Camera captures polarized view of the ocean

A team of researchers at the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK) has developed a specialized camera that allows scientists to "see" polarized light, just as reef-dwelling animals do.

Jan 31st, 2012

A team of researchers at the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK) has developed a specialized camera that allows scientists to "see" polarized light, just as reef-dwelling animals do.

Although human beings are not sensitive to the way that light is polarized, many reef dwelling animals are. Such polarization sensitivity may play a role in improving how they detect targets and navigate through the water. But this has not always been taken into account in previous studies of reef communities.

“Many reef-dwelling animals, like octopus, crabs, shrimp, and maybe even some fish, are sensitive to polarized light. It's hard for us to understand what that means because we really can't see the polarization of light without some kind of aid, like specialized polarization converting cameras,” says Dr. Shelby Temple.

The camera the researchers have developed enables them to capture polarized images which are then converted into false color images, where different colors are used to represent different polarizations of light.

Thanks to support provided by a Yulgilbar Foundation Fellowship, Temple and a team of researchers from the Ecology of Vision Laboratory in Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, now plan to take the camera to the Lizard Island Research Station off the coast of Queensland where they will use it to study the coral reef environment via underwater imaging.

-- By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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