This project is using AI and drones to track and protect great white sharks

Credit: Unsplash

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Marine scientists are using AI and drones to better understand the habits and movements of sharks.
  • Artificial intelligence can identify different shark types on video footage and warn officials of pending danger.
  • A growing information database can help avoid future attacks. It can also assist efforts to preserve species in future.

Despite their menacing big-screen presence, sharks rarely attack humans. Meanwhile, man-made pressures including habitat loss, overfishing and illegal fishing cause untold damage to shark populations – it’s estimated 100 million are killed by humans every year.

It’s vital we protect sharks and their key role in ocean health as well as ensuring the water is safe for coastal communities. And a number of organizations are using technology to help boost our understanding in this area.

Among those doing so is a team of oceanographers in California, who are collaborating with AI specialists to observe the behaviour and habits of sharks to help conservation efforts.


But spotting great white sharks isn’t easy from the water, so Doug McCauley and his team of researchers from the Benioff Ocean Initiative at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), have taken to the skies. Project SharkEye uses drone technology to fly above the waves and record what’s happening in the ocean below.

Working with experts from Salesforce AI Research and data scientists from San Diego State University, the project has created a bespoke AI model that understands sharks and identifies different species using the creature’s length.

Video footage captured by drones is scanned using Salesforce’s Einstein Vision AI tool to identify great white sharks caught on camera, with around 95% accuracy, the team says. Sightings are shared with local public safety officials and beach communities to help prevent attacks. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1293627060489818112&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.weforum.org%2Fagenda%2F2020%2F08%2Fshark-conservation-drones-artificial-intelligence%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=223fc1c4%3A1596143124634&width=550px

Information on shark movements is also fed into a database that allows marine scientists to more fully understand shark habits and movements and predict when shark activity is likely to occur, which helps conservation efforts. The shark database could also help marine scientists understand the impact of climate change on marine environments and the resulting effect on shark habits.

Caught on camera

What is the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact summit?

It’s an annual meeting featuring top examples of public-private cooperation and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies being used to develop the sustainable development agenda.

It runs alongside the United Nations General Assembly, which this year features a one-day climate summit. This is timely given rising public fears – and citizen action – over weather conditions, pollution, ocean health and dwindling wildlife. It also reflects the understanding of the growing business case for action.

The UN’s Strategic Development Goals and the Paris Agreement provide the architecture for resolving many of these challenges. But to achieve this, we need to change the patterns of production, operation and consumption.

The World Economic Forum’s work is key, with the summit offering the opportunity to debate, discuss and engage on these issues at a global policy level.

Drones are also part of a high-tech package being used by researchers from the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach. They’re conducting a two-year study analysing sharks’ behaviour and looking at aggression levels in different species.

Once a drone flight spots a shark while patrolling southern California’s beaches, the operator relays the position to colleagues who arrive by boat. They then attach a transmitter to the animal’s dorsal area, which tracks its real-time position in the ocean.

How UpLink is helping to find innovations to solve challenges like this

UpLink is a digital platform to crowdsource innovations in an effort to address the world’s most pressing challenges.

It is an open platform designed to engage anyone who wants to offer a contribution for the global public good. The core objective is to link up the best innovators to networks of decision-makers, who can implement the change needed for the next decade. As a global platform, UpLink serves to aggregate and guide ideas and impactful activities, and make connections to scale-up impact.https://www.weforum.org/videos/uplink

Hosted by the World Economic Forum, UpLink is being designed and developed in collaboration with Salesforce, Deloitte and LinkedIn.

UpLink is now running the COVID Challenge, which aims to surface the best solutions and responses to COVID-19.

“The goal is to better understand shark biology and behaviour and to not just give that information to lifeguards who have to make public safety decisions, but to the public who have to decide where that risk is and when is it most appropriate to exercise caution versus when they don’t need to,” Shark Lab’s Director Chris Lowe told Reuters.

Where shark attacks are most common.
Where shark attacks are most common. Image: Statista

Unprovoked shark attacks are rare, but every year some surfers, beachgoers and other ocean users are injured or killed by sharks. Countries with long, often tropical, coastlines and islands have seen the most attacks in the past 300 years. In that time, almost 1,500 unprovoked attacks were recorded in the US, more than double Australia’s tally of 652.

