We have already lost or severely damaged more than 50% of coral reefs and 85% of oyster beds worldwide. Studies estimate nearly all reefs will be at risk by 2050 unless action is taken now to reduce the threats. We aim to do something about this.

The context

Lately, you’ve probably seen the devasting effects of climate change in the news. Reports of floods and forest fires have never been so frequent. Global warming is showing its effect on our planet more than ever before. One of these effects is a little bit less visible because it takes place underwater. I’m talking about the acidification of the ocean. Rising temperatures combined with an increasing concentration of CO2 in the ocean cause the water to be more acidic. This change in temperature and acidity harms animals that build shells, such as corals. Occupying less than 1% of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life. Apart from the importance of biodiversity, coral reefs provide food, income, and protection for half a billion people on earth. Predictions are that if the ocean’s temperature rises by 2 degrees, the earth will lose all its coral reefs. And we are already at +1 degree! That’s why FruitPunch AI decided to collaborate with ReefSupport to set up a challenge to make a difference!

ReefSupport is building a platform through which researchers can automatically analyze their ocean surveys. Coral reef surveyors collect benthic images about their marine ecosystem and must store, process, and eventually share this information. Organizations that do regular surveys of their reef tend to take ~100 pictures per survey. When they return to the office, they analyze the captured photographs to infer the health and growth of their reefs, as well as to count and identify fishes and substrates and other features important for a holistic and thriving marine ecosystem. Post analysis consumes more time than dive: 4 hr dive = 5 days to analysis.

A typical reef analysis follows the following steps:

–        Step 1: Color correction

–        Step 2: Image segmentation of corals (boundary detection)

–        Step 3: Identify the coral cover and length of corals (Ruler detection and measurement)

–        Step 4: Color & bleaching detection

The goal of this challenge is to automate the first 2 steps.

The challenge

The AI for Coral Reefs challenge concerns: Create an ML model for color correction and image segmentation of coral reefs.


You will be working on one or several of the following topics in this challenge:

  • Color correction of each uploaded image
  • Image segmentation model
  • Creating a pipeline to automate the entire process

To learn more, watch the info session HERE!

Who we’re looking for

You can apply at any level of experience above basic (theoretical) coding & data science skills. If you are just starting out, join the platform & turn on email notifications because we will be releasing an AI Bootcamp soon! In the selection of the team we look for a combination of rookies looking to learn, hardened professionals and life-long learners switching it up. We are looking for:

  • AI engineers / data scientists > experience with image segmentation is a pro!

You can join as a contributor (12 hours per week commitment for 2 months), coach (2-4 hours per week, only for experienced ML professionals) and teacher (give one relevant ML / domain masterclass).

During the challenge we will arrange for masterclasses on relevant topics like the use of the cloud computation resources Microsoft, IBM & the HPC Lab have made available for us.

Apply for the challenge HERE!

Challenge format

The challenge will run from the 15th of September until the 17th of November, & you will collaborate with a diverse team of over 30 international data specialists and domain experts in subteams, all tackling this problem from different angles.

Some important dates:

  • Info session                                – 14th of September 17:00 CEST
  • Application deadline                  – 30th op September
  • Kickoff date & time                    – 4th of October 19:00 CEST
  • Midterm date & time                 3rd of November 19:00 CEST
  • Final presentation date & time1st of December 19:00 CEST

Apply to join the Challenge

Fill in the Google Form behind this button to become one of the 50 engineers collaborating with ReefSupport to develop ML models that will help researchers track the well-being of our coral reefs!!

Quick facts

🥥  Coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life.

🍊  Over half a billion people on earth rely on coral reefs for food, income for protection.

🍉  Already 50% of coral reefs and 85% of oysterbeds are lost or severely damaged. 

🥝  50% of the oxygen on earth is produced in the ocean. Besides that the ocean stores 50 times more CO2 than the atmosphere 

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration