Northeastern University scientist Brian Helmuth has developed “robomussels,” which are the shape, size, and color of actual mussels built with miniature sensors that monitor temperatures in the mussel beds where they are planted.
These miniature robots have been helping a global team of 48 scientists track temperatures in the surrounding air or water and the amount of solar radiation in their environments for the past 18 years.
The result is a database that helps scientists identify areas of unusual warming and undertake interventions to curb damage to vital marine ecosystems, as well as develop strategies to prevent the extinction of certain marine life.
Additionally, the database could help reveal emerging hotspots to help policy makers intercede and relieve stressors such as erosion and water acidification before their effects become irreversible.
“They look exactly like mussels but they have little green blinking lights in them,” Helmuth explained. “You basically pluck out a mussel and then glue the device to the rock right inside the mussel bed. They enable us to link our field observations with the physiological impact of global climate change on these ecologically and economically important animals.”
Helmuth’s research was recently published in the journal Scientific Data
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