AI Being Used To Aid Coral Reef Conservation Efforts

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Corporations and nonprofits are both developing and testing technologies needed to improve ocean conservation efforts

A recent study from the University of Queensland found that coordinated efforts can lead to the full recovery of marine ecosystems by 2050, according to Science Daily. Coordinated efforts should focus on the following aspects of marine ecosystems: salt marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, kelp, oyster reefs, fisheries, megafauna and the deep sea, according to Science Alert. Different technologies and philanthropic efforts are being leveraged to address vulnerabilities of earth’s marine ecosystem. The study highlights how there has been observed recovery from different conservation efforts.

"Despite humanity having greatly distorted our oceans, recent interventions have led to a number of remarkable success stories," University of Queensland scientist Professor Catherine Lovelock said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is partnering with Vulcan to collaborate by sharing technology and jointly working to map the deep sea, according to GeekWire. Vulcan is a company started by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, aimed at furthering his philanthropic endeavors. Mapping the deep sea is critical both to ocean and climate conservation. Typically, salinity levels and temperatures from the ocean floor are taken in hopes of better understanding the relationship between changing weather and changing conditions at the ocean floor.

“Lack of knowledge and not being able to monitor progress toward better ocean health is a fundamental shortcoming when trying to build a successful strategy,” Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said. “We see this knowledge gap as a call to action. Together with partners such as NOAA, we will help provide foundational data to inform the restoration and protection of our oceans.”

Accenture and Intel have partnered to use artificial intelligence technology in monitoring the health of coral reefs, according to ZD Net. A reef’s health is measured by the diversity and volume of fish that swim through it. The new technology relies on cameras that are placed inside a coral reef and the visual data that is recorded, either photos or videos, are analyzed. The alternative is relying on deep sea divers that collect data but can only be in the water for up to half an hour.

The technology not only collects data on a coral reef’s health, but also contributes to bettering the health of coral reefs. The cameras are attached to a concrete platform from which unfixed corals can be attached to as well. There is a 76% survival rate for corals that are attached to the concrete platform, according to ZD Net. Corals can become unfixed from their ecosystem from dynamite fishing.

Allen Coral Atlas is also interested in protecting coral reefs and relies on satellite technology to do so. The initiative plans to have all of the world’s coral reefs mapped through satellite imagery by summer 2021. The aim is to increase the amount of public information on the state of coral reefs. By increasing access to this type of information, policy makers and conservationists can be more informed in their efforts to improve the state of coral reefs.

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