Why We Must Tackle Our Sargassum Issue

Over the past number of years, beaches and shores have been covered in sargassum. While this seaweed has some great environmental benefits and is crucial to supporting marine life, there are many issues when it washes up on shores. When on land, this seaweed can threaten both marine life and human life. Not to mention, these large blooms have the ability to discourage visitors and impact the tourism industry. Read on to find out more about sargassum and how we can use data monitoring to solve this prevalent issue.

What is Sargassum?

Sargassum is a type of seaweed that is free-floating. The ocean’s current causes it to travel in the water. Generally, people associate sargassum with being bad and do not want it in their waters. In actual fact, it allows coral reef ecosystems to thrive since it establishes a rich biological habitat. Sargassum is used as feeding grounds, shelter, and nurseries by more than 250 different kinds of fish. Given that, it is of huge importance to marine life.

What is causing an overflow of Sargassum?

Sargassum has been washing up on shores for years, affecting nearby sea life, spoiling beaches, and creating health implications for fishers, boaters, and beach visitors. Scientists traced the source of the sargassum arrival to a new accumulation zone. This zone spanned 5,500 miles, going all the way from Brazil to the coast of West Africa. It is known as the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt and contains approximately 200 million tonnes of seaweed, as reported in 2018. Before 2010, it was not an issue on anyone’s radar. The ocean currents bring it to the Caribbean, where local current patterns and wind affect where and when it lands on the beaches here.

Recently, satellite observations found an unprecedented belt of sargassum stretching all the way from West Africa to the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, experts are suggesting it is most likely here to stay. The floats of sargassum generally cover thousands of square miles and go incredibly deep into the ocean. So, what is causing this overflow of sargassum? The explosion of sargassum in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Oceans is thought to signify a new normal, according to US scientists. The  factors driving  the  growth of  sargassum  are thought to be fertilizer use and deforestation. As a result of this, the seaweed has covered beaches, making them an environmental issue that has implications for marine life and human health.

Issues with Sargassum?

Sargassum is a growing issue. When large amounts of sargassum wash up on our beaches, it rots. This reduces the amount of oxygen in our coastal waters. Here, it releases methane and hydrogen sulfide. When it does this it traps fish, coral reefs, and marine life. It can have the ability to stabilize and nourish beaches, however, the sheer quantity of the seaweed can have the opposite effect. Beyond having huge implications for marine life, it is also bad for tourism, which many people depend on. The seaweed threatens the image of crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches that entice tourists to the area. When the sargassum begins to rot, it makes beaches smell like rotten eggs which further steer away tourists.

While further research is required, sargassum is hazardous to humans. When sargassum is in the ocean, it does not pose any threats to humans. However, when it has been washed up onto the shore, it begins to rot. When it does this, it releases ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. If humans inhale this even at low levels, it can cause irritation to the eyes and breathing difficulties. On the other hand, if they inhale it at high levels, sargassum can pose threats to their life. With this in mind, it is essential that action is taken to reduce the amount of sargassum overflowing on our beaches.

Benefits of Sargassum?

There have been occurrences where fish have died as a result of sargassum. This is because it blocks the sunlight which lowers oxygen production by seaweed and various other photosynthetic organisms within the water. Once the sargassum dies, the weed decomposes and uses up all oxygen within the water, therefore, causing marine life to die.

In saying that, there are some benefits to this kind of seaweed. Residents can use the seaweed since it does have its share of environmental benefits. In particular, farmers can make use of it as

a free resource in their gardens and use it as mulch, compost, or fertilizer. In addition, this kind of seaweed is a food source, nursery, and home for a wide range of marine life, including crabs, plants, shrimps, turtles, fish, and much more.

Moreover, it helps in developing sand dunes which are an excellent help when restoring eroded beaches. They can also serve as landfills and biofuel. While it has implications when found in large quantities, small amounts of sargassum are critical to marine life.

How can data monitoring make an impact?

It is crucial that we work to reduce the amount of sargassum arriving on our beach shores. We need the benefits of sargassum rather than the issues. This can be achieved via data monitoring. In other words, we need to further explore sargassum to find out how to reduce it.

RanMarine Technology developed the world’s first data harvesting surface vessel called the DataShark. It focuses on collecting and collating water quality health data from waterways in any environment. It provides real-time data logging with GPS tagging. The DataShark makes sure data collection is an accurate and quick process. This is all to ensure our waters are safe for everyone.

Key Takeaways?

Sargassum can play an important role in our oceans. However, in recent years, large quantities of sargassum have been discovered on our beaches which poses great threats to marine life and human life. It is important that we act now to reduce the amount of sargassum washing up on our shores. However, it is even more crucial that we learn more about this kind of seaweed so that we can develop strategies to tackle this issue. Data monitoring could prove exemplary in helping us to find ways to reduce the sargassum on our beaches.

Reducing Harmful Green-Algae Blooms Is Crucial to Protecting Aquatic Life

Algae blooms are essential in maintaining a healthy body of water and a great deal of attention has been brought to them in the past number of years. This is because of the harmful impact they can have on the environment, human health, aquatic life and animals. Not all algae blooms are harmful. It is crucial to know which ones are so we can create strategies to ensure our environment and all the beings living on it are protected. Keeping our waters clean is ever more important. We use water for everything from cooking to drinking to cleaning and much more.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae is a kind of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. It is naturally occurring and a component found in freshwater environments. It’s considered crucial for maintaining a healthy body of water because it produces oxygen. Not to mention, it’s also a source of nutrition for particular marine animals. Responding to certain conditions, Blue-green algae could undergo a population explosion known as blooms.

These conditions involve slow or still-flowing water, warm days with lots of sun and high amounts of nutrients, in particular phosphorus and nitrogen. These blooms occur under natural conditions. Blue-green algal blooms can have an appearance similar to that of spilled green paint or pea soup and are not always uniform. They can sometimes be small and cover less of a lake with visible algae present. Blue-green algal blooms are also not always dense and large. When the cells break down, they create a swamp-like odour.

What’s the problem with algae blooms?

Areas where aquatic creatures are unable to survive due to low oxygen levels are known as dead zones. Generally dead zones are caused by substantial nutrient pollution. Primarily, they are an issue for lakes, bays and coastal water because they are provided with additional nutrients from upstream sources.

The additional phosphorus and nitrogen results in overgrowth of algae and this occurs in just a short period of time (algae blooms). They block sunlight and consume oxygen from the underwater plants. Once the algae finally dies, the oxygen within the water is consumed. Since the oxygen is widely reduced, this makes it very challenging for aquatic creatures to live.

The biggest dead zone within the United States, for example, is the Gulf of Mexico. It is roughly 6,500 square miles and occurs each summer. This is as a direct result of the nutrient pollution that occurs in the Mississippi River Basin.

Some of these algae blooms are known as harmful algal blooms. These blooms are considerably large and produce toxins or chemicals. They typically occur in reservoirs, ponds, bays, rivers, coastal waters and lakes.

Beyond the threats to water quality and aquatic life, algae blooms also have implications for humans, other animals and the environment. When they occur, they interfere with other uses of the water. This can impact human health and has implications for the economy and the planet. They impact water quality by creating unpleasant odours and tastes in addition to scum and discolouration.

It can also be toxic. In other words, contact with large amounts of blue-green algae can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. In serious situations, they can damage the human nervous system and liver. Exposure to blue-green algae blooms has been linked to the death of livestock, pets and wildlife.

As the bloom becomes less intense, decaying and dead algae can lower oxygen levels within the water. This has a direct effect on aquatic animals, causing them to experience stress or could even result in fatalities. During times of drought, algae blooms can severely degrade aquatic ecosystems.

Not all algae blooms are deemed harmful. Some examples of harmful algal blooms that pose implications for aquatic ecosystems, human health and the economy include red tides, cyanobacteria and blue-green algae.

What actions can I take to prevent being harmed by algae blooms?

There are a number of actions you can take to protect yourself from the impacts of green-blue algae blooms. Firstly, if you come into contact with this kind of algae, you should wash your skin thoroughly afterwards. In addition, you should steer clear from using untreated river or lake water for cooking, drinking or brushing your teeth. Many treatment steps are required to remove algae toxins. Therefore, a simple treatment will not cut it. The water could be contaminated and cause irritation to the skin. Another way to prevent yourself from being harmed by algae blooms is to not eat fish from these algae-laden waters.

