Automatic annotation of coral reefs using deep learning

A. Mahmood, M. Bennamoun, S. An, F. Sohel, F. Boussaid, R. Hovey, G. Kendrick, R. B. Fisher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review

42 Citations (Web of Science)


Healthy coral reefs play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity in tropical marine ecosystems. Deep sea exploration and imaging have provided us with a great opportunity to look into the vast and complex marine ecosystems. Data acquisition from the coral reefs has facilitated the scientific investigation of these intricate ecosystems. Millions of digital images of the sea floor have been collected with the help of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs). Automated technology to monitor the health of the oceans allows for transformational ecological outcomes by standardizing methods for detecting and identifying species. Manual annotation is a tediously repetitive and a time consuming task for marine experts. It takes 10-30 minutes for a marine expert to meticulously annotate a single image. This paper aims to automate the analysis of large available AUV imagery by developing advanced deep learning tools for rapid and large-scale automatic annotation of marine coral species. Such an automated technology would greatly benefit marine ecological studies in terms of cost, speed, accuracy and thus in better quantifying the level of environmental change marine ecosystems can tolerate. We propose a deep learning based classification method for coral reefs. We also report the application of the proposed technique towards the automatic annotation of unlabelled mosaics of the coral reef in the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Our proposed method automatically quantifies the coral coverage in this region and detects a decreasing trend in coral population which is in line with conclusions by marine ecologists.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOCEANS 2016 MTS/IEEE Monterey, OCE 2016
EditorsJill Zande, Bill Kirkwood
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
ISBN (Electronic)9781509015375
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2016
Event2016 OCEANS MTS/IEEE Monterey, OCE 2016 - Monterey, United States
Duration: 19 Sep 201623 Sep 2016


Conference2016 OCEANS MTS/IEEE Monterey, OCE 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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