2021 Update to the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program

Cover of the National Coral Reef Monitoring Monitoring Program

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program administers a gold-standard, national coral reef monitoring program that covers all U.S. coral reefs. Known as the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program, it has followed a standard, but regionally-tailored approach since 2013.

The monitoring effort provides comprehensive information about the current and future state of the nation's coral reefs by integrating benthic, fish, climate, and socioeconomic data. This information is used to guide conservation projects and document the effectiveness of restoration efforts.

The original monitoring plan was released in 2014. The 2021 update reflects advances in technology, science, and approach, and continues to stress the program's strong commitment to collaboration among the participating NOAA line offices, programs, and labs.

The longevity of the monitoring program means the data collection teams have undertaken at least one, if not several, cycles of repeat data collections for each jurisdiction, which means the monitoring data can now be used to document trends in addition to providing current status reports. The updated plan also details possibilities for using monitoring data to inform and contextualize science-based decision making and natural resource management.

With this new plan, the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program also confirms its commitment to increasing the creation of products and tools that help officials and citizens access this wealth of data and use it to benefit coastal communities and the nation's coral reefs.

To read or download the plan: For more information, email Erica Towle (, who leads the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program.