Today’s Solutions: September 25, 2021

With scientists in need of more data about the warming of our oceans, a US-based nonprofit has come up with a nifty solution: giving data-collecting “smart” surfboard fins to surfers.

Surfboards typically have fins to improve stability. By including sensors into the fins, now it’s possible for surfers to collect a range of data while catching waves, including temperature and location. Part of the reason Smartfins are a powerful tool is that they can collect data in choppy coastal waters where it’s difficult to operate conventional sensors.

“This is enormously beneficial for researchers,” said Bresnahan. “No scientist would be able to do a whole lot with a temperature time series without their locations.”

The team hopes to include pH detectors and optical sensors soon too. While the Smartfins are providing extremely valuable information for ocean scientists, the Smartfin project still relies on donations, which means it’s not looking to become a mass-market product anytime soon, project creator Andy Stern told Science Magazine. Yet the desire to help protect a much-loved resource is motivating surfers to get involved in data collection.

“If doing what I love and being where I love to be can contribute toward scientific research with the ultimate goal of ocean conservation, then I’m stoked to be doing it,” says David Walden, Smartfin project participant.

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