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Alphabet's moonshot to save the oceans starts with a fish cam

The Tidal team lead says there's a lot underwater that we still don't know about.

Tidal is a new project from Alphabet's X -- The Moonshot Factory. 
Tidal/ Screenshot by Shelby Brown/ CNET

Google parent company Alphabet on Monday announced Tidal, a new project in the works at its X moonshot factory. The team's goal is to sustainably protect the ocean and its ability to sustain life, according to a blog post from Tidal's general manager Neil Davé. 

Fish have a low carbon footprint compared with other sources of animal protein, and still feed billions of people, Davé said. The Tidal team has been consulting with fish farmers on how to minimize food waste, catch diseases earlier and reduce chemical usage. Using a special underwater camera allows for observation of a larger population, Davé added. In addition to the camera, X has developed a set of machine perception tools that can detect and interpret fish behaviors not visible to the human eye. 

"Our software can track and monitor thousands of individual fish over time, observe and log fish behaviors like eating, and collect environmental information like temperature and oxygen levels," Davé said in the post. "This kind of information gives farmers the ability to track the health of their fish and make smarter decisions about how to manage the pens -- like how much food to put in the pens, which we hope can help reduce both costs and pollution."

One of the X team's past project topics was power-generating kites: The company acquired Makani, which developed airborne wind turbines and aimed to make wind energy more accessible and affordable, in 2013. But the project was scrapped last month. 

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