Coral Reefs

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 527–527 | Cite as

A sustainable museum collection of historical imagery for coral reef baselines

  • Robert Yarlett
  • Francoise Cavada
  • Judith Lang
  • Kenneth G. Johnson
Open Access
Reef Site


Coral Reef Museum Collection Reef Site Photographic Record Monitoring Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
Understanding ecological shifts documented on coral reefs over recent decades (Hoegh-Guldberg 2014) requires reconstruction of historical baselines. Underwater photographs of known reef sites are especially valuable sources of historical data (Fig. 1). As part of a new initiative to create a sustainable, open-access repository of historical reef imagery and associated data, a collection of over one thousand images made by Eileen Graham in the mid-1960s near Discovery Bay Jamaica is available for download (Johnson et al. 2016). They record the condition of reefs prior to their decline in the 1980s and before well-established monitoring surveys in the Caribbean. Images range from detailed close-ups to reefscapes and are a potentially rich source of ecological data including benthic community composition, habitat complexity, and disease presence. Ecological change on coral reefs shows great variability at local scales, so site-specific data may not suffice to inform decision-makers; thus, we aim to establish a network of image repositories from reefs worldwide to help define local baselines. We encourage reef scientists, underwater photographers, and recreational divers with well-organized photographic records to collaborate and share their images as part of this initiative, and urge their use for research, conservation planning, and simply as a visual reference of the changes undergone by coral reefs.
Fig. 1

Images of Discovery Bay from the archive made by Eileen Graham. a Spur reef on fore-reef terrace, Upper Buoy Reef area, ~21 m, August 1966. b Outcrop in sand channel on fore-reef slope, Upper Buoy Reef, ~17 m, September 1967. c Pinnacle One fore-reef slope reef, ~23 m, October 1966. d Eaton Hall First Groyne, vertical fore-reef escarpment, ~24 m, June 1966



We thank Eileen Graham for sharing her amazing photographs from the north coast of Jamaica from the 1960s. FC received support from the SCCS Miriam Rothschild Internship Programme for this work.


  1. Hoegh-Guldberg O (2014) Coral reefs in the Anthropocene: persistence or the end of the line? Geol Soc Spec Publ 395:167–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Johnson KG, Cavada F, Darrell J, Hunter W, Lang J, Santodomingo N, Yarlett R (2016) Dataset: Coral reef imagery by Eileen Graham of Jamaica in the 1960s.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Yarlett
    • 1
  • Francoise Cavada
    • 2
  • Judith Lang
    • 3
  • Kenneth G. Johnson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of ExeterExeterUK
  2. 2.Laboratorio de Ecología ExperimentalUniversidad Simón BolívarCaracasVenezuela
  3. 3.AGGRAOpheliaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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