Currently there is no comprehensive map of all the vast and diverse habitats for the whole Great Barrier Reef. Perhaps not surprising when the reef spans 2,300 kilometres, is made up of over 3000 individual reefs, and is located up to 2,000 metres underwater! The ultimate vision of this project is to develop one contiguous baseline map for the whole of the Great Barrier Reef. This study builds on the pilot study for 20 reefs in the Capricorn Bunker group, which was then adapted and applied to 237 reefs in the Cairns Management Region and hoping to gain momentum to map more reefs. The approach resulted in detailed maps for the shallow reefs (< 20 m) using pan sharpened (15 m x 15 m)  sea floor reflectance Landsat OLI image mosaic and image derived water depth as a basis, to create wave climate model, slopes, geomorphological zones (reef slope, reef crest, reef flat, lagoon, and island), bottom type for reef top (e.g. coral, algae, sand, rock) and predicted dominant coral type (e.g. plate, branching, or massive/encrusting). The project combines field data, remote sensing imagery, physical attributes, object based analysis and eco-geomorphical modelling. The results of this project will contribute to a bigger project which will assess a management tool for mapping resilience.

Roelfsema, C., Kovacs, E., Ortiz, J.C., Wolff, N.H., Callaghan, D., Wettle, M., Ronan, M., Hamylton, S.M., Mumby, P.J., & Phinn, S. (2018). Coral reef habitat mapping: A combination of object-based image analysis and ecological modelling. Remote Sensing of Environment, 208, 27-41



Dr Chris Roelfsema from the University of Queensland shows us how he maps and studies the Great Barrier Reef.


Project Details

Location: Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Researchers and Students: Chris Roelfsema, Eva Kovacs, Karlo Hock, Yves Marie, Juan Carlos Ortiz, David Callaghan, Stuart Phinn, and Peter Mumby. 

Funding agency: Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Timeframe: 2016-2017