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The University of Southampton

Marine robots search for evidence of coral regeneration

Published: 13 September 2019
Underwater coral in a spot light
Healthy cold water coral colonies in the 'Darwin Mounds' Marine Protected Area

A research expedition led by the University of Southampton and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) will deploy a new 3D imaging system to assess the regrowth of a Scottish coral reef.

The marine survey, led by Principal Investigator Dr Blair Thornton from the School of Engineering, will compare findings at the Darwin Mounds reef area with investigations of the site from 2000 and 2011.

The research team is seeking to use NOC’s Autosub6000 robot-sub to create a 100-hectare 3D map of the coral reefs in 24 hours, which will be a record if trials are successful. Scientists will apply machine learning algorithms to automatically interpret the data and help identify broader-scale spatial patterns.

The surveys are being conducted as part of the Climate Linked Atlantic Sector Science (CLASS) programme and will help inform the use of Marine Protected Areas, which were recently given an extra £7 million by the UK government. 

Read the full story on the University of Southampton main news pages.

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