News & Blog

August 2017 – AGRRA conducts workshop in Veracruz, Mexico


Platform and fringing reefs with well-developed frameworks grow to maximum depths of about 21 m off the city of Veracruz in a naturally turbid environment on the narrow continental shelf in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. The reefs have been impacted in recent decades by increases in terrigenous sediments and by pollutants, coral diseases, overfishing and other stressors. The possibility of further endangerment by ongoing expansion of the Port of Veracruz resulted in a request for training in the AGRRA survey protocols.

Participants at the AGRRA monitoring protocol workshop, Veracruz, Mexico. August 2017

During the period Aug 21-26, 2017, AGRRA’s Judy Lang, Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip of UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and Marisol Rueda Flores of HRI (Healthy Reefs Initiative) presented a training workshop in Veracruz, Mexico on coral, fish and benthic ID and monitoring techniques, using the AGRRA protocols.

Eighteen participants attended the workshop from NGOs, dive centers, and research centers in Veracruz and Mexico City.

Throughout the classroom portion of the workshop, participants and instructors were able to share experiences of how to use the data generated with the AGRRA methodology to make recommendations on the management of the Veracruz Reef System. Observations showed that, despite the many threats that these reefs face, such as inadequate wastewater treatment, some colonies of large and healthy-looking corals can still be found.

Benthic student trainee. Photo courtesy of Lorenzo Alverez-Filip.

On the final day and a half of the workshop, students conducted in-water monitoring of three sites adjacent to the new Port of Veracruz. In addition to this, some were able to experience coral spawning.

Special thanks to Dr. Horacio Pérez Espana of the Instituto de Ciencias Marinas y Pesquerías of the Universidad Veracruzana and Dr. Jorge Brenner of The Nature Conservancy for organizing this training and to Manuel Victoria of Dorado Diving for assisting with the in-water and classroom training.


Fish students celebrate a successful completion of the workshop.

AGRRA appreciates the opportunity to work with partners to continue training workshops focused on marine conservation and reefs.

Robert Nathan Ginsburg (1925-2017) – Scientist, mentor, visionary

To our AGRRA community of friends and partners:

All of us with the AGRRA team are saddened to announce the loss of our colleague and dear friend, Dr. Robert N. Ginsburg who passed away July 9, 2017. As many of you know, Bob has been the guiding visionary force, mentor and “father” of AGRRA’s efforts for 20 years and has supported the AGRRA program through his foundation, The Ocean Research and Education Foundation (ORE).

What started off with Bob’s seemingly simple question in 1993 of “What is the status of our coral reefs?” turned into a collective global quest to better understand and protect these underwater ecosystems. Motivated by numerous colleagues and students, many of whom are now life-long friends, Bob became a spokesperson for the importance of coral reef science and rallied behind the urgent call to action to increase the protection of coral reefs.

Bob had a unique way of weaving together science, exploration, history, field trips, education, conservation, art, humor, storytelling, good food and music. Bob’s eloquent and thought-provoking speaking style and endless source of interesting stories not only piqued our scientific curiosities but engaged us in caring more about the future of coral reefs. He delighted in using analogies to explain the complexities of reefs in more simpler terms such as how corals are like apartment buildings or how Diadema urchins are the lawnmowers of the reef. Yet, he encouraged us as colleagues and students to think on larger spatial scales and broader geologic time frames and to consider how to make our scientific endeavors more relevant.

With AGRRA, Bob’s initial goals were to provide a standardized assessment of key structural and functional indicators to reveal spatial and temporal patterns of regional reef condition. Priority was placed on conducting baseline assessments of remote reefs such as Cuba, The Bahamas, Panama and Los Roques and on creating educational materials and leading training workshops for in-country partners around the Caribbean.

Now 20 years later, we have collaborated with many of you to collectively conduct over 2,300 reefs and collect 10,000’s of data metrics; have built one of the largest open-access public databases of coral reef condition, and contributed to numerous peer-reviewed publications, management plans and educational materials.

In addition to Bob’s many academic and geological contributions over his lifetime, we honor and celebrate the chapter of his life dedicated to coral reefs. Bob has inspired new generations of ocean scientists, enthusiasts, educators and conservationists. We are grateful for his wisdom, humor, and friendship.

We invite all of you who can to send us a photo or “Ginsburg or AGRRA-inspired” story to the email below to add to the collection we are collating for his memorial this weekend and for a future celebration of his life later in the fall. We thank all of you who have participated in AGRRA over the years and look forward to collaborating in the future to further Bob’s vision of better understanding and safeguarding our coral reefs.

