High-tech and smart thinking combined at the most recent edition of The Ocean Race Summits with exciting and innovative projects such as MINIONs, DEEPi, LILLI and Robots4Whales taking their place in the spotlight.
A total of 10 cutting-edge Blue Tech initiatives – all offering solutions to the varied challenges facing the ocean – were showcased at the Summit hosted from Newport, Rhode Island, one of the most historic centres of the maritime world as well as a stopover port for The Ocean Race 2022-23.
Mirroring the mindset of The Ocean Race itself – which embodies teamwork, tenacity, ingenuity and belief – the third of five Sessions at the interactive virtual Summit held on 16th of September swung the focus on to real world technological projects designed to restore ocean health.
The catchily named MINIONs – MINIature IsOpycNal floats – for example are remote sensors dropped deep into the ‘twilight zone’ to measure temperatures and oxygen content, key to understanding how carbon moves and changes in the ocean.
Meanwhile the robust DEEPi miniature deep water cameras are opening up the ocean depths as never before, and LILLI – the Large Interactive Laser Light-field Installation – is presenting data and imagery to a wide audience as a highly entertaining, informative and even emotional experience.
Other featured innovations were the SPi Cam, providing autonomous Sediment Profile imaging of the ocean floor, while both the Laser Based Sensors and the Unmanned Surface Vehicles & Ice Cameras projects play vital roles in measuring greenhouse gasses.
Also sharing the limelight were the Regenerative Ocean Farming initiative – “hands down the most sustainable form of food production on the planet” says Greenwave Co-founder Bren Smith – and the Marine Trash Skimmer project focused on litter removal.
The most urgent element of the Session, however, focused on the plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale, native to the waters off Newport and ‘slipping towards extinction’ the Summit heard.
Addressing the issue head-on the Robots4Whales project provides real-time alerts to warn shipping of the presence of Right Whales as well as other species, while the Ropeless/Buoyless fishing gear initiative aims to replace fish trap recovery lines with remote rope-free retrieval systems.
“Right Whales don’t usually die of natural causes,” Dr Mark Baumgartner, Senior Scientist in the Biology Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told the Summit. “They don’t die of old age, they die because ships strike them or fishing gear entangles them – it is an urgent problem that is begging for a solid solution,” added Dr Baumgartner, who went on to outline a strategy to attract investment to the crucial Blue Tech innovation.
Further details of all the Blue Tech initiatives can be viewed here.