An estimated 50 percent of coral reefs worldwide have been lost in the past 50 years, with 75 percent of coral reefs today threatened by overfishing, pollution, unsustainable coastal development, ocean acidification, and ocean warming. Many countries did not have the resources required to regularly measure the health of their coral reef ecosystems, and without this information, implementing coastal management strategies of coral reefs can be extremely difficult.
The Catlin Global Reef Record is an initiative of the non-for-profit, Underwater Earth. With the launch of the Catlin Global Reef Record, a free online resource is made accessible to scientific researchers or any visitors to explore approximately 180,000 panoramic underwater coral reef images with another 200,000 panoramas expected by late 2014. The images in the Record were scanned for coral species and automatically annotated using computer vision algorithms. Additional environmental data from satellites, such as ocean temperature, as well as information on regional coral bleaching activity, is included to allow for advanced analysis of worldwide reef health. By the end of 2014, about 300 reef locations will have been recorded, including the Great Barrier Reef, 10 countries in the greater Caribbean region, and the Coral Triangle region. It is such a game-changing tool to reverse the downward trend in the condition of coral reefs that are now available to the public.