Safeguarding glass sponge reefs – learn more about the journey of the IMAGE project in Canadian waters


Department Fisheries & Oceans Canada


Howe Sound, British Columbia, Canada


Insight Micro Underwater Laser Scanner & Stills Camera and Discovery Camera


Ocean Sciences


The 4 Goals

Monitoring Solution Development – The first goal centers on designing and integrating Voyis’ cutting-edge optical sensors into both an AUV and ROV platform, laying the foundation for efficient and remote MPA monitoring solution. 

Indigenous Training & Mission Planning – Recognizing the importance of incorporating traditional ecological knowledge, the IMAGE Project seeks to empower Indigenous communities with the technical capacity to actively participate in marine environmental monitoring and ocean conservation planning. 

Survey & Analysis – Execution of survey operations and meticulous data analysis, aligned with the developed mission plans, are pivotal for gaining valuable insights into marine habitats. 

Governance & Education – The final goal focuses on disseminating the collected data to enhance education and inform the development of novel methodologies and site establishment. 


3D Model

An interactive 3D model of a Glass Sponge Garden, generated with Voyis Discovery Camera.

The location chosen for the project’s implementation is Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound in British Columbia, Canada. This region is home to a substantial population of live glass sponge reefs, a unique habitat found exclusively along the Pacific coast of Canada and the United States. The ecological significance of these reefs cannot be overstated, as they play a critical role in filtering and processing carbon and nitrogen. Additionally, they provide shelter and support for a diverse community of marine species, including economically important ones like rockfish, spot prawns, lingcod, and crab. 

Despite their ecological importance, glass sponge reefs face threats from human activities, especially bottom-contact fishing and sedimentation. To safeguard these fragile ecosystems, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) established marine refuges through fishing closures. 


However, the slow growth rate of glass sponges and their limited recovery capacity demands continuous monitoring and adaptive management strategies. 

In response to these challenges, Voyis contributes significantly to the project with its cutting-edge imaging systems, the Insight Micro and Discovery Camera. These sensors enable researchers to acquire high-resolution, color-corrected 3D data of the glass sponge reefs which can be used for accurate photogrammetric reconstruction of the ecosystems to produce complete digital twin models. These volumetric models can be compared on subsequent surveys to detect changes in the reef’s health. The ability to deploy this remotely on autonomous vehicles improves the monitoring solution’s efficiency and effectiveness.  


Geospatial Classification using Machine Learning

An unsupervised training method automatically clusters the image data into a structured database. Representative images can be selected for each feature of interest, like “live reef”, “dead reef”, and then geospatially mapped to understand the distribution. With this new technology researchers can enhance their conservation planning and decision-making.



A selection of high-resolution images that allow governments and organizations to map and identify glass sponge reefs.



Our project partners played a vital role in realizing the vision of the IMAGE Project.

Shift Environmental Technologies Ltd. utilized its established connections with First Nations to streamline the training process for the indigenous community in ROV survey operations, while also seeking their input in identifying optimal survey locations.

The Marine Life Sanctuaries Society contributed invaluable local insights, enabling us to accurately pinpoint the glass sponge reefs and actively participate in their preservation efforts.


Voyis yellow icon

We provide versatile optical solutions to expand your underwater capability and enhance understanding of remote, challenging environments.

Proudly made in Canada 🍁

Contact Us

120 Randall Dr, Unit E
Waterloo, ON
N2V 1C6


Submit a Support Ticket

Privacy Policy