Coral reefs are incredibly colorful. If, however, you happened to be happily swimming over top of one with your eyes encased in a mask, you would not notice just how colorful they are. That’s because water absorbs and scatters light at different wavelengths, washing out all that vibrancy and replacing it with a kind of greenish-blue hue, depending on where you’re looking. Enter Sea-thru, an algorithm that changes that.
Created by an engineer and oceanographer named Derya Akkaynak, the aptly named Sea-thru takes an image, factors in light absorption and the scattering effect, then pixel by pixel, restores those colors that have disappeared underwater.
While it is indeed an interesting look at how things beneath the surface would look without water, Sea-thru will prove to be extraordinarily useful to those who study reefs.
“What I like about this approach is that it’s really about obtaining true colors,” Pim Bongaerts, a coral biologist at the California Academy of Sciences, told Scientific American. “Getting true color could really help us get a lot more worth out of our current data sets.”