Read more about his life here:  Miami Herald Tribute


Philip and Patricia Kramer, Judith Lang, Kenneth and Tammy Marks, Shirley Gun, Lynette Roth and all of us with the AGRRA team.

If you would like to contribute a story or photo or would like more information on our plans later this fall for a celebration of Bob’s life, please contact

Caribbean Coral Restoration Webinar: Coral Genetics Research & Restoration, 3 May 2017

NOAA’s Restoration Center and The Nature Conservancy are hosting a series of webinars and discussions with the Coral Restoration Consortium focused on Caribbean coral restoration. Join us for the second webinar on Wednesday, May 3 from 1-4 PM EDT.

Dr. Iliana Baums from Penn State University will give an overview of current genetics research, highlighting the various methods of genetic analysis and providing guidance on when it is appropriate to use each method. An hour-long presentation by Dr. Baums will be followed by Q&A and discussion about where genetics research is headed and how it can help support our restoration work. Both a recording of the webinar and a PDF of the presentation will be available to view after the webinar. Register here.

Reminder Date & Time- May 3, 2017
7 AM – 10 AM HST
10 AM – 1 PM PDT
1 PM – 4 PM EDT


Upcoming Caribbean Coral Restoration Webinar from The Nature Conservancy

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACaribbean Coral Restoration Webinar Series- webinar #2
  • Presented by The Nature Conservancy

What is this series? : Quarterly webinars featuring topics that are timely and relevant to the Caribbean coral restoration and research communities; communication after the webinar can continue on the forum at

Next Webinar – May 3rd from 1-4pm EST : Following on from the February 8th. webinar that launched this series, the next webinar is scheduled for May 3rd from 1-4pm EST (to accommodate participants in Hawaii).  Dr. Iliana Baums is presenting Genetics 101, which will be an introduction to the different genetic analysis methods available, the pros and cons of each, and how they can inform restoration and management.  In order to help her provide us with the most useful information, please fill out the form linked here:


If you have ideas for future sessions, or want to present, please contact Caitlin Lustic, The Nature Conservancy, Coral Restoration Manager,, phone 305-872-7071.

38th AMLC/ACLM Scientific Conference in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, 22-26 May 2017

The 38th AMLC/ACLM Scientific Conference , ‘Marine Science in a Changing Climate’ will be held 22-28 May, 2017 in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.  Registration & Call for Abstracts: opened 27 February 2017.

  • Closing date for abstract submissions: 17 March 2017
  • 2017 AMLC Student Travel Awards – deadline 17 March 2017
  • 2017 AMLC Student Research Grant-in-Aid – deadline 1 April 2017
Conference Co-Hosts
  • Universidad Autonoma de Yucatán (UADY) – venue for the scientific conference
  • National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) – meeting space for the Board of Directors
  • Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV)

A new way to see The Bahamas Underwater – Interactive atlas from Living Oceans Foundation

In 2011, AGRRA scientists Judith Lang and Ken Marks collaborated with The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) to conduct coral reefs surveys in the Bahamas including the Inaguas, Hogsty Reef and Cay Sal Bank. Reports from those surveys are now available along with the interactive atlas of Bahamian coral reefs (see news release below).

Habitat Mapping and Coral Reef Assessment, Inaugas and Hogsty Reef, Bahamas, August 2011

2011 Coral Reef Assessment, Cay Sal Bank, Bahamas, April 2011







NEWS RELEASE from Living Oceans Foundation
Date: March 1, 2017

Subject: A new way to see The Bahamas Underwater – KSLOF launches interactive atlas of Bahamian coral reefs

The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF) has launched an interactive version of our Bahamas Atlas. It is a great resource for anyone wanting to know more about the coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds of The Bahamas, but will be particularly useful for organizations and decision makers looking to safeguard these vital natural resources.

The Atlas is a digital flip book that contains detailed reports of the shallow water marine habitats of Cay Sal Bank, Great Inagua, Little Inagua, and Hogsty Reef along with direct links to fine-scale maps of seafloor habitats in these regions. In the accompanying Bahamas Web Map, viewers can overlay these habitat maps with maps of diversity, connectivity, and threats to coral reefs from heat and hurricanes. For more information on the Atlas and the digital flip book, read our latest story here:

For more information on the Bahamas Atlas, contact Liz Rauer.

