NATO’s Steel Fish To Protect Med from Oil Spills

steel fishNATO’s “steel fish” may not be works of art like this, but they have a very important goal: to catch oil spills.

Pollution issues in the Mediterranean Sea have reached a point where the future of this historic body of water will be in serious doubt without environmental protection. A new project called “steel fish” is a hightech undersea contamination detector, which will be NATO’s way of giving advanced notice of leakage of oil from ships sailing through this body of water, as well as from wells being drilled into the Mediterranean seabed.

steel fishMonitoring NATO’s “steel fish”

The “sea robots”, a creation by NATO’s Undersea Research Centre (NURC), headquartered in La Spezia Italy, will be able to give enough of an advanced warning of  a sudden oil leakage of spill, as well as detect the motors of boats and other marine vessels that illegally enter protected marine areas.

The robotic devices, after being positioned under water, will be coordinated with satellites and other overhead surveillance devices, radar equipment and computer banks, which will compile data to determine the seriousness of these incidents.

The Mediterranean is being affected by a number of environmental problems, including over-fishing, contamination from garbage, raw sewage, and industrial wastes being literally dumped into sea, in countries like Lebanon. Flying into Beirut, you can literally sea the trash floating out to sea.

In addition to dumping, large amounts of plastic and other debris is floating on the sea’s surface as well as accumulating on the seabed.

An increasing  amount of drilling for both oil and natural gas could become even more complicated – consider Israel wants to construct an underwater pipeline to carry natural gas produced in the gas fields off Israel’s coastline all to way to Greece. This alone could be very problematic in the event of a pipeline leak or rupture, which could be caused by sabotage as we are seeing now in Egypt. Militants are sabotaging the natural gas lines leading to Israel and Jordan.

The need to monitor pollution and other environmental problems in the Mediterranean is a very important one. This body of water already has been affected considerably  by pollution, global warming and climate change, and by invasions of marine life from other bodies of water – especially by large numbers of jelly fish, whose natural enemies have been considerably reduced by over-fishing.

While much of the technology that went into the development of these “steel robotic fish” came from military applications, the fact that this technology can now be applied for peaceful purposes is a very good fact in itself, and once again proves that what was developed for use in war can also find usefully in peaceful pursuits like much of the medical and communications technologies we use today.

Read more on Mediterranean pollution and other issues:
Garbage Trucks Dump Straight into the Sea in Lebanon
Is the Mediterranean Sea Harboring a Giant Plastic Garbage Patch?
Israel’s Undersea Pipeline Idea May Increase the Mediterranean’s Already Polluted State
Israeli Marine Ecologist Says Mediterranean Needs More Environmental Protection

Top photo via The Sculpture Web site
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