Towards mapping Nereocystis luetkeana kelp beds: Using the holonomic iROV Sea Biscuit and sonar fusion

Benjamin Williamson, Martin Balchin, William Megill

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Mapping the density and distribution of kelp beds and assessing change over yearly cycles are important objectives for coastal oceanography. The intelligent, position-aware, holonomic ROV (iROV) SeaBiscuit has been designed specifically for this nearshore 3D mapping application. With the aim of providing high-usability maps on a budget, SeaBiscuit fuses the data from two complementary sonars to explore and map the nearshore. Holonomic motion in the horizontal plane and a streamlined profile designed to aid station-keeping provide the high degree of manoeuvrability required to operate in this complex environment. The orthogonal arrangement of a forward-facing multibeam sonar and a 360 degree scanning sonar provide increased coverage and allow 3D maps to be generated in-transit using the holonomic capabilities of the vehicle. Successful field trials saw the mapping of a piling dock before the surveys moved to the kelp beds of British Columbia, Canada. SeaBiscuit was initially calibrated and tested on an 'artificial' kelp bed of kelp stipes transplanted to a sheltered but open-water real world environment. The first successful open ocean kelp bed maps were gathered in 2011. It was possible to identify clusters of stipes and to convert this into a measure of biomass across the kelp bed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number070001
JournalProceedings of Meetings on Acoustics
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event11th European Conference on Underwater Acoustics, ECUA 2012 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jul 20126 Jul 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards mapping Nereocystis luetkeana kelp beds: Using the holonomic iROV Sea Biscuit and sonar fusion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this