Could machine learning save this sea cow?

It’s hard to imagine this adorable sea cow getting caught in a fishing net, or losing its home to coastal development. Unfortunately that’s what’s happening to many populations of large marine mammals around the world. It’s urgent—sea cows are under threat of extinction. Sea cows might be cute, but it turns out they’re also really hard to keep track of. And keeping accurate data on populations is critical for conservation efforts. For decades, scientists had to spend days peering out of small planes to count populations, which was expensive and sometimes hazardous. Dr. Amanda Hodgson of Murdoch University has helped to change that, using drones to take aerial photography of the ocean. But now that they can collect aerial photos remotely, there’s a new challenge: how can they find the…


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