caribbean coral reefs

Scientists Just Mapped All the Coral Reefs in the Caribbean

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - December 9, 2020

The Nature Conservancy has completed a significant new project: a region-wide publication of maps of all shallow water coral reefs in the Caribbean. 

Now, the Caribbean has a clear picture of the habitats found beneath its waves. 

“You cannot protect what you don’t know is there. Having access to these maps is a game-changing achievement for the Caribbean,” said Dr. Robert Brumbaugh, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean Division. “Thirty countries and territories finally have access to better, more detailed information about their underwater habitats to help them better protect marine areas, support sustainable livelihoods and prioritize their adaptation to potential climate change impacts. Understanding and protecting natural resources is critical to the economic success of these countries.”

The Nature Conservancy scientists, working with the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, worked with Planet Labs to stitch together more than 38,000 high-resolution satellite images. 

“These maps are now being distributed and made widely available to a variety of stakeholders across the Caribbean. Working with partners, we will use these maps to strategically expand marine protected areas, inform smarter coral reef restoration, support nature-based solutions against the threats of climate change, and overall catalyze more effective conservation actions” said Dr. Steve Schill, Lead Scientist for TNC’s Caribbean Division.

The maps show the location of coral reefs, seagrass beds and other “oases of underwater life,” according to TNC. 

“The scope of these maps is unprecedented in the region, and the opportunities they unlock to provide a better future for Caribbean ecosystems, and the millions of people who depend upon them, are astonishing” said Dr. Joseph Pollock, Senior Coral Reef Resilience Scientist for TNC. “Using traditional approaches, it would have taken approximately 250 million diver hours to map such a large area. New technologies have helped deliver these desperately needed maps at a tiny fraction of the effort and cost.”

A study by TNC published in 2019 found that approximately half of all livelihoods in the Caribbean region depended on healthy nearshore and coastal habitats — with coral reefs and reef-associate activities generating almost $8 billion in economic value to the tourism industry — and drawing around 11 million visitors to the Caribbean. 

The organization says the maps are meant to “inform a diverse array of conservation and policy decisions to protect and restore these essential coastal areas that people depend on.”

You can find the complete set of maps here

Popular Posts

The 10 Best Overwater Bungalows in the Caribbean, From Aruba to Belize

Overwater villas at Caribbean resorts aren’t just a novelty — they’re also among the most luxurious and beautiful accommodations you can stay in. And while all of the bungalows perched above the waves have their charms, some stand out among […]

The Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island Just Completed a $150M Renovation

walking on the beach in nassau

A new eatery by Michelin-star Chef Michael White. A new-look casino. State-of-the-art guest rooms and the Caribbean’s first Shake Shack.  The Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island resort has officially completed a $150 million resort-wide renovation, a significant project that included a […]

United Airlines Is Launching New Nonstop Flights to Belize

river in belize

The river lodges. The blue hole. The Maya history. The reefs. If you haven’t been to Belize, you’re missing one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful, adventure-filled destinations.  And now with another new flight, it’s easier to get there than ever […]

Related Posts ritz turks

The Ritz-Carlton, Turks and Caicos Has a New General Manager 

One of Turks and Caicos’ top luxury resorts has announced a new general manager, Caribbean Journal has learned.  The Ritz-Carlton, Turks and Caicos has tapped Louella Brezovar-van Veen to the role.  Brezovar-van Veen will oversee operations for the 147-room resort, […]

American Airlines Is Adding More Daily Nonstop Flights to Grand Cayman

seven mile beach with tree

The brilliant sands of Seven Mile Beach. The laid-back cool of Cayman Kai. The wonder of the Crystal Caves. The palpable history of Bodden Town. All those world-class restaurants.  If you’ve been to Grand Cayman, you know just how rich […]

This Old San Juan, Puerto Rico Hotel Is Now a Hilton 

old san juan puerto rico hilton

One of San Juan’s hottest boutique hotels is now a Hilton: the Palacio Provincial, the intimate retreat set in a former diplomatic building in Puerto Rico’s capital.  The hotel, a sister property to Old San Juan’s beloved El Convento, is […]


Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.

No. Thank You