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The potential of Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) as a near-earth imaging technology for mapping and monitoring shallow water seagrass meadows

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Kneer, D. , Ruhon, R. and Asmus, H. (2010): The potential of Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) as a near-earth imaging technology for mapping and monitoring shallow water seagrass meadows , 9th International Seagrass Biology Workshop, Trang, Thailand. .
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Abstract:

A big gap in optical resolution exists between ground-based mapping and monitoring methods on one side and air and space borne imaging technologies on the other side. Even though archaeologists have long made use of kites, balloons and model airplanes to map historical sites this method is practically unknown amongst biologists.For this study, a commercially available kite was used to lift a digital camera and obtain images of a tropical reef flat covered by coral, seagrasses and sand from heights of up to around 200 m, resulting in an optical resolution of around 1 cm / pixel. Therefore this method can be used to produce very accurate maps, since features like erosional scarps, individual clones of big seagrass species and macrobenthic organisms can be accurately distinguished. Repeated photography of the same area allows the monitoring of erosion and (re)colonisation processes as well as the study of moving sand bars and the determination of the areal extent of areas exposed at low tide. Time consuming ground surveys can be considerably shortened.It is concluded that Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) and related near-earth imaging systems can provide a valuable and inexpensive service in biological surveys, especially for researchers in third world countries for whom the acquisition of high resolution satellite images or the renting of airplanes to take pictures might be prohibitively expensive.

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