Coral Health Chart
The colour charts are based on the actual colours of bleached and healthy corals. Each colour square corresponds to a concentration of symbionts contained in the coral tissue. The concentration of symbionts is directly linked to the health of the coral. All you have to do is match the colour of the coral with one of the colours in the coral health monitoring chart. You then record the matching colour codes, along with coral type (species if possible), on the website data sheet.
How to use the Coral Health Chart
The hues on the chart represent the most common coloured corals, and help our eyes to make an accurate match. The brightness of the colours ranging from 1 to 6 are the same on every side of the chart.
The Coral Health Chart uses four coral types to classify corals. 'Branching' refers to any branching coral such as Acropora species. 'Boulder' refers to any massive or rounded corals such as some Platygyra and Porites species. 'Plate' refers to any coral that forms a plate-like formation such as tabular Acropora species, and the 'soft' category refers to corals lacking a hard skeleton, such as the Xenia species.
Due to the dynamic nature of coral morphology, these categories are not strict, as there are many forms that do not fit into one of these categories. Our aim is to keep the chart and survey as simple as possible, so if you’re experiencing difficulties when classifying your corals, please simply choose the closest coral type.
Walking or snorkelling; studying species at the surface
If snorkelling or walking alongside the coral, ensure all movements avoid contact with live coral. The Chart may be used with any living coral, remembering to avoid blue-purple varieties.
Diving: Determining symbiont density at depthIf the chart is being used for SCUBA surveys below five meters (15 feet) please use a flashlight or torch to illuminate both the chart and coral. Illumination is necessary to counter-act the changing spectral properties of water with depth. Be an AWARE diver. Be sure to secure your equipment, be properly weighted, maintain neutral buoyancy and move slowly through the water. Dive carefully to avoid any contact with the reef as reefs are extremely fragile to even the slightest touch.
Tips for using the Chart
There is no strict protocol that you must follow when using the Coral Health Chart. We encourage you to develop your own methodology and incorporate the Chart to suit your needs, be it research, education, or mere curiosity. Use the Chart to measure coral bleaching while on a relaxing dive, to regularly monitor corals along permanent transects for a science project, or simply to assess the current status of your local reef. Please let us know what you are doing with the Charts! Please remember to enter your data onto the website. Alternatively please email or post it to us and we will enter it on your behalf.
Your analysis will be enhanced if you're able to collect data all year-round and hence determine a baseline for your reef.