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March 5, 2020

Global Reef Expedition: Cook Islands Final Report

Publisher: Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation

Authors: Alexandra C. Dempsey, Katie Lubarsky, Philip P. Renaud, Renée D. Carlton, Samuel Purkis

Language: English

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation embarked on the Global Reef Expedition—the largest coral reef survey and mapping expedition in history—to study the coral reef crisis on a global scale. As part of the 5-year expedition, an international team of scientists traveled to the Cook Islands in 2013 to assess the health and resiliency of their coral reefs. The Global Reef Expedition: Cook Islands Final Report provides a comprehensive summary of the Foundation's research findings from the Cook Islands research mission, along with recommendations for preserving these reefs for the use and enjoyment of future generations.

This report provides scientists, managers, and stakeholders with information on the status of corals and reef fish in the Cook Islands and helps further our understanding of the resiliency of these fragile marine ecosystems. Coral reefs face many threats, including pollution, climate change, overfishing, storm damage, and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish. In order to see how these threats impacted reefs, KSLOF worked closely with local leaders, government officials, and members of the Cook Islands Marine Park Steering Committee to study the reefs. Together, they completed over 400 surveys of the coral and reef fish communities surrounding Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Palmerston Atoll, and collected information to create over 400 km2 of high-resolution habitat and bathymetric maps of the seafloor.