Updated: Jul 22, 2020

a. What does Coral Morphologic do?

Coral Morphologic is the leading creator of innovative underwater media chronicling Earth's imperiled coral reefs. Coral Morphologic was founded in 2007 by marine biologist Colin Foord and musician J.D. McKay in Miami as a multi-faceted platform for the development of symbiosis between humans and coral. Coral Morphologic's unique methodology blends science and art in a way that enamors popular culture with the beauty of coral while inspiring the next generation to restore the reefs and protect the planet.

Coral Morphologic’s artwork is informed by a scientific mission to document, aquaculture, and protect Miami’s (and the world’s) coral. They hypothesize that the coral pioneering onto the seawalls of Miami may hold the keys to understanding how reef organisms worldwide will adapt to human influence in the 21st century. Coral Morphologic is currently working with researchers from NOAA and University of Miami to understand how these unusually resilient 'urban corals’ are able to thrive living along the submerged edge of the highway connecting Miami to Miami Beach. Key to this work is the Coral City Camera, an underwater camera streaming from an urban reef ecosystem along PortMiami. By providing the public with remote access to Miami's aquatic life, Coral Morphologic aims to generate environmental awareness of, and civic pride for, the City's remarkable marine biodiversity.

With the skills and lessons learned in Miami from the Coral City Camera, Coral Morphologic aims to help deploy more such livestreaming cameras around the globe as a way to both collect important scientific data, as well as engage the public with life under the sea such that they are more apt to want to protect it. 

b. Where is the underwater observatory located?

The Coral City Camera is located in about 3m of water on the northeastern tip of PortMiami on Dodge Island in Miami, Florida, USA. It's urban coastal location allows direct access from land, in addition to electrical and internet utilities. 

c. How are you feeling about the prototypes 1 and 2?

Prototypes 1 and 2 have shown great promise in being able to identify and quantify the fish species observed on the Coral City Camera. We look forward to seeing how Prototype 3 will be able to expand its capability to include all 100+ species of fish we've documented on Camera. The fact that such sophisticated AI software is being developed by teenagers inspires us with hope that the next generation holds the keys to turning the tide on the decline of coral reef habitats and fisheries worldwide. 

d. What are you planning to use our final prototype for (and it's possible research applications)?

A primary goal for using the BlueCounter software will be to determine if the period of quarantine and social distancing due to Covid19 has contributed to a significant increase in fish abundance observed on the Coral City Camera. Since April 15th 2020, Coral Morphologic has been working with researchers from NOAA (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to record two hours of fish activity every morning from 8:00-9:00 and evening from 19:00-20:00 in order to try and determine any significant changes in fish abundance and activity over time. We hope to continue this recording over the coming year and utilizing BlueCounter's software to be able to more accurately quantify this fish activity.

e. What are your ambitions for our software?

If BlueCounter's AI software proves capable of accurately identifying and quantifying the fish activity around the Coral City Camera, we hope to help expand a network of similar livestreaming underwater cameras to other coral reef locations around Miami, Florida, and further afield in the Caribbean where the biodiversity of these fish species is shared. We would also like to see similar cameras deployed in urban coastal areas such as Singapore, such that a new suite of fish species can be programmed for these areas in the Indo-Pacific region. With the ability to quantify fish abundance on a multi-year level, it will help scientists to better manage the fisheries and study reefs in a manner that will save thousands of human work hours to analyze.  

By Colin Foord

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Ecological monitoring through automation