Game-Changing Visual Record of the Great Barrier Reef

Image: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef



We are excited to be at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney this week, a landmark global forum on protected areas, held every ten years. As the world's most influential gathering of people involved in protected area management, it sets the global agenda for the following decade. We were invited by our partners IUCN to present at this event, and we had an exciting announcement to share.



High-Definition Database


On Friday 14 November we annouced that a complete visual and data record from our expeditions along the Great Barrier Reef is now available to anyone to use through the Catlin Global Reef Record. The Great Barrier Reef records, collected in collaboration with scientists from the Global Change Institute (GCI) at The University of Queensland, now include more than 100,000 images from 32 locations along the length of the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Site. The library of data and images is the most extensive published visual record of the Great Barrier Reef and includes 360-degree images, accurately GPS located. The work was funded by global insurance company Catlin Group Limited



Public engagement and scientific data


Through the imagery, we are revealing these underwater environments to a worldwide audience as well as providing important scientific information about the health of coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs are vulnerable to local stresses such as over-fishing and pollution, as well as climate change, making them some of the most fragile ecosystems in the ocean.  


The Catlin Global Reef Record is a first-of-its-kind global database and standardised online research tool for coral reef ecosystems and is an important tool for scientists, marine park managers and conservation policy makers.


To mark the publication of the full database, images have also been released through Street View in Google Maps. Featuring 20 reefs, ranging across the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef, they are available for anyone to access and explore online.



Re-Survey of 2012 Great Barrier Reef Sites


We also announced our first re-survey of areas included in our baseline survey. Supported by the Waitt Foundation, later this month (November 2014), the team will spend 14 days revisiting 11 reefs from Cairns to the far northern sections of the Great Barrier Reef. The team will document the impact of the recent Tropical Cyclone Ita to these reefs when it struck the region in April this year. In addition, the re-survey will provide a current record in advance of potential coral bleaching events that may occur during the southern hemisphere’s summer.