This year marks the International Year of the Reef, an effort by the International Coral Reef Initiative to raise awareness about the loss of coral reefs and associated ecosystems. Ten years ago a similar effort involved 225 organizations in 50 countries in scientific research and surveys, leading to a number of conservation policy initiatives.
Like the ongoing International Polar Year, this effort involves mapping. An article in Hydro International outlines a reef mapping expedition in Bonaire that is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This group is using three Gavia Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to map the coral reefs around this Caribbean island. The Bonaire expedition aims to collect data all around the island to a depth of 200 meters. The AUV sensor payload includes the GeoSwath sonar instrument to survey areas that are difficult to access via boat or diver.
Among this year’s objectives are to:
- Strengthen awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems
- Improve understanding of the critical threats to coral reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats
- Generate urgent action at all levels to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.
Visit the NOAA website for a more detailed accounting of the Bonaire mapping mission, including a slideshow complete with maps and photos.