Measuring vegetation underwater
This effort aims to create a map of underwater vegetation in the Surfside area, from Governer’s Bay / West Deck / Rooi Manonchi all the way over to Surf Side Beach Bar / Airport / Renaissance Island end.
From the beach to the reef beyond the reef islands, this will be covered by taking pictures underwater with the help of volunteer citizen scientists, paddling Kayaks, windsurfing, driving boats, diving, taking pictures with GoPros strapped underneath them pointing down. The images will be collected and put together like a puzzle, and people can help us identify different elements on the seafloor by visiting our zooniverse project page and identifying sand, rocks, vegetation, and coral in the images.
In order to validate the map, to check if it is correct, we have a marine biologist who will guide the ScubbleBubbles diving team to collect information about the seafloor, which we will compare to our map.
Specialists on our team with expertise in AI image analysis will process identified images to teach a computer model to recognize contents of images in order to automatically process images that are uploaded. Following this our software team will
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Later, our software engineer will develop a system to automatically upload the results to our website’s database. This way, we can see what percentage of Surfside Beach is composed of vegetation and coral. In the long term, we can also measure changes in the future, whether it becomes less/more or stays the same.
Part 1 Coming soon Manual seafloor mapping fieldwork
Part 2 Coming soon Manual of AI Seafloor Mapping
Coming Soon DATA link
Why measure vegetation in the water?
71% of the world is covered by water. This covers a total of 362 million km2 of the world, but only a small fraction has been mapped for direct observation. We have less knowledge of the ocean compared to how much we know about the landscape of Mars. However, this information is crucial for our well-being. By measuring the changes in vegetation and coral in the ocean, we can see how it affects life in the ocean and along the coast.
Seagrass absorbs a large amount of carbon dioxide from the water like how trees absorb it from the air, which helps to slow down the process of climate change. It has even been suggested that seagrass meadows can absorb carbon dioxide 40 times more efficiently than rainforests on land. This makes seagrass a significant contributor in reducing carbon dioxide in the water and helps to maintain a healthy pH level.
Seagrass also forms a habitat and a food source for more than 1,000 species of fish and seafood, such as crabs, baby fish, shellfish, urchins, turtles, and fish that are caught and eaten by humans. Seagrass creates its own food through photosynthesis and is essential in the food web.
Seagrass provides support for our reefs and protects our coast from bad weather and rising tides because their roots hold onto the ocean floor like an anchor, which consumes the energy from the waves that hit the coast. Seagrass also keeps the water clean by absorbing nutrients and bacteria.
Coral covers only 1% of the ocean floor worldwide, but it supports 25% of all marine species in the world. It has been estimated that there are around 2 million species living in coral reefs, with even more species yet to be discovered, making it the ecosystem with the most diversity in the world. Coral reefs also absorb 97% of the wave energy, which is a significant help in preventing waves from hitting the coast during storms.
Coral is a living animal, and the reef is a structure formed by the accumulation of coral, which grows together and can extend up to 100 km in length. It takes a long time for the coral to grow, with the fastest growing coral only growing 15 cm per year, and as it grows, it grows slower. Coral has been found to have lived for more than 4,000 years, and you can tell its age by counting the rings in its structure, similar to how you can tell the age of a tree. This shows how much time it takes for coral to become large and form a coral reef.