Using AI and Underwater Microphones, Scientists Are Now Using Sound To Identify and Protect Sea Life
In 2023, a team of marine scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa, India, used ai and underwater microphones to record the sounds of a coral reef. It may not seem intuitive to us, creatures that have evolved on land, but marine organisms make a wide variety of sounds as they live their lives underwater. The study found that scientists could use sounds and an ai powered database to identify different species in the water.
Whales are commonly known to make a variety of sounds, including clicks, whistles, and songs. These sounds are used for communication, navigation, and echolocation and have long been studied. Some of their communications are very complex and border on language. Whale songs are not simply random noises; they have a clear structure and pattern. This suggests that whale songs are not simply instinctual or emotional expressions, but that they may be used to communicate specific information.
But there are more underwater sounds than just whales. The scientists recorded the sounds of a variety of fish species using ai and underwater microphones, including surgeonfish, parrotfish, and wrasses. These fish make a variety of sounds, including grunts, clicks, and whistles. The sounds that these fish make vary depending on the species. For example, surgeonfish typically make grunts, while parrotfish and wrasses may make clicks, whistles, or rasps.
These fish make sounds to communicate with each other; they may grunt to warn each other of danger or to attract mates. They may also make sounds to navigate their environment such as clicks to echolocate to determine the distance and direction of objects by bouncing sound waves off them. They may also make sounds to attract mates; male wrasses may make whistles to attract females. On the opposite side of the spectrum, fish may also make sounds when they are stressed or scared.
The scientists also recorded the sounds of the coral of reefs using ai and underwater microphones. Again, it may seem far fetched to us humans, but coral reefs make a variety of sounds, including popping, clicking, and grinding. These sounds are caused by the movement of water and the growth of the coral and can be used to predict the health of the ecosystem.
The scientists also recorded the sounds of a variety of invertebrates, including crabs, shrimp, and snails with ai and underwater microphones. Crabs make clicks to warn each other of danger and when they are mating. Shrimp make chirps to attract mates and when they are defending themselves from predators. Snails make rasping sounds to deter predators and when they are moving.
After recording the sounds, they then plugged them into an algorithm trained on a dataset of sound recordings of known marine life species. The algorithm was able to identify the species that were present on the reef based on their sounds.
This was a major scientific breakthrough showing that ai and underwater microphones can be used to identify marine life species from their sounds. This could have a number of benefits, including:
- Tracking the movement of marine life: AI could be used to track the movement of marine life species by identifying their sounds. This could be used to understand how marine life populations are changing over time and to identify areas where marine life is under threat.
- Identifying areas of high biodiversity: AI could identify areas of high biodiversity by identifying the sounds of different marine life species. This could be used to prioritize conservation efforts and to protect important marine ecosystems.
- Monitoring the health of marine ecosystems: AI could be used to monitor the health of marine ecosystems by identifying the sounds of different marine life species. This could be used to track the effects of climate change and other environmental stressors on marine ecosystems.
Using ai and underwater microphones to monitor sea life and water conditions is potentially a game changer due to lower costs. Traditional methods of monitoring sea life, such as visual surveys and tagging using divers can be labor-intensive. This is because they require scientists and technicians to spend a lot of time in the field, often in remote locations. Ai and underwater microphone monitoring systems could potentially reduce labor costs by automating the data collection process.
Traditional methods of monitoring sea life often require specialized equipment, such as cameras, tags, and even underwater vehicles. AI-powered underwater sound monitoring systems on the other hand, can reduce hardware costs by using less specialized equipment.
Data processing costs would also be reduced. This is because the data collected from visual surveys and tags must be manually analyzed. AI and underwater microphones and monitoring systems could potentially reduce data processing costs by using AI to automate the data analysis process.
There are many other potential benefits of using ai and underwater microphones to identify marine life species from their sounds, one that I personally find very promising is protecting whales from being struck by ships. Ai could be used to develop collision avoidance systems for ships. These systems would use ai and underwater microphones to identify marine mammals in the area and to predict the movement of the ship and the whales based on existing data. The system would then generate a warning to the ship’s captain and recommend a course of action, such as speed reduction or changing course to avoid a collision.
The use of AI to identify marine life species from their sounds is a rapidly developing field. As AI technology continues to improve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications of it in sustainability in the future.