"Fish are not just there for enjoyment and to be eaten,"Hoegh-Guldberg said. "They act as gardeners."
But most people probably don't know what's being lost: Less than 1 percent of humans have ever dived on a coral reef, Hoegh-Guldberg said.
With this new project, reef worlds that were once the province of the few are now accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. In fact, regular people will be able to aid scientists in their efforts to monitor these ecosystems. For example, a young student interested in turtles could count the turtles in the images.
Next year, Hoegh-Guldberg and his team plan to map the Coral Triangle in Southeast Asia, a major center of biodiversity. "It's a very valuable part of the ocean, but it's also under extreme pressure," Hoegh-Guldberg said.
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