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Scientists create first-ever map of every coral reef in the Caribbean

If we want to protect our precious coral reefs from the effects of the climate crisis, then we need to know the exact locations where protective regulations and restoration efforts should be aimed. That’s why scientists have developed the first-ever map that visualizes every single coral reef in the Caribbean.

To create the map, scientists from the Caribbean division of the Nature Conservancy spent the last couple of years working with partners to stitch together 38,000 satellite images into one coherent map. Specifically, the nonprofit worked with a startup called Planet Lab that makes satellite images more affordable and accessible while providing expert insights to derive information from those satellite images.

“We want to make the data accessible, and understand with each of the governments we work with how we can infuse these products into their decision-making process,” said Steve Schill, lead scientist for the Caribbean division of the Nature Conservancy.

One of the amazing features of the map is that it shows the fine details of the reefs, such as the specific location of seagrass or rocks. The map is also available for anyone to download.

In the future, the goal is to advance the project behind the map in such a way that the world’s coral reefs are automatically mapped out and updated in real-time. With that information, governments would be able to see, for instance, if reefs have been damaged after a large storm. Thus far, data from the map has already been used to help the Dominican Republic know where to plant corals in a restoration effort.

This is just the latest in a string of stories we’ve published about efforts to save our oceans and the coral reefs within them. Just last week, we wrote about a panel of 14 nations that have come together to create a plan that will help achieve a “sustainable ocean economy” to safeguard oceans against exploitation.

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