Application of the Airborne Ocean Color Imager for Commercial Fishing

Key Investigators: Robert C. Wrigley, Steven Klooster

The color of ocean waters has long been used by fisherman to aid in their search for fish. Ocean color is affected by the concentration of chlorophyll, a pigment in phytoplankton (the low end of the food chain) and turbidity (water clarity which influences the feeding pattern of fish). The Airborne Ocean Color Imager (AOCI) was modeled after the next generation ocean color satellite instrument in spectral and radiometric characteristics, but it has a finer spatial resolution when flown on a high altitude aircraft. Based on an earlier version of a satellite-borne sensor, the AOCI measures pigment concentration and visibility patterns in ocean waters, assisting fisheries in locating deep sea fish, such as albacore. The specifications of the AOCI make it appropriate for work on inshore fisheries where water mass boundaries require higher spatial resolution.

Figure 1 shows a sample of AOCI data. Digital data from the sensor is processed to produce an image of pigment concentrations which are then correlated with sites in the area of interest. The color pink represents a range of pigment values coincident with fish catch locations (indicated by crosses). Yellow denotes an intermediate or lesser pigment concentration in the transition to the clearer waters offshore, indicated by the color green.

In addition to developing a remote sensing system to provide near real-time data for commercial fishing operations, this investigation helped develop a scientific foundation for a new remote sensing enterprise which will acquire, process and sell data to commercial fishing operations and others interested in near-real time monitoring of fish concentrations. The AOCI may also be used for detailed studies of near-shore coastal or estuarian processes, water quality investigations and other studies of biological activities in support of future ocean satellite missions.

RESEARCH SITES: Louisiana coastline

COLLABORATORS: Daedalus Enterprises; NOAA/NMFS, Southeast Fisheries Center; Stennis Space Flight Center; MS Spectro Scan; Zapata Haymie Corporation.

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