SVII camera system surveying coral reefs.
SVII camera system surveying coral reefs.
18 March 2014

University of Queensland (UQ) coral reef researchers will visit the Philippines this week to assess the state of coral reefs over larger scales and in more precise detail than ever before.

The Catlin Seaview Survey, a major project of UQ’s Global Change Institute, is a pioneering scientific expedition revealing the impact of environmental change on the world’s coral reefs.

The researchers will use a specialised high-resolution panoramic camera system mounted on an underwater scooter to survey large stretches of reefs within the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

The Catlin Seaview Survey shallow reef team lead scientist Dr Benjamin Neal said the park was one of the best-preserved coral areas in the Coral Triangle; a region where 95 per cent of reefs have been affected by over fishing, destructive fishing practices, coastal development, pollution and climate change.

He said the camera system would generate a scientific baseline of information, allowing for a comparison of local reef health over time.

“We are working closely with researchers from the Tubbataha Reefs Management Office so that images and data collected by the project can be used to assist in science-driven conservation,” Dr Neal said.

The Catlin Seaview Survey will also take the innovative camera system to other key reef sites in the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Indonesia to create a region-wide survey.

The scientific data collected will be available in the Catlin Global Reef Record, a free online research tool.

“The Catlin Global Reef Record will serve as a data and analytical resource that scientists and reef managers around the world can have at their fingertips,” Dr Neal said.

Images in the record are scanned for coral species and combined with regional coral bleaching data to allow for worldwide analysis of coral reef health.

The open-access repository aims to encourage global collaboration between scientists, local and international management authorities and the public.

Dr Neal said the data was important for the future conservation and management of coral reefs in the Coral Triangle and worldwide.

The Catlin Seaview Survey is backed by funding from international insurer Catlin Group Limited.

Media: Catlin Seaview Survey Shallow Reef Scientist Dr Benjamin Neal, +61 421 727 846 or UQ Global Change Institute Project Manager Sara Naylor, +61 7 3443 3152,

Images of the Catlin Global Reef Record can be found here.

The Global Change Institute

The Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland, Australia, is an independent source of research, ideas and advice for addressing the challenges of global change. It advances discovery, creates solutions and advocates responses that meet the challenges presented by climate change, technological innovation and population change.

The Catlin Seaview Survey

The Catlin Seaview Survey is a pioneering scientific expedition revealing more than ever before the impact of environmental changes on the world’s coral reefs. It aims to significantly expand the global coral reef systems data available to scientists. The survey made world news in 2012 with its scientific study of the Great Barrier Reef. The team took more than 100,000 360-degree panoramic images at 32 locations along the entire length of the 2300km reef. The images are being used to create a scientific baseline study of the reef that can be used to monitor change. It will be available on the Google Maps street view.

About Catlin

Catlin Group Limited is a global specialty property/casualty insurer and reinsurer operating through six underwriting hubs: London/UK, Bermuda, the United States, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Canada.  The Catlin Seaview Survey is the second major scientific project Catlin has sponsored. The Catlin Arctic Survey (2009-2011) investigated the impact of environmental changes in the Arctic. Catlin believes that insurers must take a leading role in improving the understanding of potential changes to our environment, changes that could affect how risks are managed in the future.  Catlin’s contribution is to sponsor independent, impartial research that is freely distributed to the world’s scientific community.