A diver examines one of the coral nurseries on the coral reefs of the Society Islands in French ... [+] GETTY IMAGES

NOAA - Robot Divers Could Use Artificial Intelligence To Save Coral Reefs

While scientists have succeeded at restoring some coral reefs, humans alone can’t save all the reefs that are dying across the globe, a NOAA reef restoration manager said this month.

Even in the best of conditions, human divers can spend only three or four hours per day working under water, said Tom Moore, coral reef restoration program manager for the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration. And those best conditions are rare.

That’s not enough to halt the collapse of one of the planet’s most crucial ecosystems, Moore said at the EarthxOcean conference: half the world’s coral reefs have died and the rest are expected to perish in this century. That vanishing coral hosts 25 percent of the ocean’s biodiversity, Moore said, and supports fisheries that feed hundreds of millions of people and contribute billions of dollars to the global economy.

“We have to stop having coral biologists trying to stop this problem with PVC pipe and zip ties the way they’ve done it for a long time,” Moore said. “We have to challenge the assumption that coral-reef restoration has to be performed by snorkelers and scuba divers.”

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