AbstractOptical communication promises to be a high-rate supplement for acoustic communication in short-range underwater applications. In the photic zone of oceanic and coastal waters, underwater optical communication systems are exposed by remaining sunlight. This ambient light generates additional noise in photodetectors, thus degrading system performance. This effect can be diminished by the use of optical filters. This paper investigates light field characteristics of different water types and potential interactions with optical underwater communication. A colored glass and different thin film bandpass filters are examined as filter/detector combinations under varying light and water conditions, and their physical constraints are depicted. This is underlined by various spectral measurements as well as optical signal-to-noise ratio calculations. The importance of matching the characteristics of the light emitting diode (LED) light source, the photodetector, and the filter on the ambient conditions using wider angle of incidents is emphasized.