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Design and implementation of optical imaging and sensor systems for characterization of deep-sea biological camouage

  • Author(s): Haag, Justin Mathew
  • et al.
Abstract

The visual ecology of deep-sea animals has long been of scientific interest. In the open ocean, where there is no physical structure to hide within or behind, diverse strategies have evolved to solve the problem of camouflage from a potential predator. Simulations of specific predator-prey scenarios have yielded estimates of the range of possible appearances that an animal may exhibit. However, there is a limited amount of quantitative information available related to both animal appearance and the light field at mesopelagic depths (200 m to 1000 m). To mitigate this problem, novel optical instrumentation, taking advantage of recent technological advances, was developed and is described in this dissertation. In the first half of this dissertation, the appearance of mirrored marine animals is quantitatively evaluated. A portable optical imaging scatterometer was developed to measure angular reflectance, described by the bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF), of biological specimens. The instrument allows for BRDF capture from samples of arbitrary size, over a significant fraction of the reflectance hemisphere. Multiple specimens representing two species of marine animals, collected at mesopelagic depths, were characterized using the scatterometer. Low-dimensional parametric models were developed to simplify use of the data sets, and to validate the BRDF method. Results from principal component analysis confirm that BRDF measurements can be used to study intra- and interspecific variability of mirrored marine animal appearance. Collaborative efforts utilizing the BRDF data sets to develop physically-based scattering models are underway. In the second half of this dissertation, another key part of the deep-sea biological camouflage problem is examined. Two underwater radiometers, capable of low-light measurements, were developed to address the lack of available information related to the deep-sea light field. Quantitative comparison of spectral downward irradiance profiles at blue (̃470̃nm) and green (̃560̃nm) wavelengths, collected at Pacific and Atlantic field stations, provide insight into the presence of Raman (inelastic) scattering effects at mesopelagic depths. The radiometers were also used to collect in situ flashes of bioluminescence. Collaborations utilizing both the downward irradiance and bioluminescence data sets are planned

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