CATgeo - Seagrass Meadow Survey and Mapping Case Study

Dr. Kevin Kuciapinski and Dylan Hillard of CAT LLC traveled to Sarasota, FL to perform small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) surveys and mapping of seagrass meadows.  High resolution images were collected using both visible and multispectral infrared sensors. This effort seeks to augment existing methodologies by automating detection and mapping, lowering monitoring costs, and increasing revisit rates for areas of concern.

 

Seagrass provides food and habitat for various species to include manatees, green sea turtles, chinook salmon, and dugongs.  It filters water, produces oxygen, and helps control coastal erosion and is essential for fish nurseries.

 

Seagrass is one of the most significant worldwide natural carbon sinks, being capable of capturing carbon from the atmosphere 30 to 35 times faster than tropical rain forests, making it a critical factor in mitigating climate change.  The U.N recently estimated that seagrasses may perform up to 18% of the ocean’s carbon sequestration. Unfortunately, seagrasses are disappearing at a rate of approximately 7% a year.  Since initial seagrass observations were collected in 1879, 29% of known seagrass ecosystems have disappeared.  The loss of seagrass meadows around Australia alone since the 1950s has caused an increase in CO2 emissions equivalent to 5 million cars a year. Properly managing seagrass ecosystems is critical for ocean health and mitigating climate change.

 

CAT LLC would like to extend special appreciation to Larry and Joe of Reef Innovations LLC for their support and participation in this effort.

 

CAT LLC performs advanced sensor development, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.  We perform data collection and management, operate small Unmanned Aerial Systems s(UAS) using FAA Part 107 certified pilots, and execute data fusion of satellite, airborne, surface, and subsurface sensors.  

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