Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia are creating virtual maps of coral reefs aimed at precisely modelling how the structure has been altered by environmental change. The idea is to use 3D printing technology to create prosthetic coral that could be used to help the Great Barrier Reef recover from bleaching and storms.
With her supervisor, associate professor Will Figueira, Dr Renata Ferrari established the Ecological 3D Modelling Hub to precisely quantify the structure of the delicate reef ecosystem.
She says “If you can create a 3D map, then you can measure it, because you literally have a map of the corals on your computer. You can get anything you want out of it.”
Although this technology is relatively new as it is based on photogrammetry: the science of making 3D reconstructions from photography.