It's easy to think that oceans are far away and don't directly affect us, but they are deeply intertwined with our daily existence. The air we breathe, the climate we experience, and the food we consume are all connected to the health of our oceans. World Oceans Day, celebrated every year on June 8th, serves as a vital reminder of the crucial role oceans play in our lives. This year's WOD 2024 theme is 'Awaken New Depths', with also an action theme, which is 'Catalyzing Action for Our Ocean & Climate' prioritizes the urgent need to protect our oceans through innovative solutions.

The Ocean: Our Shared Treasure

Our marine environment is a treasure that supports us in many ways. Covering over 70% of the planet, the ocean produces at least 50% of Earth's oxygen, houses most of its biodiversity, and supports recreational and economic activities. It also holds significant spiritual and cultural value for many communities. Despite these immense benefits, our oceans face critical threats from plastic pollution, climate change, and overfishing.

Challenges in Mapping and Monitoring Marine Ecosystems

Mapping and monitoring marine ecosystems come with several challenges, including water depth, restricted access to locations, high instrumentation costs, and weather constraints. These factors complicate data collection and processing. However, modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Geographic Information System (GIS) open-source software offer new solutions.

Tech for Tides: Protecting Our Oceans with Innovation

Technologies, such as Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), Aquatic remote sensing, and satellite imagery, are essential tools in monitoring and preserving our oceans. These technologies provide us with unprecedented insights and the ability to act swiftly to protect marine environments.

  1. UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles):

    Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV), also known as uncrewed underwater vehicles and underwater drones, are changing ocean research and conservation. Equipped with advanced sensors UUV can capture high-resolution images and videos of coastal areas, coral reefs, and marine wildlife. They provide a cost-effective and efficient way to monitor remote or hard-to-reach areas, allowing for timely interventions and accurate assessments of marine health.

  2. Aquatic Remote Sensing:

    Aquatic Remote sensing technologies use sensors on satellites or aircraft to collect data on oceanic parameters such as sea surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration, and water quality. These data are crucial for understanding the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, tracking pollution levels, and assessing the health of coral reefs and other critical habitats. Remote sensing also helps detect illegal fishing activities and monitor the effectiveness of marine protected areas.

  3. Satellite Imagery:

    Satellite imagery provides a broad view of ocean conditions, offering valuable insights into large-scale phenomena such as ocean currents, sea level rise, and marine debris. Satellites equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical sensors can track oil spills, harmful algal blooms, and other environmental hazards in real-time, enabling swift response and mitigation efforts.

Combining AI and GIS for Marine Monitoring

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Geographic Information System (GIS) open-source software can be combined in innovative workflows to enhance marine monitoring. For example, deep learning models can be trained with spatial annotations to predict objects directly on georeferenced raster data like orthomosaics. This approach has been tested and validated in various use cases:

  1. Coral Reef Mapping: AI models can segment corals on orthomosaics made from underwater images, automating coral reef habitat mapping.

  2. Fishing Vessel Detection: Remote sensing satellite imagery can be used to detect and classify fishing vessels, providing an estimate of fishing effort.

  3. Marine Species and Habitat Segmentation: AI models can segment marine species and habitats on underwater images with simple geolocation, aiding in the study and preservation of these environments.

These models have been successfully trained, and their predictions are displayed on maps, showcasing their effectiveness in marine ecosystem monitoring.

Turning Data into Action

Combining geospatial data with advanced analytics and machine learning enhances our ability to predict and mitigate the impacts of climate change on oceans. These technologies help create models that simulate oceanic processes and inform policy decisions. By using geospatial data, stakeholders can design targeted conservation strategies, optimize resource allocation, and promote sustainable ocean management practices.

The Marine Environment: Supporting Life and Livelihoods

The marine environment supports biodiversity, recreational and economic activities, and is integral to a sustainable blue economy. This economy contributes to economic growth while preserving the health of marine and coastal ecosystems. Marine geospatial data helps us understand our marine environment and make informed decisions to protect our oceans for future generations.


On World Oceans Day 2024, let us unite in our efforts to protect the blue heart of our planet, embracing the action theme "Catalyzing Action for Our Ocean & Climate" with commitment and innovation. Our marine environment is a treasure that must be preserved with care and respect for all it provides.