Innovation That Matters

Seagrass meadows are among the most efficient natural carbon sinks on earth | Photo source Benjamin L. Jones on Unsplash

Airborne laser technology helps conservationists map seagrass meadows


Enhanced data capture improves the accuracy of monitoring and restoration efforts

Spotted: A partnership between marine environment non-profit Beneath The Waves and digital data experts Hexagon AB is helping to preserve an essential blue carbon ecosystem. The Caribbean seagrass meadows are home to myriad animals and plants, including tiger sharks. The Beneath The Waves team started mapping the meadows in order to monitor year-on-year changes, and better understand the role they play in the overall health of the oceans.

Working with Hexagon AB allows researchers to swiftly and accurately map thousands of square kilometres of underwater habitats. Using airborne underwater mapping technology called bathymetric LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), the collaboration is gathering highly detailed datasets up to 30 metres in depth. The new mapping exercises take days to complete rather than the weeks and months required for previous methods.

By increasing the efficiency and accuracy of mapping and data gathering, conservationists can more easily detect small changes in plant and animal health and other ecological markers. Easier detection means earlier detection, and this can strengthen long-term preservation and restoration efforts.

From mussels that filter micro plastics from ocean water, to robot submarines, the number of ocean-focused innovations Springwise is spotting speaks to the importance of, and urgent need to care for, the blue economy. 

Written by: Keely Khoury



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