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World's Coral Reefs Now Fully Mapped

A new study led by researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland (UQ) has found that the planet has more coral reef area than previously believed.


Aerial view of a coral reef

Scientists have identified 134,364 square miles of shallow coral reefs at depths of up to 98 feet, according to Dr. Mitchell Lyons of the School of the Environment at UQ and the Allen Coral Atlas project. “This revises up our previous estimate of shallow reefs in the world’s oceans,” he says.


“Coral reefs possess a quarter of all marine life and contribute to the well-being and livelihoods of a billion people worldwide. Maps of ecosystems underpin many science and conservation activities, but until recently, there were no consistent high-resolution maps of the world’s coral reefs,” the authors of the paper wrote. “In this paper, we describe new global coral reef maps from the Allen Coral Atlas, detailing the underlying methodology and our new understanding of the global distribution of coral reefs.”


This is important because the detailed satellite mapping, which is readily available to all, will help with vital ecosystem conservation. The information will allow scientists, conservationists, and policymakers to better understand and manage reef systems.


“This is the first accurate depiction of the distribution and composition of the world’s coral reefs, with clear and consistent terminology,” Lyons said. “It’s more than just a map - it’s a tool for positive change for reefs and coastal and marine environments at large.”

 

Marine Treasure: Scientists have succeeded in mapping the largest deep-sea coral reef in the world, which runs hundreds of miles off the Atlantic coast of the United States. Read on...

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