Alphabet’s X announces Tidal to save the world’s oceans

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Alphabet's X announces Tidal to save the world's oceans
Alphabet's X announces Tidal to save the world's oceans

It covers almost three quarters of the Earth, but we know only a fraction of what lies beneath the ocean’s surface. Google’s parent company Alphabet has today launched a new initiative called Tidal aimed at changing that, with an overarching objective to use a better understanding of the ocean to better protect the marine environment.

“We know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about the deepest parts of the ocean floor,” writes Neil Davé, the general manager for Tidal.

As part of Alphabet’s X moonshot factory, the group behind other ambitious ideas like Alphabet’s drone delivery service and its Project Loon internet endeavor, Tidal was dreamt up with the big picture in mind. While the end game is to protect the ocean and its precious ecosystems, it is starting with baby steps to learn more about this environment, much like the Ocean Discovery XPrize competition that announced an autonomous mapping vessel as its winner last year.

Initially, it will work to develop tools for fish farmers that can be used to cut down on wastage and chemicals, while preventing diseases spreading through their stocks. It has built an underwater camera powered by software that can detect, track and monitor thousands of individual fish along with things like water temperature and oxygen levels, in a way not possible using just the human eye.

The idea is that observing the fish and their behaviors in this kind of unprecedented detail, can help farmers manage their pens in more efficient ways, through the smarter use of fish food, for example.

Tidal has spent three years developing this tool in collaboration with fish farmers around the world, and now hopes to validate the technology before setting its sights on other areas of ocean conservation.

“We plan to apply what we’ve learned to other fields and problems, with the help of ocean health experts and other organizations eager to find new solutions to protect and preserve this precious resource,” writes Davé.

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