Processing of Holocam and Video Plankton Recorder Data Collected in the Gulf of Mexico Between August 2010 and April 2011

As part of the overall NOAA/NRDA plankton-sampling program to assess the possible impact of
the DWH oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, new optical sampling methods were used to obtain
digital images of oil droplets, fragile forms of plankton, and marine snow, none of which are
sampled adequately using traditional net and bottle collection methods. In addition, the optical
methods allow acquisition of high-resolution along-track survey data. Such information is critical
for assessment of the pelagic ecosystem of the gulf. Between June 2010 and April 2011, a series
of seven cruises to the Gulf were conducted using digital optical imaging systems including a
holographic plankton camera (Holocam), the Digital Autonomous Video Plankton Recorder
(DAVPR), and the second generation Video Plankton Recorder (VPRII). This sampling
provided a large amount of digital images. These images require post processing to obtain
abundance and distributional data for plankton taxa, marine snow, and oil droplets, together with
associated environmental data (e.g., CTD, fluorescence). The proposed image data processing
will provide a wealth of data on the distribution, abundance, biomass, and sizes of plankton,
marine snow and oil droplets.