Measuring reef health from space

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With compelling evidence that we have lost half of the world’s tropical coral reefs over the last few decades, there is an urgent need to understand their overall health. Without this basic information to use as a baseline, it is near impossible to mount a response to the so-called global reef crisis. The most straightforward method we have for monitoring reefs is conducting SCUBA diver surveys. However, this type of field work is logistically and financially challenging to execute on large scales, so developing a new method to monitor reefs remotely is key.

In attempt to find a solution, Anna Bakker combines the fields of remote sensing, computer science, and ecology to measure reef health from space. Recently, Anna published a paper in Coral Reefs, which utilized the Living Oceans Foundation’s Global Reef Expedition field dataset to build a model that can predict coral cover and other metrics of coral reef health using open-source satellite data.

Surveying the Reefs of Lana’i – by Air and by Sea

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As the sun begins to rise over the island ridges of Lana’i, Hawai’i, the drone lifts off from its landing pad on the beach and begins to fly a grid along the coast, imaging the nearshore coral reefs. The drone is being flown by Dr. Ved Chirayath from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science’s Aircraft Center for Earth Studies (ACES). Ved has pioneered a new approach to mapping reefs using drones equipped with fluid lensing technology. While this cutting-edge technology is capturing reefs by air, the need for in-water validation of those images and census of marine life is critical to understanding the status of this coral reef ecosystem. And that is where my expertise comes into play.

I have been surveying reefs all over the world for the past 10 years, and I am excited to be putting my skill set to use again in the field. Traditional underwater surveys of both the benthic and fish communities, combined with drone surveys, gives the most detailed information regarding the health of the coral reef ecosystem…

Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics

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The Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics project was proposed to help address the United Nations Ocean Decade Challenge to “understand the effects of multiple stressors on ocean ecosystems, and develop solutions to monitor, protect, manage and restore ecosystems and their biodiversity under changing environmental, social and climate conditions.” Our project focuses primarily on conserving tropical marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves, as well as incorporating measurable actions that communities can use to reach their conservation goals.

On the Global Reef Expedition, we saw that, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDC), there was not only a lack of scientific information, but also a lack of ocean literacy, particularly regarding local ecosystems. The Science Without Borders®: Conserving the Tropics project will leverage our existing scientific data and outreach programs, partnering with universities, non-profit organizations, governments, and communities to help raise awareness and improve conservation of these fragile marine ecosystems. We will be addressing not only the lack of scientific knowledge, but also use outreach programs to improve community wide ocean literacy to help influence behavior change…

Surveying Coral Reefs in Hawaii with ACES

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Earlier this year, the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation joined Dr. Ved Chirayath on a research mission to survey and map coral reefs in Lana’i, Hawaii. Chirayath leads the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science’s Aircraft Center for Earth Studies (ACES), and has pioneered a new approach to mapping reefs using drones equipped with fluid lensing technology.

Fluid lensing harnesses the unique power of waves to magnify and concentrate light on the seafloor, essentially allowing users to see through the water and map the seafloor in stunning detail…

Sharing our findings at the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS)

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation will be attending the International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) this week to share our findings from the Global Reef Expedition.  The 15th International Coral Reef Symposium is the primary international conference for coral …

The Bouknadel Statement

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is a proud member of the Foundation’s Dialogue, and signed on to the Bouknadel Statement to encourage a greater investment in marine science from the philanthropic community.  The Foundations Dialogue of the UN …

The Bouknadel Statement

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The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation was one of 17 philanthropic foundations that have signed on to The Bouknadel Statement. This joint statement was launched on the occasion of the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, to raise awareness for the need to increase investment in ocean science to support sustainable development.

The Foundations Dialogue of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development — an informal, global network of community, corporate, and private foundations that have chosen to work together to support the vision of the Ocean Decade — today launched The Bouknadel Statement affirming their commitment to investing in transformative ocean science. The Statement was launched during an event celebrating the Ocean Decade during the 2022 UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon.