After two years of prototype improvement and conclusive field testing, the Octopus Foundation team is proud to present the first version of the step-by-step manual to build your very own open source, autonomous and connected monitoring system. This kit was initially developed to study the elusive and rare Mediterranean Monk Seal.
The objective is to allow marine biologists to build and install their own kits to monitor the marine caves of their region where they know specimens of seals can be found.
Technically, this system can and will be improved in the months and years to come. We decided to publish the details with no restrictions considering it already yielded fantastic results, from a biological perspective (precise identification of animals, calendar of presence and absence in caves) as well as from a potential human-pressure perspective. For instance, it is possible to have an hour by hour account of how many tourist boats moor in front of the inhabited marine caves.
Some of our systems have been on location for more than a year, and keep sending images and data. This proves that the chosen elements are capable of withstanding harsh conditions (high temperatures during the summer in the Mediterranean basin, and high levels of humidity in the winter months, etc). Furthermore, these elements were also chosen for their limited cost. A complete system costs today about 1800 Euros*.
In order to assist those that should need a technical help to build one of these systems, the Octopus Foundation team will gladly offer any kind of support, even at a distance. We will for example provide the latest version of the software (Python script) that manages the kit, with specific parameters to each situation.
We hope that this open source monitoring kit might help as many marine biologists as possible to study the Mediterranean monk seal, and any other species (such as turtles that come to shore to lay their eggs for example), and that globally it will help to better understand these key species in order to better protect them.
* Up until February 2020, which was before the worldwide coronavirus epidemic. It might be possible that the cost of certain elements increases in the future.