Largest collection of coral reef maps ever made

ScienceDaily | 4/23/2019 | Staff
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The maps, published today in the journal Coral Reefs, are the result of a 10-year Global Reef Expedition by scientists for the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. The expedition traveled to over 1,000 remote coral reefs in 15 countries, mapping and surveying the reefs down to a one-square meter scale to better understand their health and resiliency. Many of the reefs visited on the expedition had never been studied before.

The high-resolution coral reef maps contain information on shallow water marine habitat such as fore and back reefs as well as information on the size of seagrass beds and mangrove forests for key locations visited on the expedition. All of these coastal habitats are key components of tropical coastal ecosystems and help to filter water, protect the coast from storms, and provide key nursery habitat for commercial and subsistence fisheries. They also face increasing threats from coastal development, overfishing, and climate change.

Model - Reef - Marine - Habitats - Scientists

To develop the new model to accurately map coral reef and other tropical shallow-water marine habitats, scientists took data collected from extensive SCUBA surveys conducted on the Global Reef Expedition and extrapolate that information across the entire reef using ultra-high-resolution satellite imagery. By comparing the maps with video footage from cameras dropped at precise coordinates along the reef, the scientists were able to verify the accuracy of their new mapping method.

"In order to conserve something, it's imperative to know where it is located and how much of it you have," said Sam Purkis, professor and chair of the UM Rosenstiel School Department of Marine Geosciences. "Developing such an understanding for coral reefs is especially challenging because they are submerged underwater and therefore obscured from casual view. With this study, we demonstrate the potential to use satellite images to make coral reef maps at global scale."

Scientists - Way

Scientists now have a way...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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