Australian sea-floor survey data featured in the journal Nature Scientific Data

The data set consists of 9,874 annotated images all collected by the IMOS AUV between 2008-2013

Large swaths of the global sea floor have not been mapped in detail. New robotic methods can produce enormous amounts of high-quality sea floor data, but processing and annotating this information remains challenging. The authors of the Nature Scientific Data paper have released a large data set of sea floor survey data from around the Australian coast generated by the IMOS autonomous underwater vehicle, that has also been annotated collaboratively by four research groups using a standardized labelling scheme. 

This Australian benthic data set (BENTHOZ-2015) consists of an expert-annotated set of georeferenced benthic images and associated sensor data, captured by the IMOS autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) around Australia. This type of data is of interest to marine scientists studying benthic habitats and organisms.

AUVs collect georeferenced images over an area with consistent illumination and altitude, and make it possible to generate broad scale, photo-realistic 3D maps. Marine scientists then typically spend several minutes on each of thousands of images, labeling substratum type and biota at a subset of points. Labels from four Australian research groups were combined using the CATAMI classification scheme, a hierarchical classification scheme based on taxonomy and morphology for scoring marine imagery.

The data set presented in the paper contains 407,968 expert annotations of 9,874 georeferenced images with associated sensor data (latitude, longitude, depth, altitude, salinity and temperature) from around the Australian coast.

The surveys that collected this data form part of Australia's Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) ongoing benthic monitoring program. The extensive series of AUV-based benthic surveys were undertaken between 2008 and 2013, around Australia's coastline. Geographic locations include Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland (see map at right). Image and sensor data was gathered by the AUV Sirius. During each campaign, Sirius executed several missions, deployed at sites selected by the science party, typically focusing on temperate rocky reefs and coral reefs. Missions are defined by a set of georeferenced waypoints and instructions. The AUV autonomously captured images every 0.5 s, while maintaining a nominal 2 m altitude above the sea floor.

All images and sensor data (without expert annotations) captured by the AUV Sirius are available on the IMOS Ocean portal at The IMOS Ocean Portal is the official repository for IMOS AUV survey data; as such it contains additional images and sensor data from a large number of surveys not included in the published data set.

The complete data set described in the paper (BENTHOZ-2015) has been made available on Squidle at Squidle is a new web-based framework that facilitates the exploration, management and annotation of marine imagery. It provides a user-friendly interface that integrates spatial map-based data management tools with an advanced annotation system.

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Geographic distribution of annotated images. Image credit: Sci.Data 2: 150057 doi:10.1038/sdata.2015.57