New AI Method Counts Manatee Clusters in Real Time


Manatees are endangered species volatile to the environment.  

Manatees are endangered species volatile to the environment.  Because of their voracious appetites, they often spend up to eight hours a day grazing for food within shallow waters, making them vulnerable to environmental changes and other risks.

Accurately counting manatee aggregations within a region is not only biologically meaningful in observing their habit, but also crucial for designing safety rules for boaters and divers as well as scheduling nursing, intervention, and other plans. Nevertheless, counting manatees is challenging.

Because manatees tend to live in herds, they often block each other when viewed from the surface. As a result, small manatees are likely to be partially or completely blocked from view. In addition, water reflections tend to make manatees invisible, and they also can be mistaken for other objects such as rocks and branches.

While aerial survey data are used in some regions to count manatees, this method is time-consuming and costly, and the accuracy depends on factors such as observer bias, weather conditions and time of day. Moreover, it is crucial to have a low-cost method that provides a real-time count to alert ecologists of threats early to enable them to act proactively to protect manatees.

Read more at Florida Atlantic University

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