ReefBase – Status of the World’s Coral Reefs

ReefBase Coral Reefs in Google EarthCoral reefs are some of the most endangered ecosystems in the world and, with climate change upon us, reefs are at great risk. Google Earth Blog previously wrote about the work by NOAA at the Coral Reef Watch web site. Recently I was contacted by a former intern of the ReefBase project which attempts to keep track of the status of reefs all around the world. Keene Haywood has converted the ReefBase data into a Google Earth file so you can see some data about each of the hundreds of documented reefs (NOTE: Best viewed with Google Earth 4) This file is experimental and is not hosted by NOAA, but he hopes they will include it someday soon. Thanks to the big June update, many of the reefs areas now have high resolution satellite photos in GE. You can also download the current NOAA Coral Reef Watch GE file and turn on the “Sea Surface Temperature”. Keene says: “I hope that this project gives people an idea of the breadth of reefs around the world and the threats facing them. If this project raises some awareness, then I will feel the project has had some impact.
Important tip: By the way, Keene has used an interesting new feature in the KML 2.1 format which allows large collections of placemarks to be placed in “hidden” folders. This means when you click on a placemark in the folder it does not cause the folder to be opened in the Places pane. This is really important with large datasets. With GE 3 this file takes much longer to open and is more cumbersome to use. Those of you creating large collections of placemarks should look into this feature.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Pierre-Yves St-Louis says:

    What is the tags that make it possible to hide folders when a placemark contained in it is clicked. I was not able to find it in the tags listed in the KML 2.1 tutorial.
    Thank you and congratulation for your wonderful website.

  2. Pierre-Yves St-Louis says:

    Hi Again,
    I think I found out what the added tags are :
    Am I right?

  3. Yes, the element CheckHideChildren is what hides the folder contents in KML 2.1
    This is a great addition for making large datasets manageable in the Layers pane as Frank pointed out.
    The only drawback is that when the folder contents are hidden, the contents are not searcheable via Ctrl-F.

  4. I have a request/question that’s somewhat related to this post. I’m very interested in gaining access to sea-floor depth information for the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico for some archaeological research. Where did the data come from that was used to portray the ocean floor in Googl Earth? How can I get data points (as opposed to a graphic)?

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