Is there a way to get rid of harmful algae blooms?

There is no way to fully remove blue-green algae from lakes. This is because while they are harmful, they are an essential component of the overall algal community. Rather than thinking about ways to remove them, we need to think about how to control the frequency and intensity of harmful algae blooms. Controlling the water temperature is out of our means. Therefore, the best action we can take is to lower the number of nutrients that enter these waters. Lowering the nitrogen and phosphorus levels within man-made sources is one of the best ways to accomplish this. This reduction will not occur overnight, but taking this approach is the best long-term solution to lowering the intensity of frequency of these blooms.

A solution does exist

Toxic algae blooms are a global issue and they are accelerating at a frightening rate in our rivers, lakes, reservoirs and oceans. The results of these blooms in our waters can be extreme. They are wiping out aquatic life, threatening human and animal health and our planet. Not to mention, they are impacting local communities and industries like tourism and fishing. While there is no way to entirely eradicate these blooms, we can work to control them. There are actions we can take as individuals to protect our own health. Not to mention, there are also ways we can reduce the intensity and frequency of these blooms by reducing the phosphorus and nitrogen levels in man-made sources.

RanMarine Technology created the world’s first autonomous data harvesting surface vessel to be deployed commercially, known as DataShark. Focussing on collecting and collating water quality health data from waterways in any environment the DataShark is capable of multiple sensor configurations, real-time data logging with GPS tagging.

DataShark can be configured with different sensors to help monitor temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, blue-green algae, crude, refined oils and more. Any data you collect is immediately available for reporting and analysis through the WasteShark Data Portal.

Whether you run a smart city, water district or an organization, the DataShark helps ensure that data collection is quick and accurate ensuring our waters are safe for everyone.

Drones for Trash Clean Up in Waterways Could Save the Oceans

A project using drones for trash clean up in Denmark could show the way to saving the oceans from an environmental disaster caused by the massive volume of plastic that pollutes them.  (Part two of a two-part series on the use of drone-captured images and machine-learning software in the cause of cleaning up the environment.)

Project combines use of flying, floating drones for trash ID and collection, to clean up Danish waterways

Denmark has launched a unique experimental project, combining both unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned watercraft to combat oil slicks and floating trash in the nation’s waters.

The CityShark program, designed to coordinate the use of the two different types of drones, began in July 2019, with the use by the Danish coastal city of Aarhus of WasteShark, an unmanned waste-gobbling sailing vessel, manufactured by Rotterdam-based RanMarine Technology.
In the first phase of the project, the WasteShark, owned by the Port of Aarhus, autonomously roamed the waters at the mouth of the Aarhus River where the river flows into the harbor, and scooped up solid waste — plastic bottles, single-use cups, plastic bags and other floating debris. The WasteShark is able to collect 500 kilograms (about 1,100 pounds) of debris each day.
Read full article by DroneLife

The Health of our Waters and Innovations to Protect Them

If we had to ask ourselves if we were doing enough to protect our waters, we’d have to admit to some pretty hard truths. Because really, all it takes is one glance around the globe to see that we need to be doing a lot more to understand, measure, and manage our waters, and we need to be doing it now.

The toxic algae bloom, for example, is a global issue we’re facing on an alarming scale in our oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Sludgy, smelly, and hazardous, when toxic algae bloom out of control and release toxins, the results can be devastating.

Harmful algae blooms (HAB) have been known to last up to 14 months, wiping out all kinds of marine life in their path, including dolphins, sea turtles, and other wildlife, posing potentially dangerous health impacts for local communities, and devastating industries such as fishing and tourism.

Read our blog: Reducing Harmful Green-Algae Blooms Is Crucial to Protecting Aquatic Life

But release a DataShark into your waters and you can learn everything you need to know to help you protect your precious water resources both now, and in the future. An innovation from award-winning RanMarine Technology, the DataShark is the world’s first data harvesting autonomous surface vessel (ASV) to be commercially deployed in the fight against pollution and scourges like algae blooms.

