08 January 2015

A Great Leap towards Mapping the World’s Coral Reefs

Photo from Catlin Seaview Survey

Climate change has drastically changed how we view today’s marine environment. It would not be surprising at all that coral reefs are constantly threatened to be extinct after a century or earlier [1]. Rightfully so, a team of innovative scientists are determined to race and change the tides.

Catlin Seaview Survery, a pioneering scientific expedition, aims to create a dynamic and reliable baseline record on the state of coral reef ecosystems today. Equipped with an automated SVII camera, a diver can capture 360-degree high resolution panoramic shots every three seconds at a speed of 4 km/h [1]. Using a highly advanced image recognition software, the myriad of GPS-located images can then be stitched together to form a 3D structure of coral reefs. What is more fascinating is that they can be readily accessed at Catlin Global Reef Record [2,3]. In turn, this may essentially empower scientists, policy makers and the public in general to monitor changes on reef ecosystems over time, find solutions on how to better protect them, and make informed decisions.

The project commenced in 2012 in the Great Barrier Reef. As the first project was a success, it has gone global and laid eyes on surveying the waters of Southeast Asia in 2014 [2]. Hopefully more surveying will be done in the successive years to consistently monitor the health of our coral reefs and understand its implications.

To know more about corals, visit SeaLifeBase.

[1] Euro news (2015) Mapping the oceans’ coral reefs to try and save them from extinction. http://www.euronews.com/2014/12/03/mapping-the-oceans-coral-reefs-to-try-and-save-them-from-extinction/ [Accessed 1/4/2015].

[2] Catlin Seaview Survey (2014) About the Catlin Seaview Survey. http://catlinseaviewsurvey.com/about/ [Accessed 1/4/2015].

[3] Catlin Seaview Survey (2014). The science of the Catlin Seaview Survey. http://catlinseaviewsurvey.com/science/ [Accessed 1/4/2015].

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