So, why do we need to use AI to monitor abalone for farmers? Jan and Phoebe say that the regular process of counting abalone is very stressful for the little critters.
Abalone are a small marine mollusc with a shell on the outside. “They’re basically a massive suction cup that stick down on the bottom of the farm tanks,” Jan says. “So every time you want to measure or check the abalone you need to scrape it off the tank and measure it, and that’s an added stressor to the abalone. Some of them may die from the stress but for most this handling stress will impact the growth and physiology of the abalone.”
The importance of the team’s research with blacklip, greenlip and hybrid abalone cannot be highlighted enough. “Developing this AI technology allows us to remove this stressor on the abalone,” Jan explains.
Since farms have thousands of abalone stocked in hundreds of tanks, using AI to automate the monitoring and counting of the abalone will result in much faster and more accurate data collection from each of the tanks.
For these researchers, as well as the abalone farmers, the AI technology has many benefits. “It is also really time consuming to count abalone by hand,” Jan says. “The goal is to be able to capture images of the abalone in the tanks and the AI can predict their weight, size and distribution just from that.”
"Developing this machine learning is a super valuable process for farmers and saves them tens of thousands of dollars per year. It is way more accurate than humans doing the work. The benefits are innumerable."
Professor Jan Strugnell