Underwater digital holography for studies of marine plankton

Hongyue Sun, Philip William Benzie, Nicholas M. Burns, David C. Hendry, Michael Antony Player, John Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional and digital holographies are proving to be increasingly important for studies of marine zooplankton and other underwater biological applications. This paper reports on the use of a subsea digital holographic camera (eHoloCam) for the analysis and identification of marine organisms and other subsea particles. Unlike recording on a photographic film, a digital hologram (e-hologram) is recorded on an electronic sensor and reconstructed numerically in a computer by simulating the propagation of the optical field in space. By comparison with other imaging techniques, an e-hologram has several advantages such as three-dimensional spatial reconstruction, non-intrusive and non-destructive interrogation of the recording sampling volume and the ability to record holographic videos. The basis of much work in optics lies in Maxwell's electromagnetic theory and holography is no exception: we report here on two of the numerical reconstruction algorithms we have used to reconstruct holograms obtained using eHoloCam and how their starting point lies in Maxwell's equations. Derivation of the angular spectrum algorithm for plane waves is provided as an exact method for the in-line numerical reconstruction of digital holograms. The Fresnel numerical reconstruction algorithm is derived from the angular spectrum method. In-line holograms are numerically processed before and after reconstruction to remove periodic noise from captured images and to increase image contrast. The ability of the Fresnel integration reconstruction algorithm to extend the reconstructed volume beyond the recording sensor dimensions is also shown with a 50% extension of the reconstruction area. Finally, we present some images obtained from recent deployments of eHoloCam in the North Sea and Faeroes Channel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1789-1806
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical & Engineering Sciences
Issue number1871
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2008


  • digital holography
  • marine plankton
  • image processing
  • hologram reconstruction
  • in-line
  • biological applications


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