Published: January 6, 2023

Location: Maldives


Closing Date: February 10, 2023

Mapping Technologies and Monitoring Techniques in Coral Reef Environments

Programme overview

Coral reefs are a complex and productive ecosystem that encompasses the highest biodiversity of any marine ecosystem. They are unique as they depend on a strong interaction between geomorphic and ecological processes. Investigating the formation