Ocean Discovery League Newsletter | August 2022

Ahoy hoy!

Lowering the barriers to both deep-sea data collection and analysis are two of the Ocean Discovery League’s core goals for broadening access to the deep ocean. I am thrilled to share with you some of our progress to date. 

First, our first open-access paper on Low-Cost, Deep-Sea Imaging and Analysis Tools for Deep-Sea Exploration: A Collaborative Design Study was published in Frontiers of Marine Science last week. Conducted in partnership with twenty marine professionals worldwide, this study focuses on opportunities and challenges related to low-cost, scalable tools for deep-sea data collection and artificial intelligence-driven data analysis. The results of the study include a set of technical requirements for low-cost deep-sea imaging and sensing systems and automated image and data analysis systems. 

One of the outcomes of this study was the development of the deep-sea, easy-to-use Maka Niu imaging and sensing system, designed in collaboration with the MIT Future Ocean Lab. This system is now being user-tested by thirteen collaborators in nine countries, and we highlight some of our user stories from around the world below. A technical paper on the Maka Niu system is currently in review, and we will share it when published.

Finally, beginning this fall, Dr. Jessica Sandoval will spearhead our sensors & systems development in collaboration with our global partners. We are excited to have Jess on the team to move this important work forward, continuing to break down the barriers to deep-sea exploration and research.

Katy Croff Bell
Founder & President
Ocean Discovery League

About Maka Niu

Maka Niu (“coconut eye”) is a low-cost oceanographic camera and sensor platform that enables the exploration of undersea environments using a new pressure-tolerant camera housing built in conjunction with the MIT Future Ocean Lab, now Oceanic Labs. It was designed based on extensive interviews with scientists, conservationists, and educators worldwide, initially as part of K12 educational workshops with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Maka Niu is a self-contained deep-sea camera system that records at full high definition 1080p @30fps and is depth rated to 1,500 m. It also has depth and temperature sensors and GPS and is intended to have a modular design for future capabilities. Mission programming is done on an easy-to-use web-based interface optimized for mobile use on any device. Data can be uploaded for analysis to Tator, a video annotation platform developed and hosted by our partner, CVision AI.

Field Testing Highlights

Test, test, and then test again. Throughout 2021-2022, several prototype cameras were sent into the field under multiple conditions to troubleshoot the various systems and performance at different depths. Deployment of these test units has ranged from attachment to ROVs or AUVs to manual deployment and recovery. Field testers coordinate with our team for troubleshooting using Slack and WhatsApp.

Testing on E/V Nautilus
In September 2021, Lui Kawasumi took Maka Niu aboard E/V Nautilus and field tested it attached to other deployed vehicles. While attached to a profiler, it took six round trips to 600 m. It also conducted later dives with the AUV Mesobot for further testing.

New England Aquarium Deployment
In May 2022, divers deployed Maka Niu in the Giant Ocean Tank at NEAQ to conduct additional tests on lighting conditions, communication, and data retrieval systems in a contained environment. This was the first time NEAQ had a camera installed in the tank, and the residents seemed to like it! 

Louisiana University Marine Consortium (LUMCON) Lander Testing
In February 2022, our collaborators Craig McClain and Corie Boolukos from LUMCON began testing alternate deployment methods for Maka Niu in the Gulf of Mexico, including the development of a lander prototype.
Indian Ocean Record Depth Deployment
In early July 2022, Sheena Talma deployed Maka Niu on three dives to 900-1400 m in the Indian Ocean attached to the SCAMPI (towed camera) aboard the Marion Dufresne as part of an Ifremer expedition. This set the current official depth record for the camera!
Bermuda Field Testing
Veta Wade of Fish 'N Fins, has been one of our most prolific testers, deploying the Maka Niu in Montserrat and most recently in Bermuda with Tim Noyes at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Their recent deployment, in collaboration with Beneath the Waves and University of Rhode Island, was funded by Darwin Plus Project 145. They captured amazing biodiversity at 530 m including a smooth dogfish!
Light Unit Development
Margaret Sullivan was a Mechanical Engineering student at MIT and she designed the Maka Niu LED (or light) module for her senior thesis in collaboration with the Media Lab Open Ocean Initiative and MIT Future Ocean Lab. Based on her design, ODL engineer Lui Kawasumi recently built a prototype LED module.
We can't thank our development team and testing participants enough for their time and feedback, all of which will improve the next-generation system!

News and Updates

Low-Cost, Deep-Sea Imaging and Analysis Tools for Deep-Sea Exploration: A Collaborative Design Study
In partnership with twenty marine professionals worldwide, this study in Frontiers of Marine Science focuses on opportunities and challenges related to low-cost, scalable tools for deep-sea data collection and AI-driven data analysis.

Future Investment Initiative Institute: Impact Report 2022 Robotics Revolution
Dr. Katy Croff Bell was recently featured in FIII's 2022 Impact Report on robotics. Read and download the full report here.


Ocean Solutions Experiment Fund Projects
We are proud to partner with Experiment on the Ocean Solutions Fund. This fund provides a fundraising platform for local ocean projects worldwide. These projects will not happen without your support! Please consider contributing to these projects and apply for your own project funds now at the Ocean Solutions website.
Deadline: Ongoing

2022 Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) TechCamp for Climate Action
The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Young Pacific Leaders, in partnership with Cultural Vistas, is pleased to announce the application launch for the 2022 Young Pacific Leaders (YPL) TechCamp for Climate Action. The TechCamp will take place October 29-31, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Deadline: August 19, 2022

Help us reach our next follower milestone on Twitter! Follow us at @OceanDiscLeague.
Photo Credits: Lui Kawasumi, Vanessa Kahn NEAQ, Robert Zuill, Craig McClain, Sheena Talma, Veta Wade, Katy Croff Bell, Ocean Image Bank: Liang Fu
Copyright © 2022 Ocean Discovery League, Inc. All rights reserved.

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