[MARMAM] New publication on “Estimating the spatial position of marine mammals based on digital camera recordings”

Brasseur, Sophie sophie.brasseur at wur.nl
Sun Jan 11 11:01:36 PST 2015

We are pleased to inform you that the following paper has been published:

Hoekendijk, J. P. A., de Vries, J., van der Bolt, K., Greinert, J., Brasseur, S., Camphuysen, K. C. J. and Aarts, G. (2015), Estimating the spatial position of marine mammals based on digital camera recordings. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1353

The paper is published in an open access journal and can be downloaded here:


Estimating the spatial position of animals is important in many ecological and behavioural studies, but can be extremely challenging for marine mammals who only appear at the surface briefly. This study shows how photogrammetric methods applied to land-based Digital HD recordings of harbour porpoises can be used to accurately estimate their spatiotemporal fine-scale distribution.

Estimating the spatial position of organisms is essential to quantify interactions between the organism and the characteristics of its surroundings, for example, predator–prey interactions, habitat selection, and social associations. Because marine mammals spend most of their time under water and may appear at the surface only briefly, determining their exact geographic location can be challenging. Here, we developed a photogrammetric method to accurately estimate the spatial position of marine mammals or birds at the sea surface. Digital recordings containing landscape features with known geographic coordinates can be used to estimate the distance and bearing of each sighting relative to the observation point. The method can correct for frame rotation, estimates pixel size based on the reference points, and can be applied to scenarios with and without a visible horizon. A set of R functions was written to process the images and obtain accurate geographic coordinates for each sighting. The method is applied to estimate the spatiotemporal fine-scale distribution of harbour porpoises in a tidal inlet. Video recordings of harbour porpoises were made from land, using a standard digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, positioned at a height of 9.59 m above mean sea level. Porpoises were detected up to a distance of ~3136 m (mean 596 m), with a mean location error of 12 m. The method presented here allows for multiple detections of different individuals within a single video frame and for tracking movements of individuals based on repeated sightings. In comparison with traditional methods, this method only requires a digital camera to provide accurate location estimates. It especially has great potential in regions with ample data on local (a)biotic conditions, to help resolve functional mechanisms underlying habitat selection and other behaviors in marine mammals in coastal areas.

On behalf of all authors,
Sophie Brasseur
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.uvic.ca/pipermail/marmam/attachments/20150111/0181f84e/attachment.html>

More information about the MARMAM mailing list