Cousteau’s Data, the Data for Cousteau

Image from cousteau.org.

Link: Measuring climate change, on the backs of scuba divers

Quick, name your favorite marine scientist. Go ahead and do it. OK, now, I have three points to make about what you just said:

  1. Not enough of you said Sylvia Earle because she’s a woman and the patriarchy exists (not that you’re to blame for that).
  2. Most of you said Jacques Cousteau because he’s the only marine scientist you know.
  3. The rest of you said Steve Zissou from Life Aquatic (my personal choice).
  4. Whoever is left said the Crocodile Hunter.

There was no right answer to this quiz, I just wanted a way to introduce the originator of this week’s R.A.D. idea, and son of Jacques Cousteau, Pierre-Yves Cousteau. He’s doing with people what those Stanford scientists are doing with jellyfish. Not turning them into cyborgs (honestly, that might be radder) but exploiting them for sweet, sweet data on the ocean. With Cousteau Divers’ Project Hermes Remora devices attached to their scuba tanks, divers automatically collect temperature and other data on each dive to populate an open access database for scientists and the public.

Just like the jellyfish (and this surfboard fin), the idea here is to expand the area of the ocean actively being monitored to fuel climate and other research. While satellites provide a pretty complete picture of sea surface temperatures (thanks NASA)!, what’s missing in the majority of places is how temperature changes as you go deeper. In coastal areas, the Project Hermes divers will help to fill that gap.

While participation is limited to dive professionals at this point, maybe in the future all of us weekend warriors will have a nifty sensor attached to our own air tanks. After all, with big data projects like this, the more the mariner!

Johnny Venger is 50/50 on whether that mariner pun deserves a medal or requires immediate termination.

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