The IoT Helps Conservation Efforts in Great Barrier Reef

By Nicole Garbarino and Joyce Deuley

Marine biologists have become worried over the last year or so because crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) are killing coral in the Great Barrier Reef. In order to save the coral, they have come up with a plan using the Internet of Things to kill some of the COTS. This solution it the Cotsbot robot, and it is designed to find the starfish in order to administer a lethal injection.

As of now this robot has not actually been in the Great Barrier Reef, however, it has been practicing in Moreton Bay so that researchers could make sure its navigation skills are accurate. Once the robot is perfected they will bring it out to the reef to observe how well the detection feature does on the COTS. At first researchers will control the robot themselves, however, as time goes on they plan to increase the level of autonomy until the entire process works entirely on its own. From detecting the starfish to injecting them, the robot will be able to do all of this on its own. The starfish numbers may be growing right now, but with the help of Cotsbot robot these levels should be kept under control, allowing the coral in the Great Barrier Reef a much better chance at survival. 

While the rehabilitation of the Great Barrier Reef is of monumental importance for Australia’s coastal health overall, some could become concerned on the methods in which these scientists are using to eradicating the COTS. The entire sentiment smacks of a potential robot apocalypse, so we must remember that when using such technologies we tread carefully.

Yet despite potential apocalyptic concerns regarding our future robot overlords, utilizing the IoT to solve this problem allows divers to not have to take the time and resources to remove the starfish themselves—which can be costly and dangerous. Through the Cotsbot robot, the COTS population can remain under control without humans disturbing the ecosystem any more than they have to. The IoT has been used to help save endangered species before on land (read more about how IoT has helped save honeybees and rhinos), and now it is here to help save species under the sea.