Researchers and students from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science are part of a local effort to create a new educational marine park and restore the natural habitat along the Hillsboro Inlet in Pompano Beach. The Wahoo Bay project has been made possible by a one-year grant from Shipwreck Park, a not-for-profit organization.
“Wahoo Bay has been designed to be a living laboratory that will provide an immersive experience for visitors while raising awareness of keeping our oceans and coral reef systems healthy,” said Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science. “We are excited to collaborate with Shipwreck Park and an impressive team of experts, scientists and citizens who share the same passion and mission for conservation, education and community outreach.”
Within this interactive park, visitors of all ages can explore the educational space above or below the water – or virtually to learn about what types of marine and plant life thrive in our oceans and reefs — and the importance of keeping these habitats healthy.
The in-water experience will be made accessible for all ages and abilities, while the on-shore experience will provide guests with interactive educational and public art exhibits.
Researchers from FAU’s Center for Connected Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence (CA-AI) and the Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE) are spearheading the installation of a water monitoring system while the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather station collects historical data. In addition to automated monitoring stations, a self-cleaning 360-degree underwater camera that provides 4K livestream video and audio 24/7 will be installed. The camera will utilize AI-assisted fish identification software to monitor, detect and report different species numbers.
“Wahoo Bay has the potential to become the experimental platform of choice for other cities to replicate,” said George Sklivanitis, Ph.D., Schmidt research associate professor and I-SENSE fellow, FAU Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “It’s a place where ocean engineers, enthusiasts, scientists and the community can come together and build the next generation of ocean observing technologies.”
FAU’s undergraduate students are also a key part of the project, working to develop a mobile app for Wahoo Bay as part of their senior engineering design project. In addition, they are creating and testing the AI software for fish identification to enable hands-on research and educational activities in the water and online through their app, which will launch during the fall.
To learn more about how Florida Atlantic is committed to protecting our environment, as well as how Transcend Tomorrow: The Campaign for Florida Atlantic University is working to provide scholarships that propel access to higher education, and address the growing need to train more health care workers, visit transcendtomorrow.fau.edu.