Abstract: In order to achieve conservation and management goals, recent coral reef research has reduced the emphasis on understanding the dynamics of the individual reef whilst increasing the role of the context that surrounds individuals. Unfortunately the collection of data at this increased scale has been hampered by cost and technical advancements and subsequently research questions have been limited to correlations with inappropriately scaled remote sensed data or limited survey tools. Additionally the 2 dimensional nature of the imagery has clear limitations in the 3D environment of the reef. Here we show recent acquisitions of imagery of coral reefs and islands that present a major advancement for coral reef research. Using a small plane with a specially designed double camera mount we captured overlapping Red, Green, Blue and Infrared images at 5 and 10cm resolution. Given the tides, wind, clouds and solar angle the opportunities to capture quality images are always small. The flexibility and functionality of the plane ensures that images were captured at optimal occasions and at a resolution that suits the research methods. The final product is mosaicked ortho-rectified RGB and IR images with a derived digital elevation model. At this resolution fine scale underwater structural features can be accurately described for large sections of coral reef. The geospatial accuracy of the products facilitates the integration with survey and other datasets. We also discuss limitations with depth, water-air interface and weather constraints with future directions.
Speaker: Stuart Kininmonth completed his Phd at the University of Queensland with an emphasis on coral reef network ecology. He subsequently worked for the University of Tasmania, James Cook University and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on a range of global and regional marine matters. In late 2012 Stuart moved to Sweden to research the complicated environment of socio-ecological systems with the Stockholm University. As Assistant Professor, Stuart developed new approaches to model the Baltic Sea fisheries, the artisanal fisheries of Uganda and the global fisheries of the world. Understanding how the likelihood of an event, like fishing, can influence the spatial observations of fish abundance is a key aspect of Stuart’s current research interests. Stuart now focuses on applying this knowledge in socio-ecological systems around the world.