What is CoralWatch?
CoralWatch is an organisation built on a research project at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. CoralWatch uses the Coral Health Chart as a simple, non-invasive method for the monitoring of coral bleaching, and assessment of coral health. The accuracy and efficacy of the CoralWatch protocol was published in Coral Reefs. In the field, users simply compare colors of corals with colors on the chart and record matching codes. ReefQuest has adopted this protocol for use with our Virtual Reef.
There are, however a few differences if you use the CoralWatch protocol with the Virtual Reef online: first of all, for the ReefQuest Virtual Reef we have created a Modified CoralWatch Coral Health Chart, which utilizes a coral type classification that has been adapted for Hawaiian coral types. Coral in Hawaii is different from any other parts of the world, with unique taxonomy. For this reason, data collected using the ReefQuest Virtual Reef should be entered using the online data entry form below only.
What is coral bleaching?
Coral bleaching is the whitening of coral due to a loss of symbiotic algae living within the coral tissue. In healthy coral, algae supplies energy and provides color. During bleaching events, coral expels the algae from their tissue which changes the colour of the coral. As coral expels more algae the coral becomes lighter in color.
Bleaching events in Hawaii have not been as severe as those in other parts of the world, such as on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. However, CoralWatch allows the creation of profiles of color distribution that can be studied from year to year for trends and changes. So this data becomes part of the "reef fingerprint" that is an indicator of overall coral reef health and developing stressors.
Before you start
You should have reviewed the ReefQuest Modified CoralWatch Protocol in our knowledge base where you will have the opportunity to learn how to use and download the ReefQuest Modified CoralWatch Coral Health Card, as well as fine tune the data collection methodology. Once you have collected your data, you can enter it using the online form below directly into our database. You can visualize the resulting "reef fingerprint" on the the ReefQuest Visualize page. Your new data will generally be live and added to the database within 60 minutes of your submission.