Hawaii & Alaska
Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylinders) with damselfish (Credit: NOAA)

HI - Scientists Are Using High Tech Aerial Surveillance to Study Coral Reefs

Following the latest mass coral bleaching event in Hawaiian waters last fall, the Department of Land and Natural Resources is now using an equipment rich, aerial platform to map and access the health of reefs along the more than 700 miles of shoreline in the Main Hawaiian Islands.

Operated by the Arizona State University (ASU) Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, a twin-engine turbo prop aircraft is currently crisscrossing the state, creating an in-depth picture of reefs.

“We’re looking for a net change in live coral cover on reefs. Our airborne observatory has unique capabilities that allows us to see through seawater to a depth of 70 feet,” the program’s director, Dr. Greg Asner, said in a press release.

“What we want to see is where there’s live coral on the seafloor, where there’s dead coral, where there’s algae, the depth of the water, and 3D imaging of fish habitat.”

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