How Big Data Saves Marine Ecosystems
Blue Serengeti is a hotspot just off the coast of Northern California where marine predators migrate as they do in Africa. Like fresh grasses in the African region, this Pacific Ocean region offers a seasonal source of food as the spring breeze creates deeper and deeper water-rich seas rich in marine nutrients.
In the summer, the leatherback arrives from Indonesia, the shearwater from New Zealand, the bluefin tuna from Japan, and the sharks from the spiral subtropics – for feeding. According to Barbara Block, marine biologist from Stanford University, this place becomes the hottest eating place in the North Pacific Region.
The scientists owe the invention of the Blue Serengeti to the data collected from the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) project, as part of the 10th Annual Marine Life Census.
The project marks more than 5,000 marine animals in 23 species, with the help of more than 80 scientists in five countries. By marking everything together, scientists can reveal the seasonal activities of the animals.
The ability to conduct censuses and track life in the ocean is very important to answer some basic questions about underwater life, such as, how many marine animals are down there? Where are they live? And what happens to marine ecosystems when large predators like bluefin tuna and sharks are overfished?
Marine scientists may be 30 to 50 years behind their counterparts on the ground. And since the creation of mobile chips in the last 20 years they can catch up. The same technology that exists in more than one billion smartphones on land is now used as a marker on marine animals to collect ocean data such as depth, temperature, and light.
Collecting and managing data is not an easy task. While the tag on the fin on the shark’s back can send radio signals to satellites orbiting the earth, different things happen to animals that breathe through gills in the deep ocean like bluefin tuna. The radio waves did not go well through the water, so the scientists developed a tag that measured light, and used the sunrise and sunset to calculate the distance from Greenwich Meridian.
Researchers should integrate data from 7 different tag types, each with unique data streams in slightly different languages. They also combine data from satellite tags with acoustic data collected from smart buoys and robotic glider waves that listen to the marked animals swimming nearby.
Scientists must also find ways to present the data in an attractive visual appearance, such as maps showing the migration routes and hot spots where animals gather. Expenses for big data technologies and services to meet similar needs reach nearly $ 20 billion by 2016, according to International Data Corp. (IDC).
Another common business problem facing scientists is how to make their data accessible on mobile devices to increase public awareness of their findings. For starters, scientists created a free Shark Net app that can track the activity of 25 different White Sharks.
The Barbara Block project and the next scientists are using big data to create “sea connections” that allow the protection of sharks, tuna, and other marine animals in real-time. The project is expected to combine live streaming data from satellites and acoustic tags to create networks that provide instant data from the locations of these animals.
The first step: launching five buoys around the Blue Serengeti in the fall that will monitor the presence of sharks. Later, these data will be used to attempt to convert the area into a protected World Heritage Site, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The need for long-term oversight in the oceans is urgent, not only to save the Blue Serengeti, but also to long-term fisheries management. For example, marine scientists need to see what happens to the Gulf of Maine in North America, where fish stocks are so depleted that the advisory board limits cod fishing by 77 percent.
Historically, the number of fish comes from human catch records. The goal in the future is to use predictive data technology to estimate where fish actually congregate to create more dynamic fisheries management.
Monitoring changes in marine ecosystems can also help manage climate change. The human ability to inhale oxygen comes from the ocean, which holds CO2 from the atmosphere. But increasing carbon emissions make the ocean acidity soaring. Several of the same sensors used to track marine animals can also be used to collect data for ocean warming models, such as sea temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels.
The ways that scientists have done in America above should also be applied in Indonesia. With more than 17 thousand islands and 96 thousand sq km of sea area, there are many potentials that can be utilized and researched in Indonesia. Starting from biodiversity, marine ecosystems, salinity, to researching the number of underwater biota is threatened or has the potential to improve the Indonesian economy.
The problem that often faced is how to find big data analytic that can facilitate research institute in Indonesia to process data about the sea. But now, the problem can be solved with Paques. Paques is one of the pioneers of big data analytics products in Indonesia that are competent and qualified. By having self-service feature so that marine researchers in Indonesia will be able to operate it easily. The affordable price of Paques also helps non-profit organizations not hesitate to adopt big data technology just because of the expensive price.
The sea, especially in Indonesia, has a wonderfully bright prospect if it is well managed, and big data can help scientists to bring up insights that have been closed so as to provide solutions from a variety of problems that have come from the sea, conservation to climate change.