Citizen Scientists Use Ko‘a Card for Coral

September 30, 2019, 11:30 AM HST (Updated September 30, 2019, 11:47 AM)

Using the Koʻa Card to determine the color of the surveyed coral colony. Credit: HIMB

The Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) is looking for citizen scientists to help measure and improve coral health throughout the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaiian Koʻa (coral) Card was developed by researchers from the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology’s Coral Reef Ecology Lab to help determine the health and bleaching status of Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs based on actual health factors related to each color.

The color of corals serves as a health indicator and helps to identify baselines, current conditions and change over time. With higher than usual ocean temperatures in the Hawaiian Islands, bleaching has already begun in 2019 and is expected to progress throughout the next months.

The next time you are out snorkeling, bring along a coral color card to identify the color of coral colonies, as well as their shape. Submit observations along with snorkeling location(s) online at


Public efforts will help identify areas of bleaching and areas of resilience throughout Hawaiʻi. No specific expertise is needed. People can pick up a coral card at the nearest Division of Aquatic Resources office, a branch of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources, and check out more detailed instructions on how to participate.

PacIOOS is assisting the Koʻa Card Project by providing data management and visualization support.


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