Can you find me? (Streetview on the Great Barrier Reef) – Smarter Every Day 114

Hey it’s me Destin, welcome back to Smarter Every Day. So one of the coolest things to me about Google streetview is the ability to explore a far off city and gather data without ever leaving the comfort of my own home. For example look at this one particular street in Amsterdam. There are two ducks sitting in the canal and there are three bicycles on this one particular corner. This point in time is captured and I can acquire that data just by exploring on the computer. So what if we were able to use this data for scientific purposes, for something more interesting, like the Great Barrier Reef. How could we use that data to analyze the lifespan of coral? (Destin) Good Morning. Hello I recognized you. (Destin) I’m Destin. I’m Richard. (Destin) So this is all your gear? Well some of it, yeah. – So you got this and this? – Yes – I thought this this was a long torpedo. OK there it is right there isn’t it. So where are you from Richard? – So yeah, England. – England? And you’re from? – Beautiful France. – France? You guys aren’t allowed to work together are you. – Ah no but you need the token Frenchman on the team if it’s an underwater project. – Have you ever met a guy from Alabama Christof? – No you’re the first one. What happens when you meet someone from Alabama? – Well you become best friends instantly, and usually you’re very intimidated because of how smart they are. An insurance company named Catlin decided to fund a world wide effort to scientifically document the decline of coral reefs. This of course requires a very special underwater device that you can see us assembling here. To be clear, I didn’t get paid to do this. I just read an article about what they were doing and I thought it was awesome, so I reached out and asked if I could tag along. They agreed so on this particular dive we’re about to go underwater with the team and see exactly how they’re surveying the Great Barrier Reef. [ music] OK so here’s the deal. With Google street view you can drive and there’s all these cameras on top of a car. It’s a little bit hard to do down here at the coral reef, right? So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna use this sea survey 2, SV2, we’re gonna drive down along the coral reef. So you can see Christof drives around here, he’s got this 360 degree field of view with the cameras. The idea is to take still shots and combine those still shots together in a panoramic view as he goes across the reef. Now you might ask why does he have to do this instead of driving a sonar bouy behind a boat or something like that. Well the idea is that these reefs are so delicate you have to get close to it, you have to skim over the top. Having Christof here do this makes sense because he’s able to go very close without disturbing the environment. Is that right? Is that pretty much it? Excellent. By the way, Christof can hear me because I’m using an ultrasonic transmitter and a microphone if you can see it here. So basically what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna go straight forward in what about two kilometers? So you’re gonna go out and back, you’re gonna survey all along the way and then you’re gonna come back here and we’re gonna get that data right? And the idea is to get a baseline for the amount of aquatic life that is alive here on the coral reef. You ready? Go for it. [ music] [ sped up electric motor noise ] And you’re back. How long did you survey, about two kilometers or what? 1100 kilometers? One and a half kilometers? So there you go, Christof just surveyed one and a half kilometers of coral reef in the amount of time it took me to get this information off camera. That was awesome. OK here’s the deal. If we do nothing else from this point on then this is nothing more than a big PR stunt right? But we are scientists. We want to actually look at our data. If you go to the you can see that Catlin has entered all the data into a global database. There’s several different ways to view the data. The first one is the equirectangular view. Now this is an image captured at each individual snap along the dive. It’s a really awesome way to view the dive however you can’t really quantify it in terms of science. So the second view is called the quadrat view. Let me explain what that means. So let’s pretend for just a second I don’t want to monitor the health of the entire coral reef, just this particular row of corn in my garden. Now one option would be to go through and count each individual corn plant and each individual weed but look at this, that would take forever. So what’s a smart way that scientists can quantify the health of an area without wasting all their time? For years scientists have used a standard reference frame called a quadrat. They lay it down in the ecosystem and then they quantify the species in that particular reference frame. They can then extrapolate that and get a good idea of the overall health of the ecosystem. The problem with Catlin sea survey is there’s so much data created that humans can’t even quantify the quadrats, so Dr David Klein at the University of California San Diego has been developing an autonomous software called coralnet that’s gonna do this for us. I’ll let him show you how it works. Basically it works like the automated facial recognition technology that’s on Facebook. As you tag enough photos of your friend space and images it can start automatically recognizing your friend. Well when we start tagging corals in coralnet eventually the computer can start recognizing that coral and naming it in all the other images. When we upload the image the first thing it does is it randomly puts a hundred points on that image and then after I label what’s underneath each of those 100 points it gives you the idea of percent coverage, so what percentage of this particular part of the reef is living coral, what percentage is algae, and what percentage is sand or dead coral. And that gives us an indication of how healthy the reef is. In the Catlin seaview survey in one dive they can cover two kilometers of reef and generate thousands of photos, so one dive can represent months to several months of work for me to figure out what organisms are in those images. When we get the computer really well trained what took me months it can probably do in a matter of minutes. So that quadrat is the scientist’s tool to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef. This can tell us if the Great Barrier Reef is thriving or as we’ve seen in the last few decades, declining. Dr Klein told me one more thing that I believe to be true. He said unless people can see and experience the beauty of the coral reefs they are not going to care about it. Having been there myself I believe this to be true, so here’s what I’d like to do. While we were doing the dive I asked the surveyors if I could hide behind the Great Barrier Reef along the survey path in hopes of convincing you to go try to find Destin in the 360 degree panoramic views on the Great Barrier Reef. Now if you’re interested in this you’ll have to click this link or the link in the video description and actually explore a little bit. You might have to go to different panoramas. So go try to find me and if you do, reach out to me and Catlin sea survey on social media, It could be Google+, Facebook, Twitter. Let us know that you found me, and more importantly what you thought about the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. I’m Destin, thank you so much for doing this with me. You’re getting Smarter Every Day, have a good one. By the way, this is the first video in the Smarter Every Day Australia series, which is amazing. So click Australia around my fat head to subscribe, or check out any of these videos to see if I’ve uploaded them yet. They’re amazing, especially that one. It’s so funny, I’ve never had to gather my thoughts underwater, this is hilarious. So I’m in my garden wearing scuba gear and my neighbor’s walking up to the fence. [ laughs ] How do I explain this? Yeah I’m not operating that. [ laughs ] It’s not a good idea to have me operate that. – Find you in New Zealand. [ laugh ] – That’s right.

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