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  • Collate available research focusing on the mesophotic depth zone, and make it accessible through a single webportal.
  • Allow for the identification of knowledge gaps around particular taxa and geographic areas at mesophotic depths
  • Provide a central place on the web for the exchange of scientific information and ongoing research efforts
  • Act as an independent platform and shared resource for and by the mesophotic research community.


The primary entities in the database are scientific publications, for which standard citation data and the full-text contents are indexed. In addition, the following metadata are manually curated, and validated by at least 3 editorial members:

  • Mesophotic: true / false. Indicates whether the publications presents data from, or a discussion on, the mesophotic depth range (true), or whether it is focused on another depth range (e.g. shallow or deep-sea) but relevant to mesophotic studies (false), and therefore included in the database. The upper depth limit for the mesophotic range is 30 m with the lower depth limit determined by the presence of light-dependent / photosynthesizing taxa (e.g. corals or macro-algae). A study on Mediterranean azooxanthellate corals at 80 m depth in a habitat with macro-algae, is categorized as mesophotic (true), but not as a "coral reef".
  • Coral reefs (tropical & subtropical) : true / false. Indicates whether the publication presents data from a (sub)tropical coral reef environment (true), or instead from a temperate environment (false).
  • Original data: true / false. Indicates whether the publication presents novel data (true) or instead represents a review or meta-analysis (false).
  • Reports new species: true / false. Indicates whether the publications presents the description of one or more new species (true). Publications reporting on new species without describing them are not included.
  • Upper / lower depth: integer (in meters). Indicates the shallowest / deepest data record (e.g. specimen or transect) in the presented dataset or meta-analysis (using normal rounding to obtain integer). Only given for publications that present `Original data`. Personal observations mentioned in the publication are not included.
  • Platform: categorical. Indicates the platform(s) used to collect the presented data. Only given for publications that present `Original data`. show categories

    Acoustic Telemetry 3Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) 17Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) 3Coring / drilling 3Diving (unspecified) 49Diving - Regular Open-Circuit 68Diving - Technical Open-Circuit 56Diving - Technical Rebreather 48Dredging / trawling 9Fishing 3Land-based 0Manned Submersible 77Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) 50Snorkeling 2Sonar 21Towed Video 3 .

  • Research field: categorical. Indicates the research field(s) the publication can be categorized under. show categories

    Biodiversity 138Biomedicine 5Community structure 155Connectivity 42Ecology 105Evolution 10Fisheries 16Geomorphology 27Long-term monitoring 19Management 52Methods and Technology 0Molecular ecology 63Oceanography 16Paleoecology 14Physiology 54Reproduction 11Taxonomy 0 .

  • Focus taxon/taxa: categorical. Indicates the focal taxon/taxa of the publication. show categories

    Actiniaria (Sea anemones) 2Alcyonacea (Soft Corals) 23Algae (Macro, Turf and Crustose Coralline) 41Antipatharia (Black Corals) 9Bacteria and Archaea 9Crustacea 12Fish 80Milleporina (Fire Corals) 2Other endosymbionts (non-Symbiodinium) 0Other invertebrates 3Overall benthic (groups) 77Porifera (Sponges) 15Scleractinia (Hard Corals) 137Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae) 52Viruses 0 .

  • Geographic location: categorical. Indicates the geographic location the publication focuses on. show categories

    American Samoa 1Australia-Carpentaria 4Australia-Coral Sea 7Australia-GBR 24Australia-NSW 2Australia-Northern Australia 1Australia-Scott Reef 3Australia-Western Australia 4Bahamas 29Barbados 5Belize 3Bermuda 9Bonaire 6Brazil-Eastern Brazil 6Brazil-Espirito Santo 2Brazil-Fernando Noronha 1Brazil-Northeast Brazil 6Brazil-St Peter and St Paul Archipelago 2Brazil-Trindade and Martin Vaz 5Brunei 0Cayman Islands 8Chagos 1Chuuk atoll 1Cook Islands 1Costa Rica 0Cuba 2Curaçao 27Fiji 1French Polynesia 1Galapagos Islands 1Grenada 1Guadeloupe 1Guam 2Hawaii 41Honduras-Bay Islands 5Israel-Eilat 32Italy-Ligurian Sea 2Italy-Tyrrhenian Sea 3Jamaica 12Japan-Okinawa 5Johnston Atoll 7Mariana Islands 2Marshall Islands 6Martinique 1Micronesia 4Palau 2Panama-Caribbean 1Panama-Pacific Ocean 2Philippines 0Poland 0Puerto Rico 31San Salvador 1Saudi Arabia 1South Africa 1Spain-Mediterranean Sea 9St Vincent 1Sudan-Red Sea 1São Tomé and Príncipe 0Turks and Caicos 1US Virgin Islands 34USA-California 1USA-Florida 19USA-Gulf of Mexico 6USA-North Carolina 1USA-Oregon 1Vanuatu 1Venezuela-Los Hermanos 1 .

  • Study sites and coordinates: name and coordinates. Provides a list the names (if given) and coordinates (in decimal degrees) of study sites listed in the publication. If coordinates are not listed, a rough approximation is given and the site is marked as estimated.

Release history

  • 2016-now: The second (latest) release: A beta version of the new went on-line in June 2016, coinciding with the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium in Hawai'i (USA). This new version is backed by a relational database that contains extensive metadata on all of the listed publications, and offers searching across the full contents of the indexed publications.

  • 2012-2016: Wordpress & social media: Over the past several years, a simplified semi-static (Wordpress) version with just news items and a list of publications/abstracts replaced the original (databases-backed) website. Admittedly only as a temporary solution, however due to a lack of time a new back-end was not developed until 2016. Instead, there was an increased focus on using social media (Facebook and Twitter) to communicate news around mesophotic coral ecosystems.

  • 2008-2011: The original release: The website officially went on-line in 2008 when it was first announced at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale (Florida / USA) and the International Collaborative Workshop to Prioritize Research and Management Needs for Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems in Jupiter (Florida / USA). The original website was started by Pim Bongaerts (The University of Queensland), with support from Felix Martinez and Lara Hinderstein (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration - Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research). Over these initial years, the website received small grants from the Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research (CSCOR/NOAA), the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS), the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPR) and the Pacific Blue Foundation. The website eventually went down due to being hacked (and admittedly not the most secure PHP coding practises).

Current contributors
Pimbongaerts sm
Pim Bongaerts
Development & Editor

Gal eyal
Gal Eyal

Andrea Gori

Richard Pyle

  Are you interested in helping out? Let us know!

Past contributors
Felix Martinez
Editorial board

Norbert Englebert
Data curation

Source code
The website source code was written in Ruby (2.2.1) on Rails (4.2.0) and is (for now privately) hosted on GitHub. Original set-up was done using RailsBricks, layout was formatted using Bootstrap, and authentication done with Devise. Charts and maps are generated with Highcharts.
For any questions, please contact us at: info[at]