International Coral Reef Symposium 2012 – Cairns, Australia – Thoughts from Day 3
Starting in 2011 and continuing through 2016 the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is conducting a global expedition to explore and document the conditions of remote reefs around the world. The purpose, according to Living Oceans GIS analyst Amanda Williams, is “to characterize remote coral reef ecosystems around the world in order to both map habitat status and assist managers with identifying resilient reef locations.”
The expedition, which is being conducted from the well-appointed 219 foot research ship the Golden Shadow, began in the Bahamas and the Caribbean, is scheduled to proceed through the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, and ultimately conclude its remarkable journey in the Red Sea. Throughout its worldwide travels the ship is stopping at remote reef locations, where scientists are measuring important ecological parameters to document reef composition and health.
Each stop along the tour is coordinated with local partners and conducted using specific management objectives in mind. Data is collected using snorkeling, scuba diving, and other research techniques that allow scientists direct access to the complex underwater reef environment. This same field data is also being integrated with high resolution satellite imagery to generate informative new habitat maps.
The intent of the expedition is not only to provide comprehensive assessments of select coral reefs throughout the world, but also to collectively use the gathered information to answer important questions for coral reef science, preservation and management. By documenting the conditions on these remote reefs, which are some of the healthiest in the world, scientists aim to enhance our overall understanding of coral reefs and improve conservation efforts. The Global Reef Expedition and its accomplishments can be followed online at www.globalreefexpedition.org.