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Unselfish Shellfish Share Data

Sr. Product Marketing Director

Sitting at latitudes between 40 and 44 degrees south, Tasmania enjoys a temperate climate, cooler than mainland Australia to its north. The cool, clean seas surrounding the island are ideal for aquaculture, and consumers across Australia and Asia value the quality of Tasmania’s oysters, abalone and Atlantic salmon. Such is the demand for Tasmanian oysters that in the year July 2011 to June 2012, the island’s oyster industry fulfilled less than 70 percent of demand.

Oysters are hardy creatures, able to survive wide ranges of environmental factors including turbidity, salinity, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and available food –algae they filter from the water. At extremes of these factors, oysters maintain life rather than thrive, so given market demand for Tasmanian oysters, growers look for opportunities to optimize growth of their crop and so boost their production. Enter big data, to inform farmers on the quality of the marine environment and health of their stocks.

I’ve previously blogged about the Sense-T project. Sense-T is a high priority infrastructure project of the Australian government, and is one of IBM’s international collaborative projects. Sense-T integrates environmental data from a Tasmanian-wide network of intelligent sensors with data from multiple other sources of data. This resource will improve decision-making throughout Tasmania’s economy – more details at www.sense-t.org.au.

Sense-T’s Aquaculture Biosensors project is developing OysTag, a device to be attached to an oyster and record variables including:

  • ambient light available to the mollusk -indicating whether its immediate environment is clear or turbid water
  • pressure - used to calculate the depth at which the creature lives
  • water temperature
  • heart rate - to calculate metabolic rate and predict growth
  • degree of gape or openness of its shell - indicating feeding behaviour

Integrating these data with water quality data (dissolved oxygen, salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll level – as a measure of available food) and delivering information via dashboards will provide farmers with new insights on what actions they can take to optimize their crops and when to harvest, and thus produce safe and healthy seafood.

The revolution fueled by plunging costs of generating and managing big data continues to reach deep in to our economies.