Millennium Corals

The Millennium Coral Reef Mapping Project: Understanding, Classifiying and Mapping Coral Reef Structures Worldwide Using High Resolution Remote Sensing Spaceborne Images.

For detailed information on the MC project see the legacy website at NOTE: this website is currently down but can still be accessed through the internet archive wayback machine: Shapefiles are available at C with further requests.

A new global coral reef database was released by the United Nations Environmental Programme World Conservation Monitoring Center (UNEP-WCMC). It represents the global distribution of tropical, sub-tropical coral reefs. It was created from multiple sources, including USF’s Millennium Coral Reef Mapping Project Seascape database and merged together by UNEP-WCMC and the WorldFish Centre in collaboration with WRI and TNC. It should be seen as an “interim” global product. The Approximate % coverage of data sources are as follows – Millennium Coral Reefs (Unvalidated) 50% – Millennium Coral Reefs (Validated) 30 % – Other sources 20%.

Citation: The dataset must be cited in the following manner, maintaining the separate entities:

  • IMaRS-USF (Institute for Marine Remote Sensing-University of South Florida) (2005). Millennium Coral Reef Mapping Project. Unvalidated maps. These maps are unendorsed by IRD, but were further interpreted by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Cambridge (UK): UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • IMaRS-USF, IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement) (2005). Millennium Coral Reef Mapping Project. Validated maps. Cambridge (UK): UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • Spalding MD, Ravilious C, Green EP (2001). World Atlas of Coral Reefs. Berkeley (California, USA): The University of California Press. 436 pp.
  • UNEP-WCMC, WorldFish Centre, WRI, TNC (2010). Global distribution of warm-water coral reefs, compiled from multiple sources (listed in “Coral_Source.mdb”), and including IMaRS-USF and IRD (2005), IMaRS-USF (2005) and Spalding et al. (2001). Cambridge (UK): UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. URL:

For display and use of data below the global scale please check and cite individual data sources according to the citations within the full source table provided with this dataset (UNEP-WCMC). For more information, please visit:

Previous Work

The Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS) at the University of South Florida (USF) was funded by the Oceanography Program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide an exhaustive worldwide inventory of coral reefs using high-resolution satellite imagery. By using a consistent dataset of high-resolution (30 meter) multispectral Landsat 7 images acquired between 1999 and 2002, USF characterized, mapped and estimated the extent of shallow coral reef ecosystems in the main coral reef provinces (Caribbean-Atlantic, Pacific, Indo-Pacific, Red Sea).

The program aimed to highlight similarities and differences between reef structures at a scale never before considered by traditional work based on field studies. It provided a reliable, spatially very well constrained data set for biogeochemical budgets, biodiversity assessment, reef structure comparisons and also provided critical information for reef managers in terms of reef location, distribution and extent, since this basic information is still of high priority for scientists and managers.