Shark Detection and Classification with Machine Learning
Jenrette, J., Liu, Z. Y. C., Chimote, P., Hastie, T., Fox, E., Ferretti, F. (2022). Shark detection and classification with machine learning. Ecological Informatics.
Suitable shark conservation depends on well-informed population assessments. Direct methods such as scientific surveys and fisheries monitoring are adequate for defining population statuses, but species-specific indices of abundance and distribution coming from these sources are rare for most shark species. We can rapidly fill these information gaps by boosting media-based remote monitoring efforts with machine learning and automation.
We created a database of 53,345 shark images covering 219 species of sharks, and packaged object-detection and image classification models into a Shark Detector bundle. The Shark Detector recognizes and classifies sharks from videos and images using transfer learning and convolutional neural networks (CNNs). We applied these models to common data-generation approaches of sharks: collecting occurrence records from photographs taken by the public or citizen scientists, processing baited remote camera footage and online videos, and data-mining Instagram. We examined the accuracy of each model and tested genus and species prediction correctness as a result of training data quantity.
The Shark Detector can classify 47 species pertaining to 26 genera. It sorted heterogeneous datasets of images sourced from Instagram with 91% accuracy and classified species with 70% accuracy. It located sharks in baited remote footage and YouTube videos with 89% accuracy, and classified located subjects to the species level with 69% accuracy. All data-generation methods were processed without manual interaction.
As media-based remote monitoring appears to dominate methods for observing sharks in nature, we developed an open-source Shark Detector to facilitate common identification applications. Prediction accuracy of the software pipeline increases as more images are added to the training dataset. We provide public access to the software on our GitHub page.