Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation will launch a coral reef survey in the Solomon Islands next month.
Working in conjunction with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources, Catlin Seaview Survey, University of Queensland, and Oceanswatch Foundation will be surveying reefs in the Santa Cruz Islands, Sikaiana Islands, Arnavon Islands and New Georgia Islands.
This research contains several components. The first focus of the research is to collect detailed information about what lives on the reefs.
The team of scientists will identify and record population information of coral, reef fishes, algal and invertebrates, as well as other organisms.
They will also take note of the health of these communities.
Additional surveys will focus on commercially important reef fishes and invertebrates, such as groupers, sea cucumbers, and crustaceans.
The Catlin Seaview Survey team will acquire high-resolution 360- degree panoramic imagery of the reefs. These images will be stitched together to create a virtual reef.
Catlin Seaview Survey, is a project designed and created by Underwater Earth, a not-for-profit agency focused on the communication of ocean issues.
An additional focus of the research is to make high resolution habitat maps of shallow marine areas around the islands.
During the research mission the Living Oceans Foundation will take note of what is on the bottom of the sea, as well as taking note of the depth.
This data will be combined with high resolution satellite imagery to create extremely detailed habitat maps.
The final focus of the research is to measure what is stressing the coral and how resilient the coral is to those stresses. The research will look in particular at coral health, coral diseases, and ocean acidification.
The maps and other data will be incorporated into a GIS database containing geo-referenced satellite imagery, depth maps, and habitat mapping and photographs.
Upon completion the GIS database, scientific reports, and various other products (including a hard copy Atlas of the reef systems examined) will be provided to local communities, government and non-government agencies, and relevant stakeholders in the region.
This information can directly help with ongoing management and conservation of the Solomon Islands’ coral reefs.
Additional outreach and educational materials will be developed including at least one short film documenting the research and the findings for use by local communities, schools, and other stakeholders.
The research is part of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation’s five-year Global Reef Expedition, a mission to survey coral reefs around the world.
The Foundation has recently completed similar research on the Great Barrier Reef, in Tonga, Fiji, The Cook Islands, and New Caledonia.