The DataShark shares its design inspiration with RanMarine’s game-changing WasteShark. Both modelled on Mother Nature’s own whale shark, RanMarine’s WasteShark scoops up marine waste, biomass, and plastic, while the DataShark collects and collates water quality health data from waterways in any environment.

Freshwater ecosystems in particular, require effective management in order to remain healthy and function properly. Freshwater is indispensable for life on our planet, supports the environment, society, recreation, and the economy, and yet it is increasingly under threat.

In addition to the growing demand of freshwater for human purposes, the effects of climate change are also exacerbating changes, manifesting in ever more frequent and severe extreme events and disasters such as drought and floods. This in turn undermines the ability of freshwater ecosystems to contribute to both climate change adaptation, and mitigation.

Whether it’s freshwater or saltwater environments, a large water body, or small, RanMarine’s DataShark is user-friendly and easily integrated into any work environment or field operation. It only takes a one-person team to operate this intelligent aqua-drone and capture GPS tagged data points. In fact, signing into RanMarine’s secure customer web-portal would allow you to operate and manage your drones from anywhere in the world.

With 10-hours of battery life, and a typical range of 10 km, the DataShark harvests data which is captured through the RanMarine Data portal, and reported in both graph and raw format in real-time – and stored for analysis. All data is geo-tagged and time stamped, giving an accurate picture of the water quality health within your ecosystem.

Each DataShark drone can be equipped with a variety of water health quality sensors and probes. Partnering with Eureka Water Probes, RanMarine has designed its drones to facilitate the data harvesting of numerous data points including temperature, pH, conductivity, optical DO, turbidity (with optional depth and ORP), nitrogen, and toxic algae (blue/green) levels – with many other vital options configurable on request.

And the options are vital, because even something as apparently simple as a change in water temperature can have a negative impact on ecosystems. The temperature of the water influences not just the biological activity and growth of aquatic life – life that cannot survive when temperatures rise or fall too far beyond the ideal range – but it also has an effect on the water chemistry itself. Generally, the higher the temperatures, the more the chemical reactions increase. Warm water also holds less dissolved oxygen than cool water, which means there may not be enough dissolved oxygen for various aquatic species to survive.

Another apparently simple yet vital data point is the pH level of your water. For example, heavy metals dissolve much easier in acidic water and can become more toxic as a result. But even the slightest change in pH can be detrimental to aquatic life. Just a small shift can affect the gills of fish and diving insects, the hatching success of fish eggs, as well as the amphibian populations. When the shift in pH is even greater, water with an extremely high or low pH can be deadly for fish and animals.

Changes in pH and temperature can also point to the growth of algae.

Richard Hardiman, CEO of RanMarine Technology says, ‘Especially in the 21st century, the monitoring of water quality has become imperative in order to measure the effectiveness of current water policies, to better protect human health as well as the overall environment and economy, and to prevent events such as fish deaths, the loss of recreational use of water bodies, and to, when necessary, plan restoration projects.’

And we now have some compelling technology to help us protect the waters across our planet. With RanMarine’s data-harvesting DataShark and its intelligent aqua-drone twin, the waste-devouring WasteShark, the company remains steadfast in its goal to empower humankind to restore the marine environment to its natural state.

First-Of-Its Kind Partnership to Address Plastic Pollution Crisis

RanMarine Technology and The Planet Calls are pleased to announce their newly minted strategic partnership. Combining RanMarine’s award-winning technology for cleaning the world’s waters and The Planets Calls’ unwavering mission for a greener and more sustainable planet, it’s a first-of-its kind partnership that forges a new way forward.

In a referral partner agreement, the brands have come together on a unique platform to address the alarmingly compounding issue of the plastic pollution crisis.

In some form, almost all the plastic ever created still exists today. The amount of plastic produced globally in just one year is almost the same as the entire weight of humanity. And scientists predict that by 2050, there will be more tonnes of plastic in our oceans than tonnes of fish.

There is no doubt that the call to act is urgent.

