Polarizational Characteristics of the Underwater World

  • Gábor Horváth
  • Dezső Varjú


In qualitative submarine visual observations down to 15 m, Waterman (1954) found that aquatic animals of the photic zone are surrounded by complex polarization patterns. He used a diving helmet and a hand-held polarization analyser, in which the light first passed through a plate of a uniaxial crystal cut perpendicularly to its optical axis, then through a quarter-wave plate and a linearly polarizing filter. The intensity of unpolarized light passing through this polariscope simply decreases. If the incident light is partially linearly polarized, a brightly coloured interference pattern of concentric, broken rings appears in the polariscope, from which the presence of polarization, the Evector direction as well as a rough estimate of the degree of linear polarization p can be deduced. The interruptions of the broken rings occur in orthogonal quadrants, and the axis of one of the pairs of these opposed quadrants is parallel to the E-vector of incident light. Both the intensity of the pattern and the number of concentric rings vary with p. With this polariscope, the E-vector direction could be obtained with an accuracy of about ±3°.


Polarizational Characteristic Critical Depth Polarization Pattern Uniaxial Crystal Break Ring 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gábor Horváth
    • 1
  • Dezső Varjú
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological PhysicsEötvös UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Lehrstuhl Kognitive NeurowissenschaftenUniversität TübingenTübingenGermany

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