Help researchers safeguard the Koster Sea
Do you want to learn more about life in the sea, and also help researchers at the University of Gothenburg? At the new website Koster Seafloor Observatory the public can assist scientists by watching snapshots of deep-water recordings and identify species in short movies.
– We need help from the public to understand how climate change and human activities affects the animals in the sea, says Matthias Obst, researcher at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg.
Kosterhavet National Park is located in the sea outside Strömstad. For the last 20 years, the University of Gothenburg have used underwater vehicles and cameras to film the ocean seafloor, recorded in over 3,000 hours of underwater videos. These videos are now published on the website Koster Seafloor Observatory.
Videos with unseen underwater environments
The short movies document an environment that is otherwise invisible to the public, with dead whales, flying feather stars, swimming scallops, large sponges and starfish. Also visible is dead organic material slowly falling to the ocean floor like a quiet snow fall – a phenomenon that is called “marine snow”.
– In the Koster National Park we also have one of Sweden’s last reefs of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa, says Matthias Obst, researcher at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg.
Help to identify species
The Koster Seafloor Observatory is a so-called citizen science project, where researchers ask the public for help in their research. By identifying species in the short movies, the public can help researchers with important information on how the fauna on the sea floor has changed in response to warmer waters, fishing activities, and changes in environmental protection.
The identifications made by the visitors also help train artificial intelligence algorithms, which later automatically and in real-time can recognize key ecological species from the seafloor imagery, such as corals. This way, researchers will be able to monitor species and protected environments in the future with the help of underwater vehicles.
Protect environments in the sea,
– Anyone can look at the videos on the website, watch animals in their natural habitat, ask experts for advice, or participate in discussions. It’s a lot of film material, and we really need help from the public so we can learn how to best protect our wonderful environments in the sea, says Matthias Obst.
Text: Annika Wall
The Koster Seafloor Observatory is a part of the Vinnova project Ocean Data Factory and Swedish Biodiversity Data Infrastructure funded by the Swedish Research Council.
Link to the Koster Seafloor Observatory: