Coastal News

AIMS Reef Monitoring Technology to be Used in the Philippines

Innovative AIMS-developed coral reef monitoring technology is being adopted in the Philippines.

AIMS scientists and technologists introduced coral reef monitoring professionals from the island province of Palawan to the technologies, to provide real-time information about coral reef condition.

This information will inform local reef management in the face of increasing climate change impacts and local pressures.

Philippine partners were trained to use ReefCloud, a digital platform with artificial intelligence (AI) that analyses underwater images of a coral reef to rapidly extract data about its condition and provide comprehensive, standardized, and easy-to-understand reports.

They were also trained to use the ReefScan Transom, an autonomous device that can be attached to a boat to take underwater images and transfer these to ReefCloud for analysis.

AIMS Marine Technology Innovation and Development leader Scott Bainbridge said it was the first time ReefScan Transom would be used outside Australia for autonomous coral reef monitoring.

(Video credit: AIMS)

“In Australia, Traditional Owners, tourism operators and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service are using ReefScan to capture and share reef data,” he said.

“It’s exciting to be introducing international users to ReefScan.

A ReefScan Transom unit along with other monitoring equipment was gifted to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development with a second one to be delivered next year.

AIMS Research Team leader and ReefCloud Director Dr. Manuel Gonzalez Rivero said Australia had a longstanding connection with the Philippines, with both nations founding members of the International Coral Reef Initiative.

“After the recent typhoon had passed, we visited a typical coastal reef system for our field work,” he said.

“We observed that the system was still recovering from the impact of the 2016 mass bleaching event with low coral cover, but we were excited to find some rare coral genera.

Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Operations Director Levita Lagrada said using ReefScan and ReefCloud would step up the organization’s reef monitoring activities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPalawan Council for Sustainable Development officer collects data for ReefCloud. (Image credit: Samuel Chan/AIMS)

“Information can be provided at the earliest time possible compared to our traditional method of coral reef monitoring,” she said.

“This is necessary for policy and decision-making to manage marine resources, towards attaining sustainable development.”

Climate change is accelerating its impacts on ecosystems and livelihoods across the globe and is widely recognized as the greatest threat to coral reefs worldwide. Increasingly frequent and severe coral bleaching events are outpacing corals’ ability to regenerate and adapt to warmer temperatures.

The initiative is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


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