankton.
A modified version of the SPC was commissioned by Eric Danner from the NOAA South West Fisheries Science Center to be used to study the invertebrate populations in the Sacramento river and estuary near San Francisco Bay. It is hypothesized that the ability of the salmon populations in the river to withstand changes in their climate such as fluctuations in the release water temperature is highly influenced by available food. This camera system will help quantify the abundance of these food sources and hopefully lead to a synoptic monitoring program through the river and estuary ecosystem.
A modified version of the SPC was commissioned by Rob Campbell from the Prince William Sounds Science Center in Cordov, AK to be mounted on his profiling mooring in the Prince William Sound. The profiler typically runs several times a day sampling water from the surface down to 60 meters at a profile speed of roughly 30 cm per second. The profiler holds an excellent suite of sensors that provide a host of biological and physical measurements. The custom designed SPC will augment these sensors with high-resolution images of plankton in the size of of 1 mm up to several cm. In order to collect enough samples during the relatively short and infrequent profiles, the SPC was redesigned around a much larger field of view (over 500 mL volume images per frame) and housed in a larger set of tubes with large sapphire optical ports. Working with Wetlabs the SPC was integrated as an additional sensor in the suite of instruments on the profiler.