A catalogue of high-definition images giving a comprehensive insight into the condition of seabeds around the world would help reverse the rapid decline of the world’s coral reefs. Just such an online catalogue, is now being compiled. It follows an insurance-company-sponsored survey which paid for underwater exploration with special cameras over the past two years.
“It’s really important that countries that are often economically poor have access to really good measurements of the state of their reef systems. That just comes down to the fact that many of those countries are absolutely dependent on tourism, seafood, and the coastal protection provided by coral reefs,” said the project’s chief scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.
Coral reefs are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, so it is hoped that the newly-launched global database – freely available on line to both the scientific community and the general public – will lead to a greater understanding of the changes to reefs 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 but between one third and one half of corals around the world have been lost in the last 50 years.
“Protecting the oceans is not just about that day at the beach. It’s about the oxygen we breathe. The ocean absorbs an enormous amount of heat and regulates our climate and so when we look at the protein coming from the ocean, we’ve got over a billion people depending on protein from seafood. Without it they have no other sources,” said Hoegh-Guldberg.
In all around 150 kilometers of reef, with more than 100,000 panoramic images, have been captured.