Coral reefs, some of the most important ecosystems in the world, are in a global decline — and climate change is a key cause.

With an estimated 2 million different kinds of animals living in or near coral reefs, it can be argued that the biodiversity found in them beats that of the Amazon rainforest. What’s more, an estimated 1 billion people benefit either directly or indirectly from the ecosystem services coral reefs provide.

While the restoration of coral reefs is urgent, the process is time consuming and labor intensive. Three fundamental obstacles deter the ability to rescue coral reels, said Sonia Gameiro, head of the sustainability consulting practice for the information tech company Orange Business in Europe.

The first is the inability to frequently monitor coral reefs to collect data. At the moment, a diver needs to go under water and manually write notes on the species. The accuracy of the data is also questionable because the disturbances caused by the diver could make species hide or flee. Lastly, it is operationally inefficient as a marine biologists' time could be better spent on coral restoration rather than data collection.

To tackle these challenges, Orange Business linked up with Tēnaka, a social enterprise focused on restoring coral reefs, to develop a solution based on artificial intelligence.

The result is an autonomous marine research system designed by Orange Business and Tēnaka in partnership with Yucca Labs, a company specialized in product design and engineering. The research station is equipped with underwater monitoring devices and the solar-powered floating buoys that are connected to the 4G cellular network to transfer images.

The collaboration aims to restore nearly 5,000 square meters of coral reefs in a marine protected area of the Coral Triangle in Malaysia, the most diverse marine ecosystem on the planet.

Read the full article about artificial intelligence and the coral reef by Abha Malpani Naismith at Triple Pundit.