Monitoring Coral Reef Conditions (including Coral Bleaching) in the Field

NOAA's Coral Reef Watch (CRW) program derives its online products and tools from satellite and modeled data. At this time, CRW does not have the resources to conduct in-water coral bleaching surveys. Instead, we rely on reports of coral reef conditions, especially mass coral bleaching, from partners, collaborators, and users around the world, both professionals and volunteers, to ground-truth our bleaching heat stress products and data.

The CORAL Reef Alliance provides a comprehensive list of on-site (in-water) coral reef monitoring programs from around the world. If you are considering starting a community-based, citizen science monitoring program for your local coral reef(s), consider consulting the list to learn more. The Nature Conservancy also offers advice on selecting a monitoring protocol, as part of its Reef Resilience Toolkit.

Below are examples of community-based, citizen science coral reef monitoring programs from around the globe, many of which currently contribute in-water data and observations to NOAA CRW. These links do not imply an endorsement of any particular monitoring program or protocol; they simply provide additional information for your consideration.

To learn more about how you can submit your in-water data and observations of coral bleaching/no bleaching to NOAA CRW, to assist with the calibration/validation of our satellite-based coral bleaching heat stress products and data, click here.

Example community-based, citizen science monitoring programs for coral reefs

-- Reef Check.

   -- Reef Check Malaysia.

   -- Reef Check Indonesia.

-- Coral Watch.

-- Florida Keys Coral Bleaching Early Warning Network (Florida Keys BleachWatch).

-- Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN) BleachWatch.

-- Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO or ECOMAR) Belize Coral Watch Program.

-- Hawai'i's Eyes of the Reef (EOR) Network.

-- Hawaiian Ko'a Card Monitoring Program.

-- Coastal Oceans Research and Development (CORDIO) Indian Ocean Coral Bleaching Network.

-- Philippines Coral Bleaching Watch.

-- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Eye on the Reef Program.

-- PADI Aware Foundation Adopt the Blue Network (open to any PADI Dive Center, Resort or Professional).

Additional resources to help identify & monitor coral bleaching, and to help differentiate between bleaching, disease, and other ecological impacts

-- Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) coral reef monitoring protocols.

-- CORAL Reef Alliance Coral Bleaching Toolkit & Comprehensive Guide.

-- Mission: Iconic Reefs Iconic Reef Guardians - Recreational Diver Coral Bleaching course.

-- UQx: Coral Reefs: Introduction to Challenges and Solutions.

-- The Nature Conservancy's Reef Resilience Network Coral Reef Resilience-Based Management online course.

-- Hawai'i's EOR Online Training (especially Modules 3 and 7).

-- Coral Watch Coral Health Chart.

-- Virgin Islands Coral Disease Advisory Committee – Coral Bleaching vs. Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD).

-- Florida DEP's Coral Bleaching & Disease fact sheet.