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New method monitors corals without disturbing them

New method monitors corals without disturbing them


Published: 06.06.2023
Oppdatert: 03.08.2023

Chief researcher Thierry Baussant in NORCE has been working with developing a system for coral monitoring for a long time. The idea has now been awarded commercialization funds of five million from the Norwegian Research Council.

The invention that Baussant has developed is based on a camera technology and methodology for how to monitor the welfare and condition of corals in their natural environment in the sea. The invention has been named the Polyp Activity Monitoring System (PAMS).

Monitors without touching the coral

What is unique about the invention is the system's ability to collect, display and analyze images from the coral polyps using time-lapse image recording to measure their behaviour. The system analyzes each image to create a silhouette of the coral which is used to measure the polyp activities. This allows one to monitor the coral without physically touching it. This is important because many corals are on the red list for endangered species. Today, there are very few similar monitoring tools.

Why is this important?

Knowledge of changes deep in the sea is important for both life in the sea, the climate, and when there is a question about making use of land and resources. The resources in the sea are interesting for various purposes such as the pharmaceutical industry, fisheries and industry that need access to raw materials in the transition to the green shift. The ocean is therefore under greater pressure, and this may have consequences for the marine deep sea ecosystem. It is therefore important to monitor this.

Important tool for decision makers and industry

The new coral monitoring tool can be used as decision support and risk assessment related to industrial activities in deep water. Such a tool is both relevant for authorities who must regulate new areas, but also for industrial players who want to establish new industry at sea where there is vulnerable life.

The project runs over two years and will find out where the market is, and who might be interested in adopting the new technology. The researchers picturee several current stakeholders both within oil and gas, minerals, farming and offshore wind.

The aim is to establish a company, and thereby contribute to new jobs in Rogaland. It is also hoped that the new PAMS tool will contribute to better monitoring of the sea and especially the deep sea. The technology will now be tested further at NORCE's laboratories in Mekjarvik on Randaberg.