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Image by Tomoe Steineck

CHARM the Coral Farming Robot

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Technology Area

Restoration Activity

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Jan 28, 2020

Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia

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To serve its principal objective, CHARM, the coral farming robot, is designed to help practitioners restore their localized coral reefs around the world. The design uses commercially available parts to integrate into existing industry methods and has a simple and programmable user interface.

Recovery of our reefs depends on three interdependent pillars of action. CHARM as both the technology & a commercial enterprise will effectively meet all three pillars of action. These three pillars are:
- Advancement in restoration practices, marine science, and active coral reef restoration to enhance recovery and adaptation rates, maintain or restore biodiversity, and explore new restoration technologies.
- Reduce global climate threats through nature-based solutions.
- Improve local conditions by increasing protection and improving management for coral reef resilience.

To recover our reefs, we estimate that over 100,000 corals will need to be restored in the wild every day. The scale of coral restoration required for effective worldwide sustainability is of medium- to large-scale (100 million – 1 billion corals per year).

The Problem:
Currently, staff labor accounts for about 50% of annualized costs at coral nurseries. All attempts to grow coral in captivity rely on highly labor-intensive techniques and are not applicable to medium- and large-scale coral production. Coral aquaculture facilities are typically filled with thousands to millions of corals in captivity. Corals must be regularly cleaned of harmful pests, fed, and monitored. Sexually and asexually rearing corals takes a lot of effort with repetitive tasks yet is of crucial importance in order to increase coral quantity and survivability. Research shows it takes 4,000 hours to clean and maintain 10,000 coral fragments (equal to 3 people working full-time for 1 year)

To minimize nursery expenses and maximize coral health, CHARM aims to automate repetitive tasks in coral farming.

The Solution:
CHARM is an automated, aquaculture apparatus and method to; clean coral with a rotary agitator; cultivate coral with a nozzle; catalog coral with an inspection instrument, and; utilize interchangeable tooltips.

Image by Dustin Humes

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