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"Talking Science" in November 2022 with the Coral Chronicles


The world’s leading coral scientists came together at Reef Futures this past September to share the latest developments within the field of coral restoration science! Reef Futures is a bi-annual conference hosted by the Coral Restoration Consortium (CRC). During the week-long conference, restoration practitioners, managers, and researchers attended plenary presentations, session talks, a poster symposium, and an assortment of workshops—to learn from each other and get everyone caught up on the progress made in our shared field.

Scientists from around the globe gather at Reef Futures 2022. ©Coral Restoration Foundation/Madalen Howard

On the first day of the conference, registered guests were invited to the workshop: Using Large Area Imagery to Monitor Coral Restoration. This workshop—led by a panel including CRF’s own Photomosaic and Technology Coordinator, Alex Neufeld, Art Gleason of University of Miami, Clint Edwards and Nicole Peterson of Scrips Institute of Oceanography, and Will Greene of Perry Institute of Marine Science—provided the opportunity for experts in the field of large area imagery to share their knowledge and train others. It provided a means for restoration practitioners to better understand the mechanisms for adopting photomosaics into their monitoring methodology.

CRF™ Photomosaic and Technology Coordinator, Alex Neufeld, teaches Reef Futures attendees about large area imagery to monitor corals. ©Coral Restoration Foundation™/Madalen Howard

During the workshop guests rotated between six stations:

  • The first station offered a tutorial on in-water techniques which detailed an ideal swimming pattern while taking photomosaics and which camera settings should be utilized under variable in-water conditions.

  • The second station helped attendees learn to stitch pictures together using software and the correct settings.

  • The third station explained how to photograph small areas and individual coral colonies for building 3-D models.

  • At the fourth station, attendees were shown how to build these 3-D models and make measurements within the stitching software.

  • The fifth station was the hardware station: this is where all the pertinent hardware was laid out for everyone to see. The idea behind this station was to demonstrate the many different tools available to enable people to visualize how little equipment is needed to create photomosaics.

  • At the sixth and final station, Alex Neufeld and Clint Edwards offered their personal insight on data workflows, the implications associated with certain photomosaic results, and other tips that can be utilized for analyzing reef-scapes.

Six interactive stations were set up during the Large Area Imagery workshop to train and inform Reef Futures attendees. ©Coral Restoration Foundation/Madalen Howard

This 6th station was imperative for the workshop because it established the importance of photomosaics as a utility within our field. This final station also taught participants how to generate coral survival and growth metrics with ImageJ and Photoshop. At the end, a Q&A facilitated by the hosts of the workshop helped round off any questions and conclude a successful event for all.

Panelists participate in a Q&A after attendees have completed all 6 workshop stations. ©Coral Restoration Foundation/Madalen Howard

The goal of Reef Futures was to make information pertaining to the field of coral restoration more accessible—this is why the photomosaic workshop was such a success. As one of the pioneering organizations adapting photomosaic technology and large-scale imagery for the purposes of restoration monitoring at a reef-level scale, Coral Restoration Foundation™ aims to make the restoration practices that we have spent years developing more easily accessible to practitioners around the world.

Alex Neufeld commented, “At Reef Futures 2018 this workshop could not have happened…none of us leading the workshop were at a point where we had the knowledge that we do now. So, when Reef Futures 2022 came around we had a lot more to show the community. We did not want [members of other organizations] to go through the 4–5-year learning curve that we went through, so we wanted to put as much information out there as possible to help them now…and then tend to that on an individual basis to smooth any questions or issues over so they can implement photomosaics into their workflow.”

Using technological innovation, scientific collaboration, and a community approach, CRF™ is at the forefront of large-scale reef restoration. Our work provides support for ambitious, collaborative projects as is demonstrated by the role played in this workshop. We aim to continue to provide training and access to technology encouraging inclusion and collaboration through direct action.


"Talking Science" Editorial Intern

While Jason grew up in Westchester, NY, he would much rather consider the ocean his home. Jason lead most of his life wanting to be near the sea where he could explore Earth’s oceans and learn about marine life. After graduating from Stony Brook University with a degree in marine sciences, Jason decided to delve into the field of coral reef ecology so as to contribute to global conservation efforts and aid in the preservation of our planet. When he’s not in the water, Jason spends most of his time bouldering, snowboarding, making music, and writing. Beyond anything else, Jason finds purpose in making our planet a better, safer, and more enjoyable place for all of its constituents.

Coral Chronicles Editor

Madalen Howard is CRF's Communications and Outreach Coordinator. Madalen comes to CRF™ via a winding road from the Tennessee hills, to the South Carolina low country, ending here in Florida’s Coral Reef. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and a Minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston in 2016. Her experience ranges from field research to education, marketing and digital communications.

With CRF™ Madalen creates inclusive pathways to scientific discovery through content creation and by building and fostering relationships with press, digital media creators, and local community members. Throughout her life Madalen has had a skill connecting people with nature, and is excited to bring people into the world of coral restoration.

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