How AI is Saving Sea Turtles?

How AI is Saving Sea Turtles?

AI technologies are being used in different areas like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, teaching, security, etc. However, the use of artificial intelligence is not just confined to some businesses and industries. Artificial Intelligence is also being used for saving the environment, and saving sea turtles as well.

There are different ways to help the environment, and the use of AI software for saving sea turtles is one such way to use AI for conservation.

The use of AI technologies has helped in protecting and saving sea turtles eggs from the feral pigs in North Queensland in Australia.

Feral pigs are predators for turtle eggs

  • The Western Cape York Peninsula is located at the northern tip of the Australian mainland.
  • Sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the beaches in Queensland’s western Cape York.
  • After the green, flatback turtles have laid their eggs in the nest, they are rapidly eaten by feral pigs who feast on the eggs.
  • Along with feral pigs, there are Goannas and Dingoes as well, but they feed on the turtle eggs to a relatively lesser extent compared to feral pigs.
  • Feral pigs have the power to smell the eggs, dig the nests, and just eat the eggs.
  • Even if they don’t eat all the eggs, they tend to feed on the viable ones.
  • The endangered species of turtles faced a huge risk of extinction, and this called for the use of AI technologies for saving sea turtles.

Aboriginal rangers – Making great efforts for saving sea turtles

  • Since 2015, the team of Aboriginal rangers have been trying to save the environment by preventing the destruction caused by feral pigs.
  • The indigenous rangers made use of a green mesh and placed it over the nests.
  • The rangers also laid feral pig baits and performed aerial monitoring and surveillance of the entire area using a helicopter. 
  • However, this process was quite tedious and a time-consuming one as well.
  • Later, the rangers teamed with the scientists at CSIRO to save sea turtles.

Saving sea turtles through the use of AI software

  • The indigenous rangers and CSIRO scientists are closely monitoring the nesting sites of turtles and keeping the feral pig population in the area under check.
  • Their monitoring and management efforts in saving the environment has proved to be successful in saving sea turtles by lowering the nest predation to as low as 30 percent.
  • By using an AI software that has been developed, the rangers can easily analyze thousands of aerial images of the beach to identify the places on the beach where turtle nests and their predators are located.
  • The use of AI for conservation can be applied to other projects as well for saving the environment.

APN Cape York (Aak Puul Ngantam) and CSIRO take help from Microsoft

  • APN Cape York is an organization working for the welfare of Aurukun community. One of their goals is saving sea turtles nests from the ferocious feral pigs.
  • In order to improve their efforts of saving sea turtles, both APN Cape York and CSIRO approached Microsoft to check if AI technologies could be used to identify sea turtle nests and predation by feral pigs.
  • Microsoft has helped develop an AI software using which automated analysis of the images taken by drones and helicopters is possible.
  • Analyzing the images through an AI software reduces the time drastically. A computer is able to give the results in just under two hours, something that would take several hours if done manually.
  • The AI software has the potential to analyze thousands of images by specifically knowing that it is pig tracks, turtle nests, turtle tracks, land, water, etc.
  • The more images the AI software is trained with, the better results it will generate.

Rangers are out there saving sea turtles

The use of AI technologies has reduced and saved precious and valuable time for rangers which otherwise they would spend in monitoring and analyzing the images.

The team of indigenous rangers are out there doing what they should actually be doing – saving sea turtles, protecting turtle nests, and controlling the feral pig numbers.

AI for Earth – An initiative by Microsoft

Microsoft has come up with an initiative ‘AI for Earth’ to solve the various environmental challenges. ‘AI for Earth’ supports those organizations who are planning to come up with ways to help the environment using artificial intelligence.