Welcome to the tutorial on 'Coral reefs'

The rainforests of the sea…

Coral reefs may be the most beautiful of all areas of scenic beauty on Earth.
They are bursting of life, in all forms and colours. They shelther beautiful fishes, strange algae, special starfishes and of course, the corals themselves. Because of these characteristics, people call them 'the rainforests of the sea'.

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Lively reef
Lively reef. Photo: Mulyadi Setiono.

Many people, especially in developing countries, heavily depend on the coral reefs as a food source and income provider. In Asia, for example, tens of millions people rely on coral reefs for at least part of their livelihood.

But corals reefs are not reached easily. You only find them in very warm regions and of course, under water. This is why a lot of people don't really know much about coral reefs.

… are in danger !

The consequence of this ignorance is that these unique places are disappearing at a high tempo without anybody noticing it!

And this is a disaster! Corals are not only beautiful to see, they are also important for animals and human beings!

The images below show clearly that the coral reefs in the area of Hurghada (Egypt) disappeared within a period of 13 years. As you can see, these results are shocking!

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1987 image
Landsat 5 TM image, 1987.
Source: Vanderstraeten, 2007.
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2000 image
Landsat 7 ETM+ image, 2000.
Source: Vanderstraeten, 2007.

In this tutorial you will learn…

… what corals are and where they are located

… their value, both for animals and humans

… some important threats to coral reefs

… the importance of remote sensing in research on coral reefs

… how remote sensing can be helpful to manage the protection of coral reefs

Ready to dive into the submarine world of coral reefs? Let's go!