The abundance of marine macro-debris was quantified with high spatial resolution by applying an image processing technique to archived shoreline aerial photographs taken over Vancouver Island, Canada. The photographs taken from an airplane at oblique angles were processed by projective transformation for georeferencing, where five reference points were defined by comparing aerial photographs with satellite images of Google Earth. Thereafter, pixels of marine debris were extracted based on their color differences from the background beaches. The debris abundance can be evaluated by the ratio of an area covered by marine debris to that of the beach (percent cover). The horizontal distribution of percent cover of marine debris was successfully computed from 167 aerial photographs and was significantly related to offshore Ekman flows and winds (leeway drift and Stokes drift). Therefore, the estimated percent cover is useful information to determine priority sites for mitigating adverse impacts across broad areas.
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