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Coral Reef Monitoring & Response

Healthy coral reef slope, © Matt Curnock 2013.
Healthy coral reef slope, © Matt Curnock 2013.

Test Bed Vision:

This research test bed aims to develop novel monitoring and response technologies for coral reefs, based on our expertise in advanced materials, sensors, and autonomous robotics. We want to achieve our goals through close collaboration with internal and external partners working in the marine environment, to facilitate our detailed understanding of the requirements and priorities in the marine domain and validation of the developed technology in field deployments.

Coral reefs are unique, beautiful, and mysterious. Home to a large number of marine animal species, coral reefs both protect and provide. They protect us from severe weather systems and provide food for our tables. We know now that coral reefs are fragile and despite their massive size, large areas of the reef can be impacted by small variations of the environmental conditions. Existing scientific evidence shows that the reefs are in danger from global warming, pollution, over-fishing, and boat traffic. Yet comprehensive understanding of the state and the future of the reef is unclear, due to the need to collect data over a large spatial scale and the forbidding environmental conditions for sensors to operate in. It is essential to collect more detailed data in this unique ecosystem, to model the impact of human activities and the changing environment, and to develop technologies to help us manage the reef on a large scale. We seek to develop new coral reef monitoring and response solutions by combining advanced materials, sensing, and autonomous robotics technologies. Working with our partners and collaborators, we’d like to develop airborne hyperspectral sensors specifically designed for marine environments, large scale networks of low-cost biodegradable micro-buoys, autonomous mobile sensing platforms that last, and novel marine sensors that allow us to sense reef ecosystem relationships currently poorly understood. We will apply the developed technology in specific marine applications, including qualitative evaluation of the reef health, detection of illegal fishing or shipping, and monitoring and management of major threats to the reef, such as outbreaks of toxic algal blooms and crown of thorns starfish.

This test bed is led by Brano Kusy from Data61, Pullenvale and  Antonio Robles-Kelly from Data61, and is a collaboration by staff from CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere, Land & Water, Agriculture & Food, Data61 and Manufacturing.