I’m gonna level with you, my loyal Venger-ers, this Really Awesome Development (R.A.D. – get it??) makes me kinda sad. For us marine scientists, the science part is pretty much just an excuse to get in the water – we live for field days and wither away when trapped in our cubicles for too long. That being said, fieldwork is incredibly expensive and time-consuming (and, therefore, even more expensive), which places significant limits on the amount of science that gets done.
Enter these Filipino researchers who developed a device to snag underwater pictures of coral reefs (it’s a GoPro on a stick, basically – whatever works!) and then wrote an algorithm to analyze the contents of the photos. Armed thusly, they can monitor large areas of reef much more cheaply and quickly than through traditional scuba methods. Despite the very real fact that we’re losing coral reefs left and right to climate change, they still cover a huge swath of ocean and the more of that we can monitor, the better able we will be to preserve these incredible places. And, of course, it’s always good to have a human double check the machines, right? At least in a little area. I’m just gonna get in and swim around. Real quick. Promise.