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Mapping Coral Reefs

MAPPED OUT Coral reefs are found in oceans around the world. This reef is in French Polynesia, in the South Pacific. It is included in the new Allen Coral Atlas. ALEXIS ROSENFELD—GETTY IMAGES

Scientists have a new tool. It’s the Allen Coral Atlas. It’s a detailed online map of the world’s coral reefs. Its data will help conservationists.

Coral reefs are home to ocean animals. These include fish and crabs. Reefs provide economic benefits to millions of people. They also protect coastlines.

The atlas was made using satellite images. More than 2 million images went into it. It gives users detailed views of coral reefs. It shows features such as sand, rocks, and seagrass. And it has a coral bleaching monitor. This tracks changes in the health of coral reefs.

The Allen Coral Atlas is the work of many people. Scientists at Arizona State University led the project. They partnered with other schools, groups, and private companies. “It really was a global effort,” Helen Fox says. She’s with the Coral Reef Alliance. “There were huge efforts [to help] people be aware of the tool and the potential scientific and conservation value.”

Stop and Think! What information about the atlas do you find in the first paragraph? How does the rest of the article add to your understanding of the atlas?