Coral reefs are characterised by a benthic mosaic, including a mixture of both hard and soft coral species, dead corals, rubble and sand. My project will aim to produce high resolution 3D maps of the soft and hard coral benthic mosaics at Pelorus Island, Central GBR. The objective is to obtain structure-from-motion photogrammetric data combined with geospatial analyses (GIS) techniques to map and characterise these soft and hard coral habitats. Specific aims will be to determine topographic rugosity, measure patch sizes of corals and analyse nearest neighbour interactions between taxa.
Protecting reef organisms requires considering their habitat requirements and providing adequate protection. Hopefully, these maps will provide us with an insight into the importance of maintaining diverse benthic mosaics and prioritising unique and/or complex habitats for protection. As a relatively novel methodology, we hope that this technique of underwater photogrammetry can be implemented into existing long-term monitoring programs.