Scientific Surveys

We conduct scientific surveys on coral reefs to determine the health and resilience of the reef. At each site we bring a full team of scientific divers to conduct these surveys to get the most scientifically accurate data possible. This helps governments, environmental managers, and local residents gain a better understanding of their local coral reefs so they can better manage and protect them.Coral Reef Scientific Surveys

In order to get a complete picture of reef health scientists must survey the entire aquatic ecosystem, rather than look at just one plant or animal. We conduct coral surveys, bottom or benthic surveys, and fish surveys at every reef that we visit.

Types of Scientific Surveys


The coral survey consists of recording the size, species and health of every coral along a transect, allowing for an accurate assessment of the coral community on each reef.


The benthic survey involves noting what is on the bottom of the reef every few meters to determine how much space each organism takes up on the reef bottom.


Fish surveys are conducted in a similar fashion, with divers logging the size, species and number of all fish they see in front of them. This lets us know how healthy the fish community is and what types of fish are interacting with the reef. We repeat all of these science surveys at several depths and at several sites as we move from island to island conducting our ocean research.Coral Surveys, Benthic Surveys, and Fish Surveys

After all of the data is collected and analyzed, we write it up and give it to the interested parties in every country that we visit. By conducting the same scientific surveys using the same methods on every dive we are able to compare our observations form one site to another. This lets us see the differences in reef health and resilience between sites, reefs, islands and even countries.

Related Publications:

  • 2016

    Foraging mode of the grey reef shark, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, under two different scenarios

    This article on the foraging mode of the gray reef shark published in Coral Reefs journal was a result of research conducted by William Robbins and Capt. Phil Renaud during the Global Reef Expedition missions to French Polynesia. Foraging mode of the grey …

  • 2016

    Sharks Take a Bite

    Back in the summer of 2013, while conducting the Global Reef Expedition mission to French Polynesia, a team of cinematographers and researchers from Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation were documenting shark feeding without the use of bait or other attractants. This article …

  • 2016

    Earth Matters January Puzzler: Palau's Coral Reefs

    Each month, NASA Earth Observatory’s Earth Matters blog offers a puzzling satellite image for its readers to ‘solve’… or weigh in on as to what part of the earth the satellite image depicts and why it is of interest.  The January …

  • 2016

    El Niño’s warmth devastates reefs worldwide

    This article on how El Niño’s warmth devastates reefs worldwide, published in Science magazine, references Living Oceans Foundation Coral Reef Ecologist Alex Dempsey and focuses on the impact to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) which the Foundation surveyed as part of …

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