Coral reef photo from Shutterstock

Overall, the world has already lost 40% of its corals due to pollution, climate change, and overfishing. Recently the Catlin Seaview Survey found that reefs in the Caribbean have declined by an alarming 80%, creating problems for the marine ecosystem as well as the local community, which depends on tourism and natural resources to survive. The Catlin project, which commenced in September of 2012, hopes to paint a more accurate picture of how the globe’s coral reefs are faring and create a “baseline” to help future scientists work towards conservation.

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The Caitlin Seaview Survey began in the Great Barrier Reef, and it will also be studying areas in Belize, Mexico, Anguilla, Barbuda, St Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Florida and Bermuda.The scientists will collect data to further understanding about the state of the world’s coral habitats. They plan to use both direct observation methods and satellite images to complete their mission. Shallow and deep reefs will be analyzed, and the information will be processed by the SCRIPPS Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California. The team is led by Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland.

“It is not only important that scientists have access to this valuable data, but companies such as ours must understand the impact that significant changes to our environment will have on local economies.” said Stephen Catlin, chief executive of the Catlin Group.

Many of these places have experienced a combination of challenges, including bleaching from warming and increasingly acidic seas due to climate change, destructive fishing practices, and pollution. Coral reefs act as “canaries in the coal mine” for much of the world’s aquatic ecosystems, and a more detailed understanding of what is contributing to their decline can help those trying to save the vital habitats.

+ Catlin Seaview Survey

Via The Guardian

Images via the Catlin Seaview Survey