Meet our new master student Ninja Müller from Germany!
Updated: Feb 12, 2020
She studies marine biological resources with focus on applied marine ecology and conservation and is convinced that science should embrace the advantages of technology for efficient and effective data collection and processing, in order to advance the scientific understanding of our planet. In her master thesis, she investigates 360° video monitoring as a possible alternative to diver’s visual census.
360° video isn’t a new technology, though it just recently started to rapidly develop and improve. By now, there are 360° cameras with underwater casings on the market for a reasonable price, making them an affordable alternative to other underwater monitoring methods.
Together with the Red Sea Environmental Centre (RSEC), Ninja conducts Reef Check Surveys in the Red Sea at the coast of Egypt, both in the traditional way (6 divers moving along the transect and recording fish, invertebrates, and substrate), and with 360° video monitoring. She will compare the collected data, as well as the time and cost efficiency of both monitoring methods.
Reef Check is an international standardised monitoring method for Coral Reefs, to assess their global status. It also involves citizen scientists in the wonders and beauty of these biodiversity hotspots and enhances the understanding of the important role coral reefs play for the marine ecosystem, and raises awareness for the human impact on the ocean.
“Involving citizen scientists into research, like Reef Check does, is incredibly important to create understanding for the marine ecosystem in society”, says Ninja, “that’s why I do not understand 360° video monitoring as a possible replacement of the Reef Check monitoring, but as a possible extension!”
Ninja is collecting her data in collaboration with Cyan Planet, a company creating immersive media that evokes empathy for our oceans using the power of virtual reality, educates about the science of marine ecosystems, and sparks action in support of marine conservation (www.cyanplanet.org). Cyan Planet is based in Germany, but features an international and interdisciplinary team from 10 different countries.
Michal Lovecký, co-founder and CEO of Cyan Planet, operates the 360° cameras for the data collection and was involved in the design of the underwater monitoring method. “We had to test different designs to find the best suitable option to use the video footage for data analysis”, Michal explains, “after all, this hasn’t been done before and we at Cyan Planet are very happy and proud to be pioneering in finding new approaches of marine monitoring and training methods with RSEC and Reef Check!”
Cyan Planet is currently working on the data collection for multiple projects in the Red Sea, in collaboration with RSEC. On March 6th, they will present Ninja’s master thesis and their work, including a short VR session.