SeaBee at GeoHab Conference

SeaBee experts attend this year’s international GeoHab conference (Marine Geological and Biological Habitat Mapping) at Réunion Island.

They gave two talks and contributed to a poster.

How we use drones to map under-studied regions

Kasper Hancke (NIVA, SeaBee’s coordinator) presented the SeaBee research infrastructure and how SeaBee uses flying and surface drones to map shallow water habitats in the coastal zone. Kasper focused on the narrow stretch of coastline that hosts vegetated habitats. It stretches from the upper intertidal line to the bottom of the euphotic zone (10-30 m water depth). This is a zone that is under-studied in most mapping and monitoring programs due to the shortcomings of traditional data collection techniques, however drone-based assessments are ideal here.

Kasper Hancke in action, presenting SeaBee at GeoHab conference, 8th – 12th May 2023
A selection of current and future applications of SeaBee research infrastructure, presented by Kasper Hancke at GeoHab conference 8th - 12th May 2023.


It was a great pleasure for us to share and discuss our current work on developing drones, sensors, AI/ML analysis tools, and data visualization solutions – Kasper Hancke, SeaBee Coordinator 


How SeaBee supports research and innovation

Hege Gundersen (NIVA, SeaBee’s co-lead and project lead for KELPMAP) presented the first results from the KELPMAP innovation project. KELPMAP develops novel tools for kelp forests mapping using drone products and machine learning-based image classification. KELPMAP is funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency. It collaborates with SeaBee on kelp forest habitat mapping, and aims to improve marine management actions.

Kasper Hancke presented a poster on behalf of the MASSIMAL project team (led by Martin Skjelvareid, funded by the Norwegian Research Council). The poster showed results from using hyperspectral imaging for benthic habitat mapping. 


Mapping seagrass and rockweed habitats using UAV hyperspectral imaging and machine learning

View over Vega archipelago (above) and different steps of the mapping process (below) used in the KELPMAP innovation project. The protocol used by KELPMAP (and above illustration) is developed in collaboration with the SeaBee and OBAMA-NEXT projects. Pictures from presentation by H. Gundersen at GeoHab conference, 9th May 2023.


GeoHab represents an international group of people dedicated to marine habitat mapping. GeoHab gathers ~150 experts, students, stakeholders, and industry partners from around the world for an annual conference. The GeoHab conference was held from 8th – 12th May 2023 on Rèunion Island. The conference proceedings can be found here, open access.

Sustainable and efficient research support

SeaBee at NIVA Sør´s 40th jubilee

NIVA Sør celebrated recently its 40th jubilee. Several SeaBee experts attended, and among them Øyvind Tangen Ødegaard, a senior engineer at NIVA, and one of SeaBee’s skilled drone pilots/technicians.

Øyvind presented SeaBee, highlighting how drones provide sustainable and efficient support for coastal research in Norway. Drones can be equipped with sensors that collect images and multiple types of data. Data collection using drones is a key part of the SeaBee drone-based research infrastructure.

Øyvind describes the different types of drones (flying, floating and underwater) that can be used to support research (left), and how drones can support coastal mapping and monitoring (right). Photo taken 27th April, NIVA Sør Jubilee, Grimstad.
Drone advantages

Drones offer several advantages over traditional field data collection methods, such as:

  • The ability to collect data in real, or almost real-time
  • Being cost-effective to use, and having less impact on the environment
  • Covering a larger area and reaching more difficult-to-access field sites
  • Allowing communities to collect data in a cost-effective and accessible way that supports citizen science

‘Drones can be particularly useful for regional monitoring and research, as they offer a sustainable and efficient way to collect data over large areas of coastline’ – Øyvind Tangen Ødegaard.


Traditional methods still valid

However, data collected by drones still needs the original context of what was happening in the field at the time. Context allows the data to be analysed and used in the best possible way, and helps with quality assurance. Therefore, there is still a need for traditional field methods.

It takes time to integrate drone sensors, and to automate collecting and processing data. Integration and automation are guided by traditionally collected data. The machine learning algorithms used for automating data processes are often trained and quality controlled using data collected with traditional methods (see Drone Data Product Validation for details on how this is done in SeaBee).

Øyvind explains the features of the SeaBee maritime robotics Otter during a break at the NIVA Sør jubilee. Photo taken 27th April, NIVA Sør Jubilee.

By using drones, scientists working with coastal management can reduce costs, limit environmental impact, and enhance research efforts.

For more information about SeaBee drones: SeaBee Tech