• Researchers with the Catlin Seaview Survey are examining photographs to understand reef health. Photo credit: Catlin Seaview Survey.Researchers with the Catlin Seaview Survey are examining photographs to understand reef health. Photo credit: Catlin Seaview Survey.

UQ marine researchers help to analyse reef health in global survey

Researchers at the University of Queensland are helping to analyse over 500,000 underwaters of the reed for the Catlin Seaview Survey.  The survey aims to establish the health of the reef and research ways to improve its health.

The survey has collected 360-degree underwater images from 20 countries and across 662km of coral reef, a task that took a total of 350 dive hours.  Each of the 500,000 images is GPS located so that marine scientists can map the entire reef accurately. The images will become part of the Global Reef Record – a unique coral reef ecosystem global database and online research tool.

UQ Global Change Institute’s Dr Manuel Gonzalez-Rivero said analysis of the images was crucial to understanding coral reef ecology and would inform science-based conservation recommendations and decisions.

He explained: “Our understanding of the natural world around us and our ability to protect it is greatly enhanced when we can share in its beauty up close and accurately monitor what is happening to it.”

He said cutting-edge technology such as automated image recognition software meant the images could be collected and accurately analysed 30-times faster than previously possible.  This means that a detailed picture of the health of the entire reef could be determined in as little as 12 months – a process of analysis that would have taken 30 years using traditional methods of collecting and analysis.

The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland is the leading scientific partner for the Catlin Seaview Survey, an internationally renowned research project sponsored by global insurer Catlin Group Limited and managed by Australian not-for-profit Underwater Earth.  Read more about the survey here.

If you would like to find out more about studying at the University of Queensland, or would like general information about studying programmes in Marine, Environment and Renewable Energy, contact one of the Study Options team.

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