Conservation Tech: New AI Technology Helps Estimate Manatee Populations From Images

How do you count manatees? Ideally, standing by a river while playing with the aquatic mammals. However, in a world where manatee populations face increasing threats, a faster and more accurate method is imperative.

A new computer model developed by engineers at the Florida Atlantic University uses deep learning to count manatees in images captured by cameras.

The model has been trained to identify manatees in shallow waters, and can be used to identify where they aggregate, which can, in turn, be helpful to plan conservation actions and design rules for boaters and divers.

While the model can’t yet distinguish between adults and calves, or between males and females, the engineering team says it plans to continue working with biologists to get their feedback on how to improve it further.