Coral Reefs

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 193–199

Three-dimensional morphometric measurements of reef corals using underwater photogrammetry techniques

  •  J. Bythell
  •  P. Pan
  •  J. Lee

DOI: 10.1007/s003380100157

Cite this article as:
Bythell, J., Pan, P. & Lee, J. Coral Reefs (2001) 20: 193. doi:10.1007/s003380100157


We describe a novel technical approach to accurately measure surface area and other morphological characteristics of corals and similar irregular objects from underwater photography. A standard Nikonos camera system was used with a slide-scanner to produce multiple overlapping images of the object. PhotoModeler software was used to process the images and build a 3-D model of the object, which was subsequently analyzed using 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) packages. The accuracy of the technique was tested on irregularly shaped polystyrene models of known dimensions and on preserved coral skeletons. The technique was applied to the quantitative assessment of partial mortality in corals, but many applications are possible, including surface area measurements to standardize ecophysiological studies in the field and morphometric analyses. It represents the only noninvasive technique we are aware of for determining surface areas of large corals in the field. The most serious limitation of the technique is the time-consuming nature of the process, which increases with the complexity of the object and precludes many routine applications.

Coral surface area Morphology Photogrammetry 3-D modeling 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  •  J. Bythell
    • 1
  •  P. Pan
    • 2
  •  J. Lee
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Management, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
  2. 2.Department of Maritime Studies and International Transport, University College of Wales at Cardiff, Cardiff, CF1 3YP, UK
  3. 3."Virtually Unlimited", 5 Mount Pleasant Close, Kingskerswell, Devon, TQ12 5JH, UK

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