Collaboration for Conservation

Turtle swims in the seaSAS is partnering with the UNC Center for Galapagos Studies to apply crowd-driven artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help protect endangered sea turtles.

Through an app called ConserVision, citizen scientists are invited to match images of turtles’ facial markings to help train a SAS computer vision model. Once the model can accurately identify turtles individually, researchers will have valuable information more quickly to better track each turtle’s health and migratory patterns over periods of time. The goal is that in the future the model can perform facial recognition on any sea turtle image, whether it comes from a conservation group or a vacationing tourist.

In addition to sea turtle facial recognition, SAS will partner with the center on two other projects: identifying hammerhead shark patterns and predicting phytoplankton populations change over time.

“For over 10 years, the Galapagos Science Center has hosted exceptional scientists doing innovative research that increases our understanding of the environment and results in positive real-world outcomes,” explained UNC-Chapel Hill Interim Vice Chancellor for Research Penny Gordon-Larsen. “This innovative public-private partnership with SAS will enhance the center’s capacity for analyzing data that will positively impact both the environment and the people who inhabit these magnificent islands.”

“As our challenges as a global community get increasingly more complex, we need dynamic ways to access and use information to ramp up conservation efforts,” said Sarah Hiser, principal technical architect at SAS. “By using technology like analytics, AI and machine learning to quantify the natural world, we gain knowledge to help protect ecosystems and tackle climate change.”

Try your hand at sea turtle recognition with the ConserVision app…

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