Seagrass can now be spotted accurately through aerial photography. This was another result achieved through the MAARES project which is researching the presence of posidonia oceanica in the sea around the Maltese islands.
Posidonia oceanica is a seagrass species that is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. It is threatened by a number of human activities like anchoring, sediment changes (e.g. through dredging) and pollution. Climate change in particular sea warming also threatens posidonia.
PIXAM Limited, one of the four main collaborators in the MAARES project, developed a software to connect aerial photographs taken by drones, in one orthophoto. This orthophoto can now be used to measure true distances, because it is an accurate representation of the Earths’s surface.
The same software already highlights the presence of seagrass, which can include posidonia oceanica, as can be seen from the photo above. PIXAM Ltd. is already working on the next step. It is enhancing this optimised mapping tool to facilitate the identification of posidonia oceanica from other seagrass.
This technology should eventually make it easier to spot temporal variations in the distribution of Posidinia oceanica meadows and to link those changes over time to human activity at the monitored sites.
The MAARES project is in collaboration between Ambjent Malta, the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), the University of Malta and PIXAM Limited. It is co-funded by the MCST Space Fund Programme and Malta’s Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise (MEEE).