One kilometre underwater, deep-sea coral reefs support incredible biodiversity. Now, CSIRO researchers are using AI to better understand and protect these reefs.
Home to many sea creatures, deep-sea coral reefs are vibrant but sensitive communities. They can be easily damaged by fishing nets from ships, and it can be difficult to see the impacts because they’re hidden underwater.
Currently, special cameras are used to photograph the seabed to monitor these coral reefs. The photos can help scientists assess coral health and identify signs of damage.
But telling these signs from photos is no easy feat. It can take scientists months to go through thousands of photos, so CSIRO trained AI to help. After teaching their AI to ignore photobombs by sea stars, the AI model could categorise more than 2,300 new photos by coral features in under 20 minutes.
“This is a task that would take a person more than 3 months,” Chris Jackett from CSIRO says. Chris is hopeful that AI can help his team improve the protection of deep-sea coral reefs.