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NCCOS Research Project

Benthic Habitat Mapping of Coral Reefs in Florida, Caribbean, and the Pacific

This project began in January 1999 and is Ongoing

We are producing benthic seafloor habitat maps to help coastal managers assess, protect, and preserve the condition of coral reef ecosystems.

Why We Care
Coral reef ecosystems are enormously valuable culturally, ecologically, and economically, but they are declining because of human influences. Our ability to better understand, protect, and improve their condition relies on ongoing assessments, and mapping is an important component of those efforts. Maps provide not only past and present data on the condition of our coral reefs, they also reveal the effectiveness of coral reef conservation over time, which areas need further protection, and which need alternate management measures.

What We Are Doing
We are producing the benthic (seafloor) habitat maps using high-resolution satellite, LiDAR (light detection and ranging), and acoustic SONAR (sound navigation and ranging) imaging. Seafloor features are identified visually, and the resulting maps are made available to users in a digital format. We’re also making available all of the associated original and derived data compiled and used in the mapping products.

Next Steps
We have successfully mapped most of the U.S. shallow-water coral reef ecosystems and next will focus on mapping high-priority sites at finer spatial scales. Our efforts to map deeper water coral reef ecosystems using ship-based acoustic SONARS also continue.

Additional Resources

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Products, Datasets & Reports

Peer-Reviewed Publications

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NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

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