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Climate change is killing coral — can AI help protect the reefs?

An image of a 3D map of part of a reef.
The Coral Restoration Foundation digitally stitched images of a reef together to create this 3D photomosaic. | Image: CRF

Time is running out to save the world’s coral reefs, so conservationists are turning to every tool they can to protect vanishing reefs — including AI.

In Florida, the race is on to restore reefs by “planting” corals raised by humans. It’s an upward battle as rising ocean temperatures stress already struggling reefs. Tracking the progress is essential but tedious work.

In the past, coral conservationists would have had to physically swim out to reefs to take notes on individual corals they’d planted using a pencil and waxy, waterproof paper. “It can’t scale with the scale of your restoration effort. And eventually, you’ll spend more time monitoring coral restoration than you will actually doing coral restoration,” says Alexander…

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