We produce high-resolution coral reef habitat maps of previously unmapped, remote coral reef systems around the world. The maps we create are a product of extensive scientific research. We use a process that involves satellite imagery combined with a scientific diver’s inspection of the sea bed, called ground-truthing, to create extremely detailed maps that show the composition of the sea floor which can be made of sand, rubble, live coral or seagrass among other categories. These habitat maps are entered into a GIS so that they can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.
The GIS also contains a depth layer, some geo-referenced video layers to allow a virtual diver to explore a precise underwater location on the earths surface, and a variety of tools and analytics useful for understanding the composition of a given area.
We do this because the world’s coral reefs are in crisis. Benthic habitat maps are an essential tool in coral reef conservation, providing a snapshot of reefs which scientists and managers can use to track changes in reef composition and structure over time. All the maps we produce from our field research and for the Global Reef Expedition are available to view and download on our website and can be used for scientific analyses, education, and management. We also offer use of the data that contributed to the maps.
The production of these maps are made possible by the generous support of Prince Khaled bin Sultan, who won the prestigious Peter Benchley Award for this work exploring and creating the first detailed maps of some of the world’s most remote coral reef ecosystems.
World Reef Map
Our World Reef Map is a global, online, interactive map that allows users to explore all of the coral reefs we have ever surveyed and mapped. This award-winning map is the result of years of work by an extended team of dedicated scientists and many months of field research in remote regions of the world. The Foundation has made these coral reef habitat maps available to the public in this online platform, and the GIS data that this map is built upon is available for governments and conservation organizations to download and use in their efforts to protect and conserve coral reefs.
Bahamas Web Map
Our Bahamas Web Map was created to support the design of marine protected areas in The Bahamas. In addition to the benthic habitat maps we created for Hogsty Reef, Cay Sal Bank and the Inaguas on the Global Reef Expedition, this interactive map includes data layers on biodiversity, fish habitat, and the impacts of hurricanes and climate change. The Bahamas Web Map is currently being used to design a sustainable network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in The Bahamas.
Our Atlases contain detailed habitat maps along with a summary of our findings on the health and resiliency of coral reefs in a region. We publish an Atlas as the final product of our coral reef research in a region. Hard copies are distributed to our partners, government officials, local leaders, and local conservation organizations. Digital versions of our Atlases are available on our website.
Underwater Street View
We invited XL Catlin Seaview Survey to join us on the Global Reef Expedition in the Solomon Islands to use their custom underwater camera to take stunning 360 degree imagery of the reefs. The virtual dive they created with footage of Marovo Lagoon – the largest saltwater lagoon on the planet – is now available for anyone to explore on Google Street View.
This past World Oceans Day we released 360⁰ Solomon, a film about our partnership with XL Catlin Seaview Survey that shows how we collected imagery and data of coral reefs in the Solomon Islands.