START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Underwater Robots to Repair Coral Reefs

Underwater Robots to Repair Coral Reefs

By Megan Treacy, TreeHugger

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland are developing underwater microrobots that could be sent in swarms to save coral reefs. The so-called coralbots would be programmed to piece together coral that have been damaged by bottom-trawling fishing or hurricanes, allowing them to regrow.

The university says, “The deep waters west of Scotland are characterized by the occurrence of large reef-forming corals similar to those in the tropics. Scottish reefs provide homes to thousands of other animals including fish and sharks, and are crucial to supplying coral propagules all the way to the Arctic. But Scottish corals are threatened by adverse impacts of bottom fishing that damages and kills large areas of reef. Luckily, this species can sometimes survive this damage and re-grow, but this can take many decades to centuries.”

Before this project, scuba divers would take on the task of visiting areas of damaged coral and re-cementing broken fragments back to the reef, but that type of work takes time and scuba divers can only stay underwater for so long. Robots, on the other hand, have no limit to the time they can be underwater and they can also reach greater depths where some types of coral grow.

The robots will be programmed to follow a simple sets of rules where they collect coral fragments and then re-cement them to the reef. They’ll be a driven by a computer trained to recognize coral fragments compared to rocks, sponges or other sea creatures.

To more efficiently rescue the coral, the small robots will work in swarms — each programmed with a very simple task, but as a group they’ll tackle a more complex operation. This not only makes the work faster, but it also eliminates the need to develop a more robust large robot to complete the job, which is time- and cost-efficient on the engineering side.

Dr. Lea-Anne Henry, from the School of Life Sciences, who is leading the project, said, “Swarms of robots could be instantaneously deployed after a hurricane or in a deep area known to be impacted by trawling, and rebuild the reef in days to weeks, instead of years to centuries.”

 

 

Related:
Protect the World’s Coral Reefs
Electric Reefs Help Save Bali’s Marine Life
10 Surprising Ways to Restore Our Oceans

Read more: Do Good, Environment, Green, Nature, Nature & Wildlife, News & Issues, Technology, , , , , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

43 comments

+ add your own
10:03PM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

Thanks.

2:20PM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

Thanks for sharing

7:13AM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

ty

8:54AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

Cool, thanks

8:33AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

We need and should use all the resources we have to save nature.

9:55AM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

wonderful

10:46AM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

Great!!Thanks for sharing!

2:05PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Good to see technology doing some good for the enviroment!

1:28PM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

The deep blue planet ( sea) is absolutely exotic and breath-taking. Thanks for the efforts of all those who devote time and other resources for such a daunting endeavour. In my next life, I'll be a marine biologist and deep sea diver.

5:44PM PDT on Sep 3, 2012

great ! Hope we get to watch !

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Nope. A few minutes outside does not offer enough vitamin D3. Most people need a supplement to h…

Pretty darn cute! Thanks so much for sharing.

Good tried and tested tips!

I COULDN'T BE WITHOUT MY BABIES! SCARLETT & HER SISTER BONNIE JEAN ARE RESCUE SISTERS. THEY AR…

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.