Remote sensing of the ocean environment  


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Right: Molokini Crater, Maui,

Imaged by IKONOS, January 25, 2001.  Credit: Space Imaging



1st Image of Whale From Space The image on the right is the first ever whale image from space, captured by IKONOS in a January 8, 2000 image of Shamu's tank at Sea World, San Diego.  The image is pixilated at the raw image resolution - 4m.  The whale is a 3-pixel smudge in the right tank.  IKONOS and QuickBird are the first commercial satellites to have enough resolution to detect individual whales.   The image on the left shows how Sea World visitors see Shamu's tank from the SkyTower next door.  We took this photo on October 14, 2001, at the instant when an Orca was at approximately the same place in the right tank as in the January 2000 space image.  These photos were part of a study on detection of whales with satellite imagery for animal census in remote areas of the world.   Humpbacks were detected in an IKONOS satellite image of the waters off Maui.  See my publications list for more information.  Also see discussions of this work in a NASA Earth Observatory story and in Woody Turner et al.

Coral Reefs Signal processing makes sun glint disappear and ocean bottom features
clearer.  A special algorithm (US patent 6304664) is used to remove sunlight reflections from the ocean surface so that features beneath the surface are more readily visible. In above example the image on the left is the original with bright sun glint masking portion ofthe area.  On the right is the same image after glint removal.  Note:  water wake of small boat (lower left corner) is also removed.
Bathymetry A sequence of two or more images of ocean waves can be processed into water depth maps.  This method was first demonstrated with satellite images in 2005.  Left: IKONOS image of shoaling waves off Silver Stands Beach, San Diego.  This is the site used of the 2005 satellite bathymetry test.   Right: the satellite bathymetry overlay, color coded from shallow (red) to deep (blue).  The inlet into San Diego harbor in in center and upper left.  Silver Strands Beach is on the peninsula on the right. See Sea Technology paper and Conference paper

Humpback An ordinary digital camera image was processed to reveal mother and calf humpbacks.  The photo on the left was taken from a Pacific Whale Foundation whale watch boat off Maui.  On the right is the same image, after special processing, shows mother and calf  under the surface.  The algorithm is similar to the one used on coral reefs, but  modified to work with an ordinary digital camera  JPEG image file.   A similar algorithm was used to detect humpback whales from space with the IKONOS satellite.


Papers  You can download most of my papers from my electronic-library.

2005 R. Abileah