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A Deeper Look into the Ocean

By Andreas Merkl, President, Ocean Conservancy

A Deeper Look into the Ocean

High-Tech Solutions Protecting the Corals, Rebuilding the Underwater World

By Enterprise Technology Review | Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Coral reef scientists and researchers are adopting technological advantages to access high-tech solutions and capabilities against human or climatic issues.  

FREMONT, CA: Technology is not only a necessity to live a luxurious and hustle-free life, but also to solve survival issues and restorations of other biological elements on the planet. Recent and fantastic advantages of latest technologies provide protection and safety guard to the rich biodiversity, including coral reefs. The irreplaceable host, the coral reef is important to sustain the livelihood of underwater or marine life. The coral reef ecosystem not only offers homage to the underwater experiences but also nurture and protect them from wave energy, benefiting indirectly to the humans by providing tons of fish and standing against the storm formation. To harness and preserve the coral reefs, the latest innovations are inclusively contributing to the development and accelerate solutions to its management and foster a more sustainable environment. Technologies like smart sensors, Artificial Intelligence (AI), data analytics, and 3D modeling can effectively survey and access the conditions to improve coral reefs managements.

· Artificial Intelligence

Saving the coral reefs through the technologies triggers the now existing ideas of “smart” real building. Reef-saving technology highly includes refinement of already existing corals; it allows re-engineering and monitoring the growth of corals. Drones integrated with artificial intelligence can help for reseeding the coral reefs in the crucial areas. The automated data collecting facilities offer the responsible authorities to process the collected data quickly and analyze reports for coral locations, rehabilitation, and protection in lesser time and expense. Likewise, smart device as underwater scooters with cameras allows the researchers to access in-depth analysis for reef health and natural growth. The latest method of data collection helps the scientist to find solutions to save coral lives from the increasing heat on the ocean surface due to global warming and pollutions. Implementing cloud-based analysis, and auto-generation and distribution of comparison reports, helps to reduce the research and monitoring cost.  

· Smart Sensors

Coral reef restoration can explore significant benefits for remote sensing technologies, which adequately address the issues underwater. Providing a broad scope for conservation and restoration, smart sensor integration can successfully create a dynamic database for coral reef information. A valuable database can include the linking habitat type and identifying its species-specific species to excel in reef restoration design and monitoring. Coral reef remote sensors significantly measures and model the primary production and metabolism, resulting with specific reef form, structure, and its hydrodynamic processes. It monitors the reef condition and identifies the composition from site to oceanic basin scales. The results efficiently support the coral reef segments in management, research, and the entire industry. It provided information is utilized by geologists, biologist, ecologists, engineers, and natural resources authority through optical and active systems. The technology covers numerous beneficial factors such as exploring a variety of platforms, reducing data acquisition costs, increasing access to massive data and precise analysis, and ability to link field instruments with remotely sensed data.

· 3D Printing

Creating an artificial reef structure provides various benefits of a custom-design reef mold. 3D printing creates an exact replication of the intricate structure of existing reefs, which can attract curious fish and shelter them and form a marine community. Building reef designs from naturally grown coral help the biologist to study and explore new possibilities to assess the methods for yielding permanent coral habitats and other reef organisms. Specialized equipment and expertise for 3D printing allows scaling up custom reef designs and targeting research on optimal coral farming methods. The temporary solutions to create coral reefs help the researcher and the public to study the same problems affecting the ocean. Perfectly mimicking the natural reef offers inhabitation to thousands of creatures and continues ref restoration.

A technological approach to save the natural world under the water involves the contributions of scientists, educators, conservationists, and educated peoples. Efforts, like replicating reefs and regularly studying the climatic changes and its impacts, are made possible by the latest technological advancements. Smart solutions like application interfaces facilitate the real-time integration of data and share permissions carefully with the users and different departments saving time and cost. Coral scientists are accepting high-tech solutions to collect, manage, and share their data with the local communities and related authorizes, to take faster evidence-based decisions for coral reef conservation and management. Advantages from the machine learning platforms help the scientist to deliver solutions for reefs sustainability and hope for the future generation.

To save the endangered coral reefs, development teams are initiating various projects to tackle the problems and issues effectively. Significant projects like releasing underwater robots, constructing artificial coral reefs with ceramic, and developing ultra-thin shield over reefs to protect from sun and resulting heat waves are some of the examples of the innovative contribution. Regardless of many challenges, the protection of coral diversity stands at the prior stage for scientist and researchers. The intervention of technology and its need are well recognized by the authorities, which leads them to provide all the required resources and fulfill requirements for the novel projects. Some of the research also enables solutions for enhancing the abilities of corals to cope with climate change. New conventional management methods increase the efforts of scientists, while primarily supporting them to mitigate climate changes and regional management for water qualities. 

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