Mapping Coral Reefs with Drone Data
Drone data has been an essential part of The Nature Conservancy’s field survey program since 2014, opening up an entirely new niche of ‘personal remote sensing’ and local scale data collection. In particular, coral reefs face an overwhelming number of threats, including warming oceans, marine pollution, and overfishing. Reef managers must figure out how to better protect and restore these habitats in order to maintain the numerous ecosystem services they provide to people.
Dr. Steve Schill, Lead Scientist of The Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean Division, sees drone technology as a key conservation tool to help answer these questions. The clear waters of the Caribbean provide an ideal environment to map and monitor changes in coral reef communities. As Dr. Schill puts it, “Our job is to pinpoint where these reefs are, map what their condition is, and understand how they’re changing.”