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The science Of oceanic optics began at 4 p.m., 20 April 1865, when an Italian priest lowered a white disk over the side of a Papal sloop to determine water clarity in the Tyrrhenian Sea by measuring the depth at which the disk disappeared from sight Oceanic optics— underwater optics including effects of the sea surface it-Self--has since developed into a field of vigorous basic and applied research. The importance of this research is seen in several recent actions. The Optical Society of America has expanded its technical group on Atmospheric Optics to
Atmospheric and Oceanic Optics. The American Society of Limnology and Oceanography now recognizes optical oceanography as the equal of the traditional physical, bioipgical, chemical, and geological subdisciplines of oceanography. And most significantly, in 1988 the U.S. Navy established the Oceanic Optics Program at the Office of Naval Research. This program provides a federal source of funding dedicated to basic research in oceanic optics.