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Can Cost-Effective, Compact Deepwater Sensors and eDNA Samplers Unveil the Deep-sea Biodiversity of the Philippines?

Raised of $9,800 Goal
Funded on 7/04/24
Successfully Funded
  • $10,040
  • 102%
  • Funded
    on 7/04/24

About This Project

The project aims to develop a compact, cost-effective deepwater sensors & environmental DNA (eDNA) samplers to revolutionize deepwater research, in areas where such studies are limited. Overcoming the drawbacks of traditional, costly methods like Niskin bottles, the new design aims to enhance accessibility and frequency of deepwater ecosystem studies. This innovation could dramatically improve our knowledge of deep-sea biodiversity offering significant contributions to global ocean conservation.

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What is the context of this research?

The deep sea (waters >200 meters in depth) remain one of the least explored and understood ecosystems on our planet, despite covering a vast majority of the Earth's surface. In the Philippines, a country with territorial waters predominantly deeper than 200 meters, the exploration and study of marine biodiversity are hindered by the cost and logistical challenges associated with deploying traditional sampling equipment, like in many other coastal nations. The development of a compact, affordable deepwater eDNA sampler would be a significant step forward in unlocking the mysteries of these hidden ecosystems.

What is the significance of this project?

Traditionally deep sea water samplers needs to be deployed from large cranes, and are limited to large and expensive vessels operations, often unaccessible in the global south. The newly developed deepwater sampler will be an effective methods to capture eDNA, while being more accessible due to reduced costs and increased deployability. It will be able to be deployed by hand from any small local vessel, allowing researchers and citizen scientists around the world collect samples and contribute to local and global projects. Paired with the decreasing cost of metabarcoding (a tool to identify all species present in an area from a water sample through the use of genetics) the samplers will allow to scale up deep sea knowledge and awareness globally.

What are the goals of the project?

The wider goal of our work is to make deep sea more accessible to the scientific community of the global south, by lowering the cost of equipments and making technologies equally and equitably available for small research groups and citizen scientists.

This project aim to develop a compact, cost-effective deep sea water sampler to be used to extract eDNA, equipped with basic sensors, that is cheaper and easier to deploy than traditional samplers;

We will then test the efficacy and efficiency of the sampler in capturing eDNA from deepwater environments in the Philippines by analysing eDNA quality and quantity extracted;

The results will be used to raise awareness on deepwater biodiversity importance and shared on Github.


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This budget covers all phases of the project, from design and development to field testing, laboratory analysis, and project management. The contingency fund ensures flexibility for unforeseen expenses. All plans for the development of the sampler will be made open-access to increase the reach and impact of the project.

Endorsed by

This project shows a huge amount of promise! With Titus' track record of already working with low-cost deep-sea sensors (particularly with our Maka Niu system) and Alessandro's expertise, I have full confidence in their ability to tackle the challenge of developing compact, cost-effective deepwater sensors & environmental DNA (eDNA) samplers.

Project Timeline

This timeline outlines the breakdown of key phases from development up to outreach for the project: starting with the development of the compact, cost-effective eDNA sampler, moving into prototyping, and initiating field testing by November (subject to change depending on weather conditions). Local engagement will also be conducted by the end of the project to increase public awareness and engagement.

Jun 04, 2024

Project Launched

Jun 15, 2024

Expert Consultation  and User Centric Design study.

Aug 01, 2024

Finalize project plan and begin design phase for the compact eDNA sampler.

Sep 01, 2024

Complete initial design

Sep 15, 2024

Order materials needed for prototype and testing

Meet the Team

Titus Cañete
Titus Cañete
Marine biologist


Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines
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Alessandro Ponzo
Alessandro Ponzo


Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines
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Titus Cañete

Initially taking up Biology in pursuit of a future career in medicine, Titus fell in love with marine conservation and has since shifted his focus to protecting the beauty of the ocean. After graduating university, Titus pushed towards his career in marine conservation and has led assessments in coral, seagrass and mangrove conservation working closely with communities, local governments and national agencies for a collaborative approach towards sustainability. Titus joined LAMAVE in 2019 and led the Palawan Whale Shark Research and Conservation Project studying their population demographics in the area. Currently focused on the study of deep sea megafauna in the Philippines, Titus aims to discover, study and protect the unexplored depths of the sea.

Alessandro Ponzo

Dr. Alessandro Ponzo is a veterinarian specialized in marine wildlife conservation. He is the co-founder of the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, an NGO dedicated to the conservation of marine megafauna in Southeast Asia. His work with LAMAVE focuses on designing and supervising research projects aimed to solve urgent conservation issues, spanning from marine turtle poaching and unsustainable fisheries to unregulated tourism practices and illegal wildlife trade.

Ale is a National Geographic Explorer and a Kinship Fellow. He is also the co-founder of the global Sea Turtle Rescue Alliance, and the Asia-Pacific Marine Turtle Genetic Working Group, both initiatives aimed at supporting the recovery of endangered populations of marine turtles in Asia.

Additional Information

Traditionally, deep water samples are collected with rosettes of bottles controlled by a mechanism controlled either from the ship or from onboard computers. They weight and drag of these structures requires to be lifted and controlled through a crane attached to the deck of a ship.

All these make deep water samplers unaccessible for small research groups and citizen scientists not connected with large research institutions and not able to access large multi-million dollars research vessels and expeditions.

The need for low cost tools to explore the deep ocean pushed us to develop the concept idea, and gather a team of experts to solve this challenge.

Project Backers

  • 5Backers
  • 102%Funded
  • $10,040Total Donations
  • $2,008.00Average Donation
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