Swansea University 3D scans sea life

Marine biologist use tags to gather data on the speed and activity levels of animals, offering detailed information on migration patterns and the effects of ocean temperatures on their behavior. A project led by students of Swansea University are using 3D scanning to create full body scans of these animals in order to make customized tags.

Your can find a quick video explaining their project here.

The Swansea University’s Lab for Animal Movement (SLAM) is trying to understand more about the lives of marine animals in the depths of the ocean, even when they are out of sight, using state-of-the-art tagging technology and leading data visualization techniques.

Led by Lloyd Hopkins, a Ph.D student, SLAM have been focused on developing innovative methods for attaching these tags to various marine animals in a non-invasive, easy-to-use way. If the tags are too loose – they will be ineffective and might even fall off. Too tight and you will cause distress to the animal.

“Ethical development of tagging practices and techniques is an important benchmark, but new technologies that allow us to fully quantify and simulate a tag’s effect on an animal are often under-utilized or unexplored,” said Hopkins.

To create form-fitting attachments for the animals they would need to have extremely accurate measurements of the animal’s shape, and you can really measure a dolphin with a ruler, so they turned to 3D scanning. The project used Artec’s most popular 3D scanner, Artec Eva, and combined it with Artec Studio 12 scanning and post-processing software. The advantage that Artec Eva has is that unlike most scanners it can scan wet, shiny and moving objects.

Hopkins claims that without the use of this technology, much of the development phase of SLAM’s project would have to rely on sparse, estimated data that might not translate properly to a real-world application. “We’re pretty confident here that use of 3D scanning techniques will be widely adopted as standard in the future for this type of research,” said Hopkins.

“Once we had decided on 3D scanning as a method, the Artec brand stood out quite quickly due to its usability, its functionality, and it’s fantastically powerful software that did most of the hard work for us.”

The information gathered via 3D scanning was much more reliable and precise compared to records obtained the traditional way, by hand. This type of data capture is time-consuming, leaving room for error and it can make it harder to understand how these measurements fit together in space relative to the animal.

Jackson, Beau, et al. “Swansea University Use Artec 3D Scanners to Save Sealife.” 3D Printing Industry, 21 June 2019, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/swansea-university-use-artec-3d-scanners-to-save-sealife-157579/.