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This Robot Jellyfish Could Save Coral Reefs — if Sea Turtles Don't Eat It

It looks just like a real jellyfish — which is a good thing and a bad thing.


Humans may have helped destroy the ocean, but man-made technology could help to save it.

Joining the ranks of the underwater animal collecting claw, the digitized surfboard fin that measures ocean data and the app that can help prevent shark attacks is a new special robot.

According to Wired, researchers at Florida Atlantic University have created a robotic jellyfish designed to monitor the health of the ocean without disturbing it any further.

It looks just like a real jellyfish.

And, like a real jellyfish, the robot's soft body and tentacles ensure the robot can maneuver through small holes to investigate ocean crevices. Wired reports that the team based the body on that of a larval moon jellyfish.

Here's what they look like in real life:

Giphy/Oregon Coast Aquarium

The gentle materials also protect the environment from the robot itself. That way it can travel through delicate areas like the Great Barrier Reef without causing the coral and the surrounding ecosystem any more harm.

"Conventional underwater robots are rigid, and often use a propeller for locomotion, meaning they could unintentionally chop up coral reefs," FAU's Erik Engeberg told Digital Trends.

That's why their robot has a soft material body and water-inflated tentacles.

According to Wired, the robot is designed to measure the water's temperature and salinity to make sure the surrounding area is within normal levels and report back if it's not.

The BBC reported that it could also be used to monitor reef health and erosion and oxygen levels as it swims along just like a jellyfish can.

Just squishing along.

robot jellyfish

Giphy/Wired

That all sounds great, right? Well, yes, but there is one potential roadblock.

Marine biologist John Turner raised a concern to BBC that perhaps sea turtles and other marine animals could mistake the robot jellyfish for a real jellyfish and try to eat it.

Sea turtles already have enough plastic ingestion issues without adding anything else to the mix.

Turner recommended the FAU researchers add a warning sound or make the robot taste bad to dissuade predators.

For now, Digital Trends reported that the scientists have already pledged to closely observe the robot's location so it can be taken out of the water each time a data collection mission is over.

That way it won't keep drifting around, potentially becoming food.

robot jellyfish

Giphy

If they can also ensure it won't choke ocean life, it could be a great way to check in on the fragile reef.

Another potential win for science!

Giphy

Add your name right now to make a difference for marine life and our oceans with Oceana.

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