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  • Roosje Rutten

Freshwater Mussel Monitoring with Rijkswaterstaat

In collaboration with Rijkswaterstaat’s CIV department Mobiel Meten we've showcased how Lobster Scout improves accuracy in monitoring freshwater mussel populations, thereby accelerating water quality surveillance.

Client: CIV department Mobiel Meten, Rijkswaterstaat, executive agency for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands

Period: October 2023

Location(s): Ketelmeer, The Netherlands

Key takeaways

In this pilot, we have:

  1. Refined Rijkswaterstaat's freshwater mussel coverage and biomass estimate with a 5.4 x times more accurate estimate by replacing diver samples with high resolution, high quantity seabed mapping.

  2. Automated the species recognition and quantification through an AI prototype, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the data analysis.

'This pilot has shown us the potential of using autonomous underwater drones. We were positively surprised by the high quality of the images that the Lobster Scout made, despite the murky waters of the location. The quality and the scale of their orthophotomosaics already opens new ways to improve our data acquisition for the future.'

- Xander Udo, Water Quality Advisor at Rijkswaterstaat.


Freshwater Mussel (Dreissena)


Rijkswaterstaat currently relies on time-consuming and labor-intensive fieldwork to gather data on freshwater mussels, which is both costly and inefficient. This involves meticulous collection of physical samples and manual analysis of underwater photos in the laboratory.

However, this approach only provides rough estimates of mussel coverage and biomass due to the limited number of samples collected manually.

Therefore, not only do they face challenges with data collection and analysis, but their current methods also hinder data quality improvement.





We've demonstrated the efficiency of using Lobster Scout for improved information acquisition and processing. In one day our underwater drone was able to capture 33,900 photos of the lake bed of Ketelmeer, creating a comprehensive orthomosaic of the lakebed. By exploiting the contrast between the mussels and the lakebed, we're able to provide a much more accurate, automated assessment of the population size and eventually biomass and coverage estimates.

This automated approach significantly scales up ground coverage, offering enhanced safety, simplicity, speed, and accuracy.

Dreissena were identified on these photos. The maps also show the difference in coverage density of the freshwater mussel beds, highly variable based on the position. In the second photo, a freshwater lobster also made an appearance.

The coverage percentage is estimated by exploiting the contrast between the dark mussels and the bright soil. This photo shows a processed mosaic.


Improving the accurracy and efficiency of these biological surveys supports sustainable management of the Dutch waterways. We're proud to contribute a small piece in Rijkswaterstaat's ongoing efforts to improve their services and develop more sustainable methodologies of field data acquisition.

Behind the scenes



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