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The Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) research team accompanied scientists from the Global Change Institute (GCI) of the University of Queensland, led by Dr. Emma Victoria Kennedy, to re-survey the corals in Tubbataha on 10-17 March 2018.

The GCI Team during their preparation.

The first Tubbataha survey by GCI was done in partnership with the XL Catlin Seaview Survey in 2014. It was part of a large-scale baseline survey of coral cover worldwide.  They also created underwater 360o images of the reefs, available for public viewing through Google Maps’ Street View feature.

The UQ-GCI and TMO team onboard the P/Y Atlantis Azores before leaving for Tubbataha Reefs.

This year’s survey is part of the global post-bleaching assessment of GCI to understand the changes in coral conditions caused by the rise in sea temperature from 2015 to 2016. The survey also aims to compare coral cover between 2014 and 2018.  The team utilized a custom-designed underwater vehicle and camera system that captured images of the reef every three seconds, enabling the survey of over 16km of coral reefs in the North and South Atolls, and the Jessie Beazley Reef.

Ms. Kristen Brown from GCI operating the propelled camera system.

GCI was established in the University of Queensland, Australia, and is mandated to work towards addressing climate change impact, technological innovation, and population growth through scientific research.