Lady in pink floral dress standing at a long timber table.  Cultural objects line the table as a lovely display.

Working with Google, Helping Kelp Project - Lutruwita, Tasmania


22nd February 2024


In recent years, the plight of the marine ecosystems has gained significant attention. In response to this environmental concern, Google has stepped forward with a groundbreaking initiative. This blog post explores Google's partnership with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Great Southern Reef Foundation, in Tasmania. Together, they aim to leverage artificial intelligence to address the challenges faced by the delicate kelp forests of the Great Southern Reef.


The Importance of Kelp Ecosystems

Kelp forests are not only visually stunning but also play a vital role in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. These underwater forests provide shelter, food, and breeding grounds for an array of marine species. Furthermore, kelp helps mitigate climate change by absorbing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Recognising the significance of these ecosystems, Google has taken a proactive role in their preservation.


The Collaboration of Google and IMAS

Google, known for its innovative approach, has joined forces with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) in Tasmania. This partnership signifies a significant step towards understanding and preserving the kelp forests. IMAS brings scientific expertise and valuable data on the state of these ecosystems, while Google contributes its technological prowess to develop advanced AI models and algorithms.


AI Technology for Kelp Restoration

Combining IMAS's research with Google's AI capabilities, the collaboration aims to develop AI models that can analyse vast amounts of data related to kelp health, environmental factors, and biodiversity. These models will enable scientists to gain valuable insights into the current state of kelp forests, predict future trends, and identify potential restoration strategies. By leveraging AI, the project aims to expedite the process of restoring and protecting these vital ecosystems.


The Role of CSIRO and the Great Southern Reef Foundation

In addition to the collaboration with IMAS, Google has also partnered with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Great Southern Reef Foundation. CSIRO brings its expertise in marine conservation and data analytics, while the Great Southern Reef Foundation provides on-ground support and coordinates community-driven initiatives. This multi-faceted collaboration ensures a holistic approach towards the preservation and restoration of kelp forests.


Through a Cultural lens

In addition, Google invited Key people and media to come to lutruwita, to see this for themselves and be immersed in the science and technology to amplify this message.  These organisations recognise and respect the cultural significance of kelp to Tasmanian Aboriginal people, it was due to this recognition that led to my involvement. As they set off for a day on the water in search of remnants of giant kelp forests, I was asked to address the carefully selected participants. I was able to set a scene of what our oceans and waterways looked like and what they could have expected to see pre-colonisation. A dinner that night at MAC1 also provided me with the opportunity to share my story, thoughts, and artwork. Being surrounded by people who share my passion for kelp was wonderful, and having all of those minds in one place gave me hope for the future. Under the Digital Futures program, Google has invested $1 billion of its own money to kickstart the work.


Looking towards tomorrow

The partnership between Google, IMAS, CSIRO, and the Great Southern Reef Foundation marks a significant milestone in the conservation of marine ecosystems. By harnessing the power of AI, these organisations are paving the way for innovative solutions that can address the challenges faced by kelp forests. As we move forward, it is crucial to recognise the importance of preserving these underwater wonders and supporting initiatives that promote the sustainable future of our marine environments



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