Communications Manager for the Global Reef Expedition  | Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation | 443.221.6844 x202,


The Nature Conservancy announces new webinar series on Caribbean coral restoration

The Nature Conservancy is in the process of developing a Caribbean Coral Restoration Webinar Series (including Florida) to help foster long-term coordination and knowledge-sharing among the coral restoration and research community.  Preliminary details were announced during NOAA’s Caribbean Coral Restoration Workshop in November. The following provides more information.

What: Quarterly webinars featuring topics that are timely and relevant to the Caribbean coral restoration and research communities; communication after the webinar can continue on the forum at

Why:  To foster more frequent and comprehensive communication among the community and to highlight important research findings and lessons learned in a timely fashion.

When: The second Wednesday of every third month (February 8th, May 10th, August 9th, and November 8th in 2017); exact times TBD (please take the survey linked below).

Who:  Restoration practitioners, coral scientists, resource managers, students, everyone is welcome to join in!   Participation from Pacific partners is welcome but the information will be tailored to the Caribbean simply to keep the scope manageable.  An agenda will be posted to the Reef Resilience forum prior to each webinar so you can decide whether the topic is relevant to your work.

The first two webinars are scheduled and the topics selected: 

February 8th: Coral Spawning Research and/or Larval Propagation – Kristen Marhaver, Valerie Chamberland and Nikki Fogarty want to hear from you about what information would be most relevant.  In order to help them tailor their talk to your needs, please fill out this google form/survey: FILL OUT FORM.

May 10th:  Introduction to Genetics – Iliana Baums will discuss the various genetic techniques including what each technique tells you; the pros, cons and costs of each; and how they can inform restoration and management.

If you have ideas for future sessions, or want to present, please contact Caitlin Lustic, The Nature Conservancy, Coral Restoration Manager,, phone 305-872-7071.

Seasons Greetings


All of us on the AGRRA team and our sponsor partner, Ocean Research & Education Foundation, wish to extend you a joyous Seasons Greetings. We appreciate your interest and support, and hope you can help us celebrate AGRRA’s 20th anniversary in 2017.

May the wonders of the seas continue to inspire you in the New Year.

Happy Holidays! 
Philip Kramer, Patricia Kramer, Judith Lang, Kenneth Marks, Shirley Gun, Robert Ginsburg

AGRRA conducts training workshop in Jamaica

Kingston, Jamaica, August 21-26, 2016

Presenters & attendees at the AGRRA Protocol Training in Kingston, Jamaica. Photo by Anna Ebanks-Chin.

AGRRA database manager Ken Marks and scientist Dr. Judy Lang partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the University of the West Indies’ Port Royal Marine Laboratory to conduct an intensive, five-day training workshop on the AGRRA protocols and its online data-entry tool.


Attendees included a lecturer and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of the West Indies, and six environmental scientists or consultants, each of whom focused on mastering at least two of the three (benthos, corals, fish) AGRRA protocols.

The training was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development and its Caribbean Marine Biodiversity Program which conducts part of its activities in the Caribbean.


Starting a survey training dive on the Port Royal fore reef. Photo captured from a video by Rachel D’Silva.

We are most grateful to staff at: (a) The Nature Conservancy for its fine logistical support for the classroom sessions, which were held at the The Nature Conservancy office in Kingston, and for arranging our diving; and (b) the Port Royal Marine Laboratory for cheerfully facilitating the dives.



Nurse shark on a fore-reef spur off Port Royal. Photo captured from a video by Rachel D’Silva.

Thanks to some unusually calm weather, we were able to dive at several sites on the fore-reef spurs seaward of the Port Royal barrier reef, as well as at one of the offshore cays.


New Access to AGRRA Training & Survey Materials

New Access to the AGRRA Training and Survey Materials

DSC_7977The front-end access functionality to the Training Tools section of the website has been updated.

Access to these materials is now available using the updated AGRRA Website Registration.  Users who registered previously before September 27th will need to re-register. The same email address can be used but users will need to re-submit password details and registration information in order to create this new registration. [Note: cookies must be allowed].

Users can register when they access the Training Tools section and they will be prompted to create a new AGRRA registration when first attempting to download a file.

All materials are available to AGRRA Registered users.  Register to access the most recent versions of the materials.

Safari Users: Please note there is an incompatibility issue with Safari browser and the Registration process. Users are therefore advised to use alternate browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome.

Thank you for your patience. If you have any questions please feel free to contact