Nido Robotics develops the underwater robots and payload technology used by the scientific researchers of IMIDA to investigate the situation of the lagoon, currently in a critical condition.

A few days ago, the Murcian Institute of Research and Development for Agriculture and Food (IMIDA in Spanish) organized the XVII Conference of the Spanish Association of Teledetection in the city of Murcia. The conference brought together more than 170 experts on Earth observation through the use of satellites, drones, ROVs and state-of-the-art sensors from around the world. These experts presented more than 119 scientific papers, including the study on the Mar Menor realized by the GIS and Teledetection Group (SIGyT) of IMIDA.

The Mar Menor (literally ‘small sea’) is a salty lagoon in the south-east of Spain, separated from the Mediterranean Sea (also called the ‘Mar Mayor’ or ‘Large Sea’ locally) by a 21-kilometer long sandbar, developed into La Manga, a well-known tourist destination in Europe. Four channels connect both seas, regulating the salinity and the temperature of the lagoon and allowing for the exchange of marine life. From the study made by SIGyT, it is clear that Las Encañizadas, the most significant of these channels, is disappearing.

The text continues after the image.

 Mar Menor from the satellite on August 4, 2017

Satellite picture of the Mar Menor, August 4th, 2017

Las Encañizadas is an area stretching from the northernmost point of La Manga and corresponding to about 220 hectares of the surface of the natural park Las Salinas and Arenales in San Pedro del Pinatar.

“It has been a decade since the maps of Las Encañizadas were updated, mainly due to the difficult access to the area” explained Manuel Erena, director of the SIGyT-IMIDA during his presentation of the study at the conference.

With the help of satellite images, drones, and ROVs, the scientists of the SIGyT have done photogrammetric and bathymetric studies of the area, making it possible to analyze the state of Las Encañizadas.

The results show that Las Encañizadas has narrowed by 80% over the course of eight years. “Since 2009, it has gone from an entrance width of 540 meters to 120 meters. As for the depth of the canal, it has passed from a draft of 70 centimeters to only 25,” said the researcher of the IMIDA.
The most significant deposits took place during a massive winter storm in December 2016. Heavy rains and a strong easterly wind moved large amounts of sand from the nearby Llana beach according to the findings of the analysis.

A new system for water quality assessment

During the conference, the SIGyT also presented an analysis of the state of the waters of the lagoon. With the help of a sensor system called ‘Envirosense,’ developed by Nido Robotics specifically for this study, it has been possible to record the evolution of the levels of various parameters like temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, ph or chlorophyll concentration.

Chlorophyll concentration is an indicator of algae bloomings, and too many algae make the water cloudy with a greenish hue. According to the relevant regulations, chlorophyll levels should not exceed 5 milligrams/liter to prevent a eutrophic state, which is when there is an excess of nutrients.
Regarding the green color of the Mar Menor, Erena stresses that “the green pigment is due to chlorophyll, but that does not mean that the water is unhealthy, only that there are large amounts of nutrients reaching the lagoon.”

Professional technology with a ‘low-cost’ price tag

There are a few underwater robots currently on the market, but these tend to be either too toy-like or too expensive for many applications.

There are a few underwater robots currently on the market, but these tend to be either too toy-like or too expensive for many applications.

At Nido Robotics we recognized the need for professional tools that are easy to use and accessible, allowing teams to perform underwater work and science more efficiently, without risk to personnel, and without compromising the quality of the results.

After working closely with researchers and professionals, we are launching our newest and smallest underwater robot Sibiu Nano on the crowdfunding platform IndieGoGo in a few weeks. The ROVs offered through this campaign will have a reduced price as compared to retail price, and a few units will have a significantly reduced rate to create some excitement around the campaign. You can be amongst the first to know about the launch by signing up for our campaign alert email.

All our technology is customizable based on customer needs, as has been the IMIDA case.

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