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Virtual Reef Surveys

Welcome to Citizen Science@ReefQuest

Are you ready to collect real scientific data and help assess coral reefs? Scientists need your help!  With the Virtual Reef we have created the ultimate way of documenting the conditions of a reef. With our Virtual Reef Surveys you now have the opportunity to collect data from the Virtual Reef so our systems can perform analysis and ultimately create consolidated data, a sort of "reef fingerprint" documenting reef conditions across a variety of indicators. As the Virtual Reef expands to other locations, and is updated with multi-year transects, we will have an opportunity to compare reefs in different locations, as well as over time. This site was created in support of community-based monitoring programs coordinated by the Coral Reef Alliance, CoralWatchHawai‘i Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Digital BusProject S.E.A.-Link, Eyes of the Reef, NOAA, ReefBase and other  organizations and Government agencies.


Why you? 

As a volunteer, you can make a difference by participating in community-based monitoring efforts! Informed volunteer networks can serve as the "eyes and ears" for reef managers and will often provide the first indications of changes to a reef. In addition to the value of early detection, it is important to maintain ongoing monitoring efforts to compile data and document resource conditions. Our Virtual Reef provides you with an opportunity to engage in some of this work regardless of where you are located geographically, and without needing to get in the water, through the internet. 

Our team has developed this online tool to support, enhance, and widen the scope of existing on-site monitoring efforts. By using this resource and entering your own data, you can help provide information that is of high value to local resource management.

Most analysis we are  performing on the virtual reef is statistical in nature. In general our surveys are designed so that the greater number of data points the smaller is the statistical error. This means that with greater number of you entering data,  the survey results become more accurate and more useful. Join us and have fun using the Virtual Reef!


Visualize the results

By being one of our citizen scientists you not only help collect data, but you have access to real-time visualization of the results being entered by you and thousands of others from all over the world. Using the power of the internet you can watch the reef fingerprint being built as more and more data is entered. 



You might be located near some of our survey sites. You have the opportunity to join real life citizen science opportunities in the water. For Hawaii, see the Coral Reef Montoring Portal for links to many on-going surveys. Our Virtual Reef surveys are modeled after many of these real surveys. You can use the virtual reef as a first training tool prior to your in-the-water experience.  


ReefQuest Survey Protocols

It is important that you read and understand the survey protocols BEFORE entering any data into our surveys. See below links to our survey protocols:


Live Coral Cover & Coral Types Survey Protocol

Modified CoralWatch Bleaching Protocol

Algae Cover and Types Protocol (under development)

Coral Disease Survey (under development)


Visualize the Results

An interesting aspect of our Virtual Reef surveys is that everyone can see the results of our analysis in real time. You can view the reef fingerprint with real-time updates as new data comes in. You can also obtain copies of the entire data base to run your own analysis simply by emailing us. 


Kahekili Fingerprint Visualization



Go to the Virtual Reef Surveys


Live Coral Cover Survey

Coral Types Survey

CoralWatch Coral Color Survey

Algae Cover and Types Survey (under development)

Coral Disease Survey (under development)




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