Coral reefs are home to over a quarter of all life in the ocean, and are a source of food, livelihoods, coastal protection, and cultural heritage for more than 500 million people.

WCS monitors corals at Glover's Reef to understand the overall health of the atoll's coral reef community. Coral is critical to the maintenance of local biodiversity, and the reef is one of the two key marine ecosystems within the protected area. Coral reefs are one of most diverse ecosystems on the planet, essential to the viability of the majority of fish and marine invertebrates living on the reef, providing basic structure for shelter, foraging, and reproduction. Coral reefs are also one of the more important tourism attractions in Belize.

There are two main types of corals: hard and soft corals. Hard corals, which are coral species that secrete calcium carbonate which forms a hard skeleton that assists in reef building, and soft corals which do not producer a rigid calcium carbonate skeleton and does not for reefs, however, they are part of the reef system. Their colonies tend to resemble trees, bushes, fans, and whips.

Coral preferred habitat includes: dense patch reef, forereef with dense massive and encrusting corals, and low relief spur and grove. It is also found in diffuse patch reef, forereef with sparse massive and encrusting corals, deep reef/ wall/escarpment, reef channels, and less commonly found in the reef crest. Specific threats include coral bleaching; coral diseases; anchor damage / diver and snorkeler damage; and run-off, sewage, dredging and oil pollution.

As climate change causes our oceans to rapidly warm, destructive and excessive fishing and widespread water pollution threaten to degrade our most important marine ecosystems. If we don’t take action, scientists estimate that 90% of coral reefs may be lost by 2050, with dire consequences for the communities that they protect and provide for.


MERMAID is the world’s first open-source coral reef data platform, designed in a partnership between WCS, WWF, and Sparkgeo to revolutionize coral reef data collection. Launched in 2020, MERMAID’s dashboard provides real-time data on coral reef health to help scientists and governments mobilize to protect reefs. The platform is a vital tool to help us track the health of reefs over time and assess the effectiveness of conservation work. To date, over 570 scientists across 10 countries have used MERMAID to input data from over 1,200 coral reefs. READ MORE