A new underwater story is surfacing!
A new “toy” to preserve the beauty of the Coral Reefs in the Philippines

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€3000 goal

Time for my first solo project! I was behind the Arribada initiative for so long, and running solo is a new milestone. A minute of silence to appreciate the exhilarating fear of the unknown. From zero to hero!

The right motivation makes the difference, so this is what I need. As the famous saying in Bulgaria – KYP – keep yourself passionate. A very simple yet deceptively powerful technique. We often slip into autopilot, chasing the next shiny, expensive thing, but these are just… things. Anyway, enough with the Dalai Lama’s “love yourself” propaganda. My answer is easy I love the underwater world and want to experience it someplace different and meet the people fighting to preserve it. My usual travel partner Poly suggests the Philippines, and it is settled! Just like that a new story begins – the KISS method, don’t overthink!

First contact – the disappointment of the salesperson

The search begins. I hit Google and find potential projects, but a few phone calls later, I realise that I sound and feel like an Indian salesperson. The revelation that many conservation projects transform passion into this corporate thing where everything has a price tag is disappointing. I was treated as if I’m trying to sell them a broadband package. Frustrated, I set a new rule for my search: if their recent posts lack passion and inspiration, it’s a deal breaker – no second thoughts, moving on to the next one.

The spark appears when I meet Kaue, and Soren – the marine scientist and the team lead of Marine Conservation Philippines. Their energy is exactly what I’ve been searching for. They run a project for preserving coral reefs, and a device that records water parameters would be a game changer. I can definitely help with that! Turns out Kaue is an underwater photographer, so I’m already hooked for the underwater trials and the narcissistic selfies.

The power of community

Here’s a twist in the story. Just like that a few days later get an email from Danilo about a post I did on Wildlabs. I don’t fully understand his project at first, but after a quick call, I am intrigued. He is one of those people who talks calmly, doesn’t interrupt, and makes you feel heard – balances my chaotic energy. The project is about saving a natural mountain spring river in Brazil that a new railway construction will destroy. The government isn’t very good at listening (what a surprise), so they are trying to get more people involved. The plan is to give the “Sacred River” its own voice. Yes, to make it alive. As crazy as this sounds it might just work. Imagine a wooden statue representing the river’s avatar, answering questions like – how do you feel today? Using an AI avatar that visitors can talk to in real-time. The AI revolution is here. How amazing is this?

Here comes the interesting part: much of the research and the tech can be used for both projects. The power of open communication! Two projects, thousands of kilometres apart, working together towards a passionate mission. I don’t believe in fate, but this comes close enough. The coincidence is too big to ignore. Let’s call it “coincidental destiny”. I have a good feeling about this!

A few weeks later, we got the green light from Soren, but just as we were ready to dive in, “coincidental destiny” broke. Danillo moved to a new place, and domesticity took over. This collab is on hold as quickly as it started. However, as one door closes, another one opens. Changing teams is common in conservation tech, and I was prepared for it. My mild “Monk OCD” helped! Keeping things obsessively tidy makes it easy to onboarding new story-makers.

That’s when I found Povilas. He is a hardware engineer and a freediver, so he is quite familiar with water pressure. He pointed out some major flaws we had overlooked. The prototype must withstand a depth of 20 meters, so we are dealing with high pressure—metaphorically and literally.

“Anything with a code name is worth building” – Soren

I came up with a very “unoriginal” codename and Soren’s reaction made me laugh. Working with such positive people motivates me even more! The actual codename as it is still a work in progress so I change it almost every week – keeping it fresh! If you feel inspired join our Discord channel to give your take! I want it to have that good luck mascot vibe! Spoiler alert – it is a girl.

Why stop here – let’s trial globally!

This is another open-source community device, designed so anyone can build it from scratch. Naturally, we’re using easily accessible and popular tech for prototyping. Building a community device isn’t just about the technology; it’s also about creating a collaborative community. We want to make it useful for as many projects as possible, so we’re extending trials to projects around the world. Shout out to all innovators and do-gooders out there – join us to make this story together!

This is where we are now – stay tuned!

The nerd section

  • Code and schematics
  • The sensors
    • Water Temperature
    • Conductivity – monitor salinity
    • Turbidity – light penetration, visibility
    • Dissolved Oxygen – the amount of oxygen available in the water
    • ORP – presence of harmful oxidizing chemicals(on hold for now)