Technologies like AI and drones can help researchers gain a better understanding of when, where and why such attacks take place and find ways to avoid them in future. This type of cooperation between tech companies and researchers helps build a more sustainable future that contributes to keeping people safe, while at the same time helping shark populations recover.

The role of technology in assisting more sustainable development will be a focus of the World Economic Forum’s upcoming Sustainable Development Impact Summit.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Czech PM should resolve his conflict of interest as a matter of urgency say MEPs

Saudi Arabia: UN experts push for prompt release of women human rights defenders

India’s future as a world power depends on 4 key relationships

FROM THE FIELD: A mountain of indigenous knowledge in Peru

Coronavirus: European Commission calls for action in protecting seasonal workers

CEOs say these 4 factors will shape business in 2020

‘A trusted voice’ for social justice: Guterres celebrates 100 years of the International Labour Organization

Children are so hungry in one British town they are eating from bins

More ambition needed for EU recovery instruments, says majority of MEPs

Hospitals among seven health centres attacked in Syria’s north-east

Why are Black people in the UK more at risk from COVID-19?

To build a circular economy, we need to put recycling in the bin

Calculators didn’t replace mathematicians, and AI won’t replace humans

World’s human rights watchdog spotlights Afghanistan, Yemen and 12 others: Here’s the scoop

Why good cybersecurity in business is everyone’s responsibility

UN experts decry torture of Rakhine men and boys held incommunicado by Myanmar’s military

Women and girls in science – from aspiration to reality

These cities score an ‘A’ for environmental action – but hundreds more are falling behind

Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’ could save lives and cut pollution, says report

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Microplastics have spread right to the sea bed, study finds

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

10 ways regulators need to change in 2020

How to build healthy cities and communities in the post-COVID world

Siemens-Alstom merger: Will the EC succumb to Franco-German pressures for the sake of May’s EU Elections?

On the detention of children in the United States of America

Cohesion Policy: involving citizens to ensure better results

Don’t dismiss start-ups founded by millennials. This is how they succeed

Adjust UN force in Abyei to current realities, peacekeeping chief urges Security Council

These islands are using tourists to help offset the effects of tourism

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

‘No other possibility but to leave’: UN News special report from the Nigeria-Cameroon border as 35,000 newly-displaced seek safety

Central American migrants must be protected, urge UN experts

This 12-year-old built an underwater robot to fight plastic pollution

How to make sure tech doesn’t leave people behind

Agreement reached on screening of foreign direct investment for EU security

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is driving Globalization 4.0

The Junior Enterprise concept, one of the best ways to develop practical skills

The COP22 is under full deployment while Donald Trump threatens openly to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement

Colombia: ‘Significant strides’ towards integrated peace, UN envoy tells Security Council

11 lessons the history of business can teach us about its future

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: sexual violence in conflict, a malaria vaccine trial, updates on Libya, Ebola in DR Congo, Sri Lanka and Mali

Why philanthropy for – and by – Africans is the future

Environment Committee MEPs push for cleaner trucks and electric buses

Yanis Varoufakis: “Unsustainable debt turns the creditor into Leviathan; Life under it is becoming nasty, brutish and short”

Cape Town almost ran out of water. Here’s how it averted the crisis

Here’s how one business leader is tackling injustice: It starts with personal commitment

Three reasons to be optimistic for the future of Asia

UN chief welcomes announcement by Emir of Qatar to allocate $50 million to support Syrian refugees, displaced persons

Refugee crisis update: EU fails to relocate immigrants from Greece and Italy

African economies sustain progress in domestic resource mobilisation

Tech must embrace teamwork to transform the world

Here’s how to achieve an optimal student/tutor ratio

‘Continuing deterioration’ leaves Mali facing critical security level: UN expert

Fighting Depression In the Isolation of COVID-19

The Amazon is burning and we’re all watching

These 4 leaders are working to improve integration in Southeast Asia

Are you breathing plastic air at home? Here’s how microplastics are polluting our lungs

10 ways COVID-19 could reshape offices

Mental health during COVID-19 outbreak: who takes care of health professionals?

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s