The laser line scan (LLS) system uses a sweeping blue-green laser to reflect light across the sea floor and to generate a gray-scale image similar to a black-and-white photograph. Click image for larger view and image credit.

Operation Laser Line 2006

November 8 - 13, 2006

Mapping the coral reefs has been identified as one of the first and most important steps needed to address the increasing decline of the world’s coral reefs. Either photography or direct observation is required to identify corals and other coral-reef community organisms, but only small areas can be covered with these techniques. Laser line scanning has been suggested as an alternative method that can provide high-resolution imagery of the sea floor over a much wider area than conventional photography. Laser line scan (LLS) systems sweep a blue-green laser across the ocean bottom and use the reflected light to generate a gray-scale image of the sea floor, similar to black-and-white photography.

The NOAA Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center, in collaboration with partners from the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, the Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, and the University of Hawaii Botany Department will embark on a six- day research cruise, from November 8 to 13, 2006. The only commercially available LLS system in the world will be deployed at a handful of sites off the coast of Maui. Expedition survey targets include beds of commercially harvested black coral; a recently discovered, deep, hard-coral reef; an important nursery area and fishing site for commercially harvested groundfish; deep algae beds; and a World War II aircraft wreck. This wide range of targets will enable us to thoroughly evaluate LLS technology, and hopefully provide the impetus to design less expensive and more capable LLS systems to meet the management and research needs of our coral reef ecosystems.


Mission Facts


Updates & Logs
Click images or links below for detailed mission logs and updates.

nov 20 Mission Summary Although the Operation Laser Line 2006 did not go as planned, the team collected enough laser data to evaluate the effectiveness of the laser line scanner in coral reef ecosystems.
nov 20 November 20 The laser line scanner (LLS) is recovered from the bottom of the ocean!

nov 13 November 13 The Operation Laser Line team adapts to the new circumstances and begins underwater mapping off Hawaii's Big Island.

nov 11 November 11 For Chief Scientist John Rooney and the Laser Line team, high hopes have ended in disappointment.

nov 10 November 10 "We lost the 'fish'!" The tow sled accidentally strikes an escarpment, which leads to the loss of the laser line scanner.

nov 9 November 9 The team tests the laser line scanner and creates near photographic maps of the sea floor and its inhabitants, including small white sea fans living at 250 m depth.