Software helps monitor coral reefs

Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Florida Keys coral-reef-monitoring project aims to determine how coral reefs change over time. Headed by Philip Dunstan of the University of Charlestown (Charlestown, SC), James Porter of the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), and Walter Japp of the Division of Marine Research (St. Petersburg, FL), 42 reefs are being digitized with four video cameras. In total, an area of more than 5000 m2 is being recorded.

Software helps monitor coral reefs

Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Florida Keys coral-reef-monitoring project aims to determine how coral reefs change over time. Headed by Philip Dunstan of the University of Charlestown (Charlestown, SC), James Porter of the University of Georgia (Athens, GA), and Walter Japp of the Division of Marine Research (St. Petersburg, FL), 42 reefs are being digitized with four video cameras. In total, an area of more than 5000 m2 is being recorded.

Sections of reefs are imaged with an Hi8 video camera. Once on tape, images are digitized by a frame grabber and written to CD-ROMs for data archiving. In total, more than 50,000 digitized images are being transferred to CD-ROM.

To process images, Dunstan and his colleagues developed an image-processing package using Microsoft VisualBasic. Dubbed PointCount For Coral Reefs, the software is an extension to ImageProPlus from Media Cybernetics (Silver Spring, MD). After images are opened from the CD-ROM, a data overlay identifies coral species attached to each image. When subsequent image files are loaded, data are automatically appended to the images. "The efficiency of the process makes analysis of large data sets possible," says Dunstan. "Recalling an image requires double-clicking on the file name, and data sets are appended automatically."

According to Dunstan, associated image data can be automatically separated into text files, allowing further analysis by database software. Using Image-Pro`s Auto-Pro scripting facility, researchers are also using the software for video deinterlacing, sharpening, and format conversion. For more information, contact info@media cy.com.

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