Innovative AI technique enhances real-time tracking of manatees

The conservation of endangered species receives a technological boost as scientists at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) devise an artificial intelligence (AI) method that accurately counts manatee populations in real-time. 

Counting challenges and AI solution 

Counting manatees has long presented a challenge due to their herding behaviour, weather conditions, time of day and environmental factors that obscure their visibility. Water reflections can also hinder the counting process. 

Snail-inspired trash-collecting robot to target microplastics

Scientists have developed a small robotic device that can collect microplastics from the surfaces of oceans, seas and lakes. 

Plastic collection devices currently in use mostly use drag nets or conveyor belts to retrieve plastic debris from the ocean. These, unfortunately, are unable to collect microplastics, which enter our food chain after they are consumed by marine animals that eventually end up on our dinner plates.

Retreating ice, caused by climate change, has exposed the rocky shoreline of Cape Rasmussen on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Retreating ice, caused by climate change, has exposed the rocky shoreline of Cape Rasmussen on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Deploying marine robots to boost climate change research

Scientists believe that the ice shelves under the sea ice hold the keys to further our understanding of climate change. Unfortunately, diving to such areas to explore them is impossible.

How, then, can we access these areas?

Scientist Xi Yu from West Virginia University may have found the answer. She suggests deploying a fleet of marine robots, controlled by a smart mothership, to reach these inaccessible depths and transmit back invaluable insights.

Professor achieves an underwater first – ‘camping’

Underwater habitat
Diver Brandon Carr interfaces with an underwater robot outside of Ocean Space Habitat. Photo courtesy Jona Silvertein.

A May 2023 diving science and technology exercise successfully demonstrated the concept of an ‘underwater camping trip’.

The project took place within the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 facility, which is best known for its enclosed environments for earth science research, as well as studying human performance within such environments. The Biosphere 2 recently celebrated the recent accomplishment of enabling terrestrial Mars simulations at the Biosphere.

A tagged fin whale
A tagged fin whale

New satellite tag tracks long-term whale behaviour

Keeping an eye on whale behaviour is not easy, considering the fact that they travel vast distances and spend the majority of their time beneath the ocean surface.

To counter this, researchers at Oregon State University {OSU) have developed a new satellite tag that can track the whales' movements, even during dives.

Known as RDW, this new technology incorporates pressure and accelerometer sensors, thus giving the researchers the opportunity to monitor the whales’ movements underwater for several months.

Scapa Flow Wrecks: Multibeam Sonar Survey & 3D Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry of the mast of the Kronprinz Wilhelm wreck in Scapa Flow by 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee
The mast of the Kronprinz Wilhelm wreck, rendered in 3D photogrammetry by professors Chris Rowland and Kari Hyttinen of 3DVisLab at the University of Dundee in Scotland, United Kingdom

Scapa Flow, located in the Orkney Islands of Scotland, is the site of the scuttling of the High Seas Fleet of the Imperial German Navy in June 1919 at the end of World War I. While many of the wrecks were salvaged following the war, the remaining wrecks have become popular dive sites. In recent times, efforts to learn more about these wrecks through multibeam sonar surveys and 3D photogrammetry have taken place. Rosemary E.

Scientists are 3D printing calcium carbonate surfaces that corals can grow on.
Scientists are 3D printing calcium carbonate surfaces that corals can grow on.

Using 3D printing to restore coral reefs

A team of scientists at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology are applying innovative approaches to 3D printing solutions in a bid to restore depleted coral reefs.

Instead of using synthetic or hybrid materials, they have developed a new approach called 3D CoraPrint, which uses an eco-friendly and sustainable calcium carbonate photo-initiated (CCP) ink that they also developed.

In the colonization process, coral microfragments are attached to a printed skeleton. There are two methods used, and both start with a scanned model of the coral skeleton.

Narwhal being tagged.
Narwhal being tagged.

Artificial intelligence shines light on narwhal's hunting behavior

Narwhals, notwithstanding their unicorn-like tusks, are a mysterious species. They live in distant Arctic regions and hunt as deep as 1,000 meters down. 

They orient themselves using echolocation, making clicking sounds to explore their surroundings. When they hunt, the clicking sounds turn into buzzing sounds as the interval times shorten.