The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program champions coral reef conservation and empowers those who protect these diverse ecosystems. We are an international collaboration of scientists, managers, and supporters aimed at improving the regional condition of reefs in the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. For 20 years, AGRRA has used an innovative regional approach to examine the condition of reef-building corals, algae and fishes and support the conservation of coral reef ecosystems. We curate and distribute data, research and educational materials that support this mission.
The AGRRA program began in 1997 by Dr. Robert N. Ginsburg – the guiding visionary force and mentor behind AGRRA’s efforts for 20 years. Collaborating with numerous colleagues, advisors and students, AGRRA has become a leading advocate for coral reef science and conservation. Dr. Ginsburg has led and supported AGRRA, through his foundation The Ocean Research and Education Foundation (ORE), inspiring new generations of ocean scientists, educators and conservationists.
AGRRA’s initial goals were to provide a standardized assessment of key structural and functional indicators that could be applied to reveal spatial and temporal patterns of regional reef condition. Priority was placed on conducting baseline assessments of remote reefs such as in Cuba, The Bahamas, Panama and Los Roques and on creating educational materials and leading training workshops for in-country partners around the Caribbean.
Since that time, we have collaborated with teams of scientific professionals and partners to fill many gaps, collectively conducted over 2,300 surveys, built one of the largest open-access public databases of coral reef condition, and contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications and management plans.
A cornerstone of our program has been providing open-access to scientific data collected through our partner network. Over 2,300 surveys and 10,000’s of data scientific metrics of corals, fish, and key invertebrates have been collected throughout reefs in the Caribbean. The AGRRA data portal greatly improves the efficiency, transparency and reliability of data compilation and analysis. AGRRA has become a key source of scientific data used to inform reef policies, legislation, management and conservation.
AGRRA has developed a comprehensive set of visual training tools to help partners learn identification of key reef organisms, their role in reef health, and how to scientifically monitor, track and understand these systems. We strive to promote a learning platform through trainings, exchanges and education materials and to catalyze conservation impact through creative effective communication to wider audiences.
Our goals at AGRRA are to:
- 1. Conduct scientifically sound, comparable regional surveys of the health of coral reefs using a standardized method
- 2. Promote a collaborative learning platform through trainings, exchanges and open-access education materials
- 3. Advance our scientific understanding of coral reefs, analyze data results and provide easy data access with the AGRRA data platform and on-line data entry tools
- 4. Catalyze conservation impact through partnerships and creative effective communication to wider audiences.