Applications of Coral Bio-Optics to Coral Reef Management
Hamilton, Samantha Christine
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The unabated decline of coral reefs has led to criticisms of both coral reef monitoring and management: monitoring data provides management with a limited capacity to detect current sources of stress acting on the reef, address sources of stress before they significantly affect the reef, and predict future trends in order to prevent further harm. This project evaluates the management merits of developing coral bio-optics, the study of coral pigmentation using underwater spectrometry, into a uniquely precise and proactive reef monitoring methodology and part of a monitoring program. This includes an evaluation of the technology’s ability to pre-emptively detect nutrification and bleaching stress in aquaria. The evaluation informs a discussion of how coral bio-optical monitoring might provide management decision support for the control of human activities in Bermuda’s reef ecosystems, given the country’s recent marine policy initiatives. Recommendations include the implementation of coral bio-optical monitoring to expand our understanding of stresses and pigmentation health, further develop the technology, and apply the technology to monitoring the optical properties of multiple coral species.