DIVERS-OPERATED UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAMMETRY: APPLICATIONS IN THE STUDY OF ANTARCTIC BENTHOS
Ecological studies about marine benthic communities received a major leap from the application of a variety of non-destructive sampling and mapping techniques based on underwater image and video recording. The well-established scientific diving practice consists in the acquisition of single path or ‘round-trip’ over elongated transects, with the imaging device oriented in a nadir looking direction. As it may be expected, the application of automatic image processing procedures to data not specifically acquired for 3D modelling can be risky, especially if proper tools for assessing the quality of the produced results are not employed. This paper, born from an international cooperation, focuses on this topic, which is of great interest for ecological and monitoring benthic studies in Antarctica. Several video footages recorded from different scientific teams in different years are processed with an automatic photogrammetric procedure and salient statistical features are reported to critically analyse the derived results. As expected, the inclusion of oblique images from additional lateral strips may improve the expected accuracy in the object space, without altering too much the current video recording practices.