CoralWatch In The Field
The aim of this activity is to monitor the health of corals using the Coral Health Chart. During a reef walk, snorkel or dive you will match the colour and type of randomly selected corals to the categories on the chart, record this with water temperature and site details and plot the results. Please submit your real data online.
Use CoralWatch while reefwalking, snorkeling or scuba diving.
During this activity you will spend time with each type of coral and observe what is taking place on, in and around the colonies as well as measuring coral health in the area. Ensure you wear appropriate safety equipment (sun protection, enclosed shoes or booties).
- Select an area of reef suitable for a reef walk or snorkel.
- Locate a coral colony, observe it for about five minutes and record:
- What type it is (branching, boulder, soft or plate)
- Lightest and darkest coral colour scores for the colony
- A sketch of the colony
- A list of any other marine organism that you observe on, in and around the coral
- Repeat this with colonies of the three other coral types (or as many types as you can find).
- Following the instructions on the Coral Health Chart, measure the health of at least 20 coral colonies in your reef area and record the data on the datasheet or slate. You can visit several areas to compare coral health between different zones on your reef.
Coral Health Chart • Slate with thermometer • Pencil • Viewing tube • Mask and snorkel • Computer • Internet
How to use the Coral Health Chart
- Choose a random coral.
- Look down at the coral and select the lightest area, avoiding the tips of branching corals.
- Hold the Colour Chart next to the selected area.
- Rotate the Chart until you find the closest colour match.
- Record the matching colour code along with coral type on the data sheet.
- Repeat steps 2 to 5 for the darkest area of the coral.
- Continue survey with other corals.
- When you finish, transcribe your collected data to the website data sheet & submit.
Survey methods include (depending on experience and location):
- Random survey - select corals randomly, such as every third fin kick.
- Quadrant or transect survey - select your corals by marking a square area or following a transect line. Make sure your markings have no affect on marine life in the area. Then assess corals within the quadrant or along the transect line.
- Easily identified corals - select corals that are easy to identify and return to on each dive.
PDF version of field activity
Match colour codes
Record the data on your slate
Use CoralWatch to take a closer look at the reefs!