Development of a HabCAM System for NOAA/NMFS Pahse I of III: Construction of a Stereo Camera and Telemetry System

There is a great need in fisheries science to develop and utilize new tools and technologies that could help improve the assessment and management of our national marine resources. Coupled with this is a major change in approach from single species to ecosystem based management. The HabCam system (Habitat Characterization Camera System) was developed to move toward these goals. The vision described in this proposal is to provide NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service with a tool that will address the need to make more efficient surveys of commercially important benthic organisms such as sea scallops and groundfish along with the development of a benthic observatory system capable of quantifying habitat, including species richness, diversity, substrate composition, and ecosystem change on temporal-spatial scales of minutes to decades and mm to 1000s km. This proposal is for Phase I of a three Phase program to implement the development and delivery of a HabCam to the NMFS. All three Phases are described, but only Phase I is being proposed for funding with fiscal Year 2010 funds. The three Phases are: Phase I: The construction of a stereo camera and telemetry system and testing in a large seawater tank system (this proposal). Phase II: The design and construction of a towed vehicle, software development for stereo imaging, integration of the stereo camera and side scan acoustics systems, field testing, and transitioning the technology into operational oceanography. Phase III: The development and integration of image informatics tools for automated classification into an image processing pipeline and database. Phase I objectives and deliverables for this one year proposal are: (1) To design and construct a high resolution GigE digital stereo camera package; (2) To construct a high output strobed lighting package; (3) To construct a fiber optic-based data and image telemetry system, and (4) To develop the software necessary to collect, transmit and store stereo image pairs and ancillary environmental data on a shipboard computer.