By D. R. Stoddart and R. E. Johannes

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As with all interpretation, the recognition and mapping of coral reef photopatterns requires a systematic approach (see for example, American Society of Photogrammetry, 1960). Interpretation should, where possible, go through the following procedure : 1. Preliminary scan of imagery to determine the tonal or colour structure and range of tones or colours. It is particularly important at this early stage to note variations due to isolated cloud patches, flaring from the sun’s reflection, and contrasts between individual photographs or runs due to variations in the sun’s angle, weather conditions or, occasionally, in the quality of processing.

The gathering of oceanographic data (see below) is another. Yet again, however, little use appears to have been made of satellite imagery in coral reef research. Possibly a basic reason is the small scale of such imagery which means that small features, often the ones on which the coral reef researcher is requiring information, are below the ground resolution of the space photography. , 1973 ; Gedney and Van Wormer, 1973 ; Lyon, 1970 ; Pouquet and Rashke, 1968 ; Verstappen and Von Zudiam, 1970) and procedures for interpretation utilizing these new dimensions of colour, texture and pattern appear to have relevance to reef research.

1965; Badgley et al. g. Howard 1972) only a few papers deal with the systematic interpretation of coral reef features or use of aerial photographs in reef research, notably Steers (1946) and Teichert and Fairbridge (1948, 1950) on geomorphology and Kumpf and Randall (1961) Kelly (1969) and Kelly and Conrad (1969) on general ecology. This paper attempts to provide guidelines for the general application of aerial photography to reef studies, not only in the traditional field of panchromatic photography but also extending into colour and false colour media and active scanning systems in which rapid advances have been made over the last ten years.

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