Revealing our oceans through the Catlin Global Reef Record

Image: Introducing


The Catlin Global Reef Record is a first-of-its-kind global database and online standardized research tool relating to major coral reef ecosystems. The Catlin Global Reef Record will enable scientists around the world to collaborate on understanding changes to coral reefs and related marine environments as a result of over-exploitation, pollution and climate change. It is estimated that 500 million people globally depend on coral reefs for food and income and between one third and one half of corals around the world have been lost in the last 50 years. 

Freely available to the scientific community and public at large, the Catlin Global Reef Record features hundreds of thousands of 360-degree panoramic images along with numerous other additional scientific data sets. The groundbreaking visuals and data for the Catlin Global Reef Record have been collected by the Catlin Seaview Survey team during expeditions of the Great Barrier Reef, coral reefs across the Caribbean and our current expedition to Bermuda, which launched on September 18.


Working with the best scientific collaborators to further the data

Beyond the Catlin Seaview Survey images and data, the Catlin Global Reef Record also incorporates critical data and research methods on coral reef health from a host of scientific collaborators to establish a much-needed common methodology in research and measurement. These key collaborators include:

The University of Queensland - Global Change Institute (GCI) is focused on bringing together multidisciplinary expertise to contribute solutions to major global challenges in areas such as climate change, oceans, food security and renewable energy technology. Global projects such as the Catlin Seaview Survey, building one of Australia’s first zero carbon buildings and some of Australia’s largest solar energy fields typify the thought leadership associated with the Global Change Institute and its partners. GCI scientists are leading the gathering of the scientific data around the world, and the analysis of that data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is incorporating its Coral Reef Watch data across the Catlin Global Reef Record. Specifically, all reefs recorded by the Catlin Seaview Survey are being set up as a virtual station, which is like having a temperature sensor in the water next to a reef, but it is completely based on satellite remote sensing measurements. Users can access up-to-date maps showing global sea surface temperatures, thermal stress and coral bleaching alerts, automated email systems will allow scientists and park managers to immediately become aware when ocean temperatures grow dangerously high for corals. 

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego scientist, David Kline, is working with GCI to develop autonomous assessments of the hundreds of thousands of panoramic images taken of the reefs using their sophisticated semi-automated image recognition software to analyse the per cent coverage of the main benthic organisms (e.g. corals, algae, other invertebrates) in the photographs. 

The World Resources Institute is incorporating data and findings from its seminal “Reefs at Risk” reports.


What's next for the Catlin Global Reef Record

By hosting standardized scientific data across important coral reef regions worldwide, the Catlin Global Reef Record will set a benchmark in coral reef science that will support and host follow-up monitoring programs. Within the next two years, the Catlin Global Reef Record will also include Catlin Seaview Survey baseline visuals and data from additional major coral reef regions of Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, and the Pacific in addition to the surveys already completed in Australia and the Atlantic Region (Bermuda and Caribbean). Over time, the Catlin Global Reef Record will also seek to expand to other reef related datasets, becoming the central resource for data regarding the world's most biologically diverse yet highly threatened ecosystems.