As 2023 concludes, AusOcean celebrates a year of innovation and dedication to ocean conservation and technology. This year, we saw the continued recovery of an extinct oyster reef ecosystem off the shores of Glenelg in South Australia. This innovative project, involving our unique sound technology to attract baby oysters, was recognised at the SA Science Awards for its significant contribution to marine science and innovation.
AusOcean at the SA Science Awards
In addition to bringing the world of giant cuttlefish and Rapid Bay to homes worldwide, we expanded our underwater camera network early in the year to include Edithburgh. This expansion is part of our commitment to providing broader access to the marvels of marine life and fostering greater awareness and understanding of our underwater ecosystems.
Edithburgh underwater camera
This year, AusOcean's educational outreach soared with our Network Blue program expanding its horizons. We proudly welcomed Narooma High School as our first interstate educational partner, underscoring our dedication to nurturing the next generation's understanding of oceanic health. We've enriched our learning materials and enhanced our online learning platform, setting the stage for sustained growth and broader educational engagement in 2024 and beyond.
Network Blue Rig deployment at the Port River
In 2023, AusOcean made significant technological strides, particularly in hardware development:
- The Self Contained Underwater Hydrophone Unit (SCUHU) was created for efficient marine audio collection and features a versatile underwater battery compartment for various applications.
- Prototyping began on a mast electronic assembly (MEA) aimed at simplifying mast electronics.
- The AusOcean Hydrophone has been innovatively redesigned to function as an Ethernet device, a move that significantly minimises the length of microphone cable required. This clever adaptation greatly reduces signal noise, enhancing the clarity and quality of our underwater audio recordings.
- Router PCB (v1.3) was redesigned for improved cabling management.
- A new integrated power and data wet-mate connector was designed and tested.
- A new standard wet-mate power connector was developed for more robust and standardised use.
- Improvements were explored for camera housings, including the use of fisheye lenses.
- Screw pile sizing was optimised to simplify installation.
- We engineered a versatile camera arm for our rigs, enabling efficient servicing and flexible deployment both underwater and on the surface, with the adaptability to adjust setups mid-deployment.
- Developed a working prototype of an induction ethernet coupler, paving the way to replace costly Ethernet-over-Power adapters.
- Upgraded our speaker module, eliminating relays to simplify electronics and reduce costs.
- Conducted a successful UVC LED antifouling experiment, promising advancements in biofouling prevention.
- Finalised the components for our inaugural batch of camera, hydrophone, and Rig kits.
- Introduced an improved camera bracket and stand at Stony Point for enhanced deployment.
- Implemented a new rigid bridle bar design on the Stony Point Rig to bolster stability and minimise capsizing risks.
AusOcean crew out on the water
In the realm of software, AusOcean has made substantial strides with VidGrind, introducing a fresh ESP software version that enhances data visualization and user interaction. New features include public site access for student data engagement, administrative controls for site creation and access management, and a 'start now' function that streamlines the initiation of live stream broadcasts. Furthermore, our foray into open-source projects has birthed OpenFish, which features an API for stream data annotation, a nascent web app exemplifying this API, and documentation to guide volunteer contributors. Progress has also been made towards establishing permanent streams on our YouTube channel, which will further broaden our audience reach.
As we cast our gaze towards the horizon of 2024, AusOcean remains steadfast in its journey of discovery and protection of our marine world. Our achievements in 2023 are but stepping stones to greater heights in ocean conservation and technology. With continued dedication and innovative spirit, we look forward to nurturing a new generation of ocean stewards.
AusOcean is a not-for-profit ocean research organisation that supports open source practices. Open source approaches to tackling environmental issues means embracing collaborative tools and workflows which enables processes and progress to be fully transparent. A critical aspect of working open is sharing data not only with your immediate team but with others across the world who can learn, adapt and contribute to collective research. By contributing to, and supporting open practices within the scientific community, we can accelerate research and encourage transparency. All tech assembly guides can be found at https://www.ausocean.org/technology