CoralspeQ Debut at International Coral Reef Symposium

–This is a belated post about presenting CoralspeQ at the International Coral Reef Symposium where I had a chance to ‘show and tell’ the device and PhotosynQ, the scientific platform.

It was a debut for the CoralspeQ at the International Coral Reef Symposium (13th ICRS) held at the Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i, from June 19 to 24.  About 2,500 participants came from all over the world.  It was sponsored by the International Society for Coral Studies.  There were total of 88 sessions plus plenary talks, workshops, Town Hall meetings, and public sessions (http://sgmeet.com/icrs2016/).

13th ICRS imagesThe Symposium appropriately opened with a performance by a group of native Hawai’ians — songs, dance and the story of genesis of their world (the first creature to appear was a coral polyp!).  The meeting started from 8 AM continued to about 9 PM.  It was indeed jam-packed with events.  There were many interesting talks, but because they were in the concurrent sessions, I had to pick and choose what I wanted to see.

My talk of CoralspeQ/PhotosynQ was presented in the session called “Big Data: Using open access, evolving platforms and the emerging field of data science to improve resource management.” (http://sgmeet.com/icrs2016/sessionschedule.asp?SessionID=52).  All the talks were about open access and data sharing with improved technologies including unmanned vehicles (above and under water).  I was the 3rd presenter among 7 people.  At the starting of the session, the room holding about 250 chairs was rather empty, and I was a little disappointed.  Then, when I stood up to the podium, I was shocked to see the audience — three quarters of the seats were full, and there were standing people at the back.  Wow!  It was worth coming here!!

Content of the talk was explaining PhotosynQ, the scientific platform, and the capability of CoralspeQ.  It was a prelude to the talk given by Peter Ralph (our collaborator/ one of the CoralspeQ project initiators) next day.  Peter’s talk was more focused on how to connect the new technology and the park rangers/managers to help the coral reef conservation .  It was presented on the last day of the Symposium.  Usually, many people start leaving, but the room was filled very well, and some people stayed after the session to talk to us.  CoralspeQ is the first scientific instrument available to the coral scientists, that could measure the fluorescence, coral fluorescent protein signals and reflectance all in one.  In addition, all the data are uploaded to the cloud (data are stored in the smart phone until Wi-Fi is available), and we can share the data globally.  I think the importance of open collaboration became a big theme in the coral reef research community, as the society president, Ruth Gates (she is also our collaborator — please see my past blog: http://blog.photosynq.org/2015/12/04/967-2/), emphasized in her presidential address in plenary presentation.

People might be curious about the prediction of the future coral reefs in the world, particularly after seeing some news articles (e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/world/asia/climate-related-death-of-coral-around-world-alarms-scientists.html?smid=go-share&_r=0).  The following graph is a prediction of future coral reefs by the end of the century.

Predicted future of coral reefs

In short, if we continue the current practice of land-use, with no further pollution control, over-fishing & etc., coral reefs would disappear by 2070.  With global warming, they would disappear by 2060.  Even with implementation of local pollution control, we could buy time only for a short time, unless we do something about the global warming. (more details in this article: http://www.kewalo.hawaii.edu/images/faculty/Richmond_papers/Richmond_LO_2014.pdf).

The concluding remark at the Symposium was, “It is not too late. We have to tackle the problem of global warming NOW.  In order to do it, we have to mobilize the citizens.”  One thing the 3/5 of participating scientists did at this Symposium immediately was signing a petition for expanding Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (see here — http://civilbeat.org/2016/07/can-1500-scientists-all-be-wrong/).  If you like to see some of the images, go to this link: http://papahanaumokuakea.gov.

Papahanaumokuakea-2

Currently, we are working on a new version of CoralspeQ, based on the new board for the MultispeQ.  The shape of the device will be more like a tube (a diving torch-style).  We are not going to use the non-metal conduit box, because of the size variations (a few mm can be a big deal).

I will post more details of the development later.

— Atsuko

 

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