Aberystwyth University

Institute of Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Object at Sea Imaging/Tracking Project


The aim here is to detect, track and image objects at sea out to distances of 30 km or more, depending upon viewing geometry, atmosphere and refraction below the horizon. As an example, large tall ships in the sea have been detected in front of St Davids Head some 75 km away from the top of the IMAPS building. Closer objects, within 30 km are easily detected and resolved. Some considerable data collection took place during the recent Dolphin Watch by the Biological Sciences Department and several sightings of Dolphins were captured close range at 2 km distance.




This image is taken in the near IR and shows a dolphin at 2-3 km distance on the

right hand side. The sea is darker in the near IR and dolphin skin is more reflective

-          hence the image contrast is good. To see a video click here.



This image was taken in red light at a range of 2-3 km note

the difference in contrast between the dolphin and the sea.

To see a video click here.





Here are a range of captured images of boats from a few km away out towards the horizon at 30 km away. Note that these are single frame captures from video and have under gone no processing other than minor sharpening and contrast enhancement,


This was captured when sea conditions were slightly choppy and the boat was

rocking back an forth a lot. Atmospheric conditions are turbulent, and so the

image and video are both slightly blurry. At least two sea gulls can be seen

flying around the trawler. To see a video of this click here




In this example the boat is further away still, but atmospheric

turbulence is a lot less than the previous image. Possibly this is

a lobster boat? To see a video click here





Here we have two boats fairly close to the horizon.

The light band across the middle of the image represents

a different set of sea surface conditions to what the

boats are in. To see a video click here.




Finally this image, captured on 8th Apr

2008, shows a boat on the horizon, at about

31 km distance away. There are a couple of booms

sticking out and presumably it is either bow or stern

facing to the land. The sea surface conditions are

sparkling due to sun glint. For a full video click here.

More will be added to this web site, showing the kinds of ships, boats, sea surface conditions that we can capture.




Equipment Used:


Click on this link here to find out more.



For further details contact:

Dr Anthony Cook

Institute of Maths and Physical Sciences

University of Aberystwth

Email: atc @ aber.ac.uk

Home Page:



The information provided on this and other pages by me, Tony Cook (a t c @ a b e r . a c  . u k), is under my own personal responsibility and not that of the Aberystwyth University. Similarly, any opinions expressed are my own and are in no way to be taken as those of A.U.

Institute of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

The University of Aberystwyth