The goal of the SAMBA project was to design, develop, construct, and test an instrument that allows scanning large volumes of water for detecting a range of planktonic organisms, with a potential use in many environmental applications. The system should be able to discriminate organisms from other suspended particles, to count them and measure their sizes, and, ideally, provide information on whether or not the organisms are alive (or viable). We explored several options in both hardware and software development for visualization and data extraction. Computer vision techniques were developed and applied as part of our research goals. The project was carried out under a technical and financial partnership with Petrobras and Transpetro.


LAPS Optics laboratory in Ubatuba

Image capture with a high-speed camera (Photron SA2)

Plankton sampling in unusual environments (for a tropical scientist such as Fabiano Baldasso),
for behavioral observations using video systems (UWM, Milwaukee, USA)


SAMBA had since 2012 a companion project named ALOHA (acronym for the Portuguese title) with financial support from FINEP, a federal-level funding agency in Brazil. Objectives are similar in both projects but ALOHA includes an additional effort to study phytoplankton viability using vital and mortal staining techniques, and to give support to the analysis of suspended particle dynamics.

Some examples of videos captured at the Ubatuba lab: