Coral Reef Photo Monitoring in the Great Barrier Reef


Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea

Program Overview

The Coral Sea Foundation collaborates with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Sea Women of Melanesia on the development of the ReefCloud.Ai artificial intelligence system for analyzing and sharing reef survey imagery. This project has collected imagery at multiple sites on the Great Barrier Reef, and the team is keen to extend the geographic extent of the survey network. Visiting yachts, their crew, and guests can make valuable contributions to this project if they have suitable underwater cameras and can follow the camera survey methods outlined in the Reef Survey Training Manual. The team can remotely train crew and guests to perform the monitoring method as well. Images can be collected from pre-existing sites or from new sites on the Great Barrier Reef and in the Coral Sea.


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park contains 3000 coral reefs that are undergoing frequent and rapid changes. High-quality monitoring data is essential to understand the overall condition of the reef, yet government institutions are only able to regularly survey about 20% of the Marine Park in any given year. Citizen science contributions of monitoring data from reefs outside the major institutional monitoring programs play an important part in enhancing the overall understanding of the Great Barrier Reef and its condition, and modern technologies such as underwater cameras and ReefCloud.Ai allows those citizen science contributions to be more accurate than ever before.

Data Impact

The goals of this research are to extend the reef monitoring network to reefs outside the current institutional monitoring programs, collect and share data on reef condition, support the development of citizen science reef monitoring protocols that deliver accurate information, and leverage the power of A.I. to significantly speed up the image analysis process to more quickly monitor these crucial yet rapidly deteriorating ecosystems. ReefCloud is a publicly accessible digital online platform that helps scientists and monitoring teams around the world store, analyze and share results from coral reef photo monitoring activities.


After 7 years of research in the Bahamas, this project is now expanding to the more remote islands of The Bahamas, primarily focusing on the Northern Exuma's near Highbourne Cay. The primary objective for this mission is to tag sharks around the remote islands that will share valuable data through an acoustic receiver. Sharks will be safely targeted and measured in the water. Biological samples will be taken to contribute to ongoing projects on shark ecology and biology. Sharks will then be tagged with a small ID tag, a tracking tag, and an acoustic transmitter.

How to Participate

Interested Citizen Scientists traveling through the Great Barrier Reef or Coral Sea should reach out to SeaKeepers' South Pacific Director at [email protected] to receive the ReefCloud.Ai methods guide. This guide details how to collect reef monitoring imagery with underwater cameras to record coral abundance and reef condition. These images will then be submitted to ReefCloud for scientists to process them.

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