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Snap a Shot, Save a Damselfish

Lucy Rickards on Flickr

Imagine finding a way to use social media posts to save endangered coral reefs. Scientists from Brazil just might have done it. All it takes is a simple photograph to help on a mission to save thousands of marine species.

Coral reefs are habitats for diverse organisms that live in harmony at the bottom of the ocean. They also serve as shelter and food for many other animals that live in the sea. Unfortunately, it is nothing new that global warming and the rise of ocean temperatures are causing many of these barriers to disappear and putting species at risk of extinction.

It’s difficult for scientists to track all the changes that happen underwater. This is where social media comes in handy: knowing how popular Instagram is in Brazil, scientists there decided to create a tool that would analyze pictures posted on social media to check for alterations in the conservation of the reefs.

So when people are out on vacation and find themselves swimming close to coral reefs, by snapping a picture and posting it on the platform with the given hashtags, the software will do the work of analyzing the reefs.

The artificial intelligence working behind this software analyzes the pictures from areas that have a background of being affected more by climate change. By comparing different pictures posted and combining them with previous data, the software sends alerts to researchers on the current situation of the reefs. You can check pictures posted to track reefs in Brazil with the hashtag #DeOlhoNosCorais.

The initiative is a way to cut costs — and time — for the scientists working in preservation,  especially in a country where the coast is more than 5,700 miles long. And it is also a cool way to use your screen time to do something that will help the environment. Nature says thanks!