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Discovering the Ocean's Secrets on a New High-Tech Adventure

Did you know that over 90% of our planet’s seafloor is still unexplored? That fact blew Ved Chirayath’s mind a decade ago, especially when he compared it to the detailed maps of Mars and the moon he’d been working with as an engineering grad student. That’s when he decided to apply space exploration techniques to our very own oceans. After all, how can we protect something if we don’t even know what’s there?
Ved teamed up with his student, Stephanie Wright, and together they set out on their solar electric boat, equipped with a drone and zero-emission tech, to explore the ocean’s depths. Their base of operations? The University of Miami, where a supercomputer processes the massive amounts of data they collect from their field sites.

To tackle the challenges of mapping the seafloor, Ved, a professor at the University of Miami and National Geographic Explorer, invented FluidCam and MiDAR. FluidCam is a specialized digital camera and software system that can “see” through water, while MiDAR adds high-intensity light. These cool gadgets, often carried by a drone, are now helping Ved and his team map sea features down to the centimeter!

And guess what? You can join in on the fun too! Since 2020, citizen scientists have been playing the NeMO-Net video game to spot coral reefs in a virtual ocean created from Ved’s images. The data collected from this game will be used to train supercomputers that will one day map reefs around the world. Dive into the adventure of exploring and protecting our oceans!

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