Richard Hardiman, CEO of RanMarine Technology says,  ‘As a cleantech company, we are regularly introduced to people and networks who are passionate about the earth, its waters, and the need for urgent restoration; I can honestly say that few embody the same passion and vision or align with our mission so clearly as The Planet Calls; to be partnered with CEO Leslie Maliepaard and her team, to us at RanMarine, is the embodiment of what we are looking to achieve in creating stronger networks and commitments in the fight against plastic pollution.’

And in this fight against plastic pollution, RanMarine’s WasteShark drone range offers an incredibly intelligent tool for cleaning our waters.

Modelled on planet earth’s biggest fish, the whale shark, The WasteShark is the world’s first waste harvesting autonomous aqua-drone that collects marine waste, biomass, and plastic from all types of water. It can collect up to 500kg of waste per day with a zero carbon footprint.

In addition to cleaning our waters, the WasteShark can be equipped with water quality sensors to capture and report on the health of our planet’s water. RanMarine’s mission is to empower people and organisations across the planet to restore the marine environment to its natural state.

To date, Dutch-based RanMarine has introduced WasteSharks to help clean up harbour waters in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Africa, India, Denmark, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia.

The eco-friendly and quietly unobtrusive drone is proving most effective at waste chokeholds like harbours, rivers, and canals where it can devour plastic pollution before it spills into our oceans.

Encouraged by the immediate impact the WasteShark can have on the health of our waters, the sustainability specialists at The Planet Calls already see the synergy and distinct value this range can offer their clients.

Read the full article by The Planet Calls article

12 Netherlands-based energy startups that raised over €1M in 2020

The world is increasingly growing aware of the detrimental effects of fossil fuel and is actively seeking an alternative. According to the EEA, “The European energy system is undergoing rapid changes to set the EU economy on a low-carbon and resource-efficient path. Renewable energy is instrumental to this transformation. EU efforts to double the share of renewable energy in its consumption have paid off, having reduced significantly the amount of fossil fuels used and their associated greenhouse gas emissions.”

A number of European startups are also playing their part in helping the EU achieve a sustainable future; especially in the Netherlands. According to a report, the Netherlands is aiming for a rapid transition to a carbon-neutral economy to help its economic growth and energy security. The country has made notable progress on its transition to a carbon-neutral economy and has set targets to reduce them by 49% by 2030 and by 95% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels.

RanMarine Technology

Founder/s: Richard Hardiman
Founded year: 2016
Total funding: €1.6M

RanMarine Technology specialises in the design and development of industrial autonomous surface vessels (ASV’s) for ports, harbours, and other marine and water environments. The company specialises in remote-controlled and autonomous drones. It came up WasteShark, a drone to swim through water, gather data about the marine environment, and extract unwanted material. It is a drone that is efficient, non-threatening, unobtrusive, and long-lasting. This drone will eat plastics and litter, chemicals in the water, and extract pest and alien vegetation.

Read the full article by Silicon Canals article

Boundary Holding makes cleantech investment, funds Netherland-based startup

European investment firm Boundary Holding has recently invested in a Netherland-based startup – RanMarine Technology. The firm specialises in the design and development of industrial autonomous surface vehicles (ASV’s) for ports, harbours, and other marine and water environments. Before the deal was finalised, the founder of Boundary Holding Rajat Khare and the founder of RanMarine Richard Hardiman met several times in Europe.

Talking about cleantech investment that Boundary Holding has made, Rajat Khare said, “Investment for a clean environment is our core focus area. I am impressed by how RanMarine has made great progress in the past years. I am enthusiastic about this new partnership of Boundary Holding and RanMarine as it is inevitable that this partnership would fetch better results.”

Founder of RanMarine Richard Hardiman, said, “Boundary Holding will extend our reach, bring us to exciting new markets, strengthen the status within the existing market, and lay the foundation for possible further expansion, all while maintaining high quality and standards.” Post investment, RanMarine is planning to utilise the funds on the R&D of upcoming products, data and customer portal, expanding the team and business development, and trade shows for market growth.

Read the full article by London Daily Post article

Meet the Zayed Sustainability Prize finalists for start-ups

Ten candidates across five categories will be announced as 2020 winners on Monday.  This Monday, 10 candidates from a total of 30 finalists will be announced as winners of the 2020 Zayed Sustainability Prize.  The major international award now covers five categories, including health, food, energy and water. Education is addressed through its ‘global high schools’ category.  This year, finalists include start-ups which have developed technologies to combat plastic waste and the spread of disease, as well as improving access to clean electricity.  The winners will be chosen from across all categories and will each be awarded $600,000 (Dh2.2 million). Here, The National takes a closer look at some of those in contention.

RanMarine Technology

Category: Water
What they do: Remove unwanted plastic and rubbish from waterways
Where: Globally

Plastic pollution has undeniably had a devastating impact on our oceans. For years, marine life and habitats have suffered. Today, however, one social enterprise is doing its bit to restore the health of beaches, canals and rivers around the world.

RanMarine Technology invented the WasteShark, an autonomous drone which swims through water while clearing waste materials including plastics, oil, toxic algae and invasive plants.

The robot works by sucking up unwanted debris and collecting environmental data to understand changes to water quality. Its designers say it poses no threat to animals, emits no light or noise pollution and produces zero carbon or greenhouse emissions. “We chose to target this particular global issue because we love the ocean,” Oliver Cunningham, co-founder of the enterprise told The National. “It is not only the source of all life on Earth, it is also a thing of immeasurable natural beauty and fun. “We believe that building smarter, cleaner, more efficient cities is the key to ensuring that humans can live sustainably and happily on Earth.

Read the full article by UAE article

WasteShark the new device that removes floating debris from water

The climate emergency is not the only environmental issue the world is struggling to solve. Plastic products clog our oceans, threatening marine life and polluting the water. At current rates plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the sea by the year 2050. In Holland, a new device is a small sign of hope. ‘WasteShark’ is a remotely controlled device that collects rubbish from the water.

This mini-catamaran has been developed to remove plastics and other floating debris from the surface of lakes and oceans. Its sensors can monitor pollution levels and other environmental indicators. It is electrically powered, emission-free and can collect hundreds of kilos of rubbish at a time. Richard Hardiman is the founder of Ranmarine Technologies, the company responsible for Waste Shark:

“What we’re trying to do is create a small enough vessel that will get into tight spaces where waste collects, particularly in the harbours and the ports, and stop all that waste being taken out into the greater ocean.

“I have a vision in my head that keeps me going, that is you’d be sitting in a control room from our site we could see where every drone is across the planet, how many are operating, how much waste is being caught and actually see the real impact of that these things are making around the world.”

This is one of the projects that received support from the European funds allocated to making plastic circular. Ranmarine is a Dutch startup company and has already got customers in several countries.

Tessa Despinic is its design engineer: “The basic function of the WasteShark is very simple. It just swims around and collects trash from the surface. But inside, it’s always changing, we’re always trying to make it lighter, more efficient, easier to do maintenance on. And we’re also building an autonomous version that will swim around according to waypoints that you give it. So we’re always working on that and making it better.”

Read the full article by Euro News article

RanMarine Technology Appoints Drone Solutions its South East Asia Distributor

Ranmarine Technology last week announced its appointment of Drone Solutions as its Distributor in South East Asia.

Chief Executive Officer of RanMarine Technology Richard Hardiman said, “The addition of Drone Solutions to professionally represent our interests in South East Asia greatly enhances our technical and customer service, local support and product training capability and efficiency in the region.”

The Executive Director of Drone Solutions Gianluca Salone, noted “our ability to offer Ranmarine’s state-of- the-art environmentally responsible WasteShark solutions which effectively cleans inland and coastal waters of water born debris, microplastics and hazardous oil and chemicals is a great step forward in our fight against senseless water waste pollution enabling Smart Cities.”

RanMarine Technology™ is a drone technology company from The Netherlands which specializes in developing and selling remote controlled and autonomous drones called Sharks that swim through water, extracting unwanted material and gathering data about the marine environment.

The company markets and sells three distinctive products, which have zero greenhouse emissions and act as intelligent tools to cleaning our waters.

The WasteShark® will eat plastics and other litter; detect chemicals in the water; extract alien and pest vegetation.

The DataShark™ which includes the same functionality as the WasteShark is also a learning machine continually collecting data about the marine environment.

Read the full article by Inside Unmanned Systems article