Key members of the Catlin Seaview Survey team have gathered at the University of Queensland Research Station on Heron Island for an intensive period of training before they commence 2014's global survey work. The training will introduce our new marine biologists to the equipment and scientific protocol that is used in the field so they can effectively operate our underwater scooter-assisted SVII camera system, which is used to assess the state of coral reefs over larger scales and in more precise detail and rapid fashion than ever before.
The training is being led by our Chief Scientist Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the Global Change Institute, and Project Director Richard Vevers. Thankfully some intense tropical lows haven't halted the training schedule. Many of the PhD students are enjoying employment as the first Catlin Ocean's Scholars - a new Catlin initiative.
Once trained, the University of Queensland students, who hail from Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, will join the Catlin Seaview Survey and help to create a visual record of coral reefs from the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Indonesia, as part of a global mission to assess the factors driving change in coral reef health.
The Catlin Seaview Survey has already recorded areas of The Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea (2012), and thirteen different countries in the Caribbean (2013). The information is available to all in a free online research tool, the Catlin Global Reef Record, which encourages global collaboration between scientists, local and international management authorities and the general public.
Coral reefs are acutely sensitive to environmental change. This makes them a vital gauge for monitoring the current and future impacts of human activities. By studying the state of coral reefs, the Catlin Seaview Survey is contributing to the collection of vital data for the future conservation and management of coral reefs worldwide.
Following the training, the 2014 team are excited to commence survey work in March - the first location to be surveyed as part of the South East Asian campiagn will be the Philippines.