Intel is using AI to try and save coral reefs

The company partnered with Accenture to create underwater cameras equipped to monitor marine life and help with decision-making that could save coral reefs.

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Intel has announced an initiative called Project: CORaiL, an artificial intelligence-powered solution to monitor sea life around coral reefs in the Philippines and help officials make data-driven decisions on how best to protect them. The company is working with Accenture, which developed underwater cameras equipped with its own video analytics platform that can classify and count marine life as it passes through the reefs, and monitor changes.

According to Intel, more than 800 species of corals worldwide provide habitat and shelter for 25 percent of global marine life. Corals benefit humans by protecting coastlines from tropical storms and provide food and income for roughly 1 billion people. So monitoring them and understanding what state of health they're in is important for making decisions on what level of action must be taken to preserve the corals. And decisions need to be made fast. A change in water temperature of even a couple of degrees can lead to coral bleaching and whole reefs dying, often taking the life they sustain with them to the grave.

Accenture underwater camera.Intel

Coral degradation has become a serious issue as pollution, overfishing and global warming have caused over 50 percent of the world's reefs to die in the past 30 years alone.

The speed of streaming video — The existing method used to count and classify underwater life is simply divers going down with video cameras. The downside is that divers can only go down for about 30 minutes before needing air, and they can interfere with wildlife behavior by scaring off the fish — which obviously makes it difficult to get an accurate count. The cameras Accenture and Intel have created send streaming video and analytics immediately up to the surface so that researchers can do a lot more data collection, over longer periods, and with faster resultant extrapolation.

Intel also worked with an organization called Sulubaaï to create concrete platforms that offer physical support to weak coral reefs in need of it as they grow and expand. The concrete platforms are embedded with coral fragments and can also be used to help bolster existing but declining reefs. Projects like these are crucial if natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia are to endure. Because as it stands, the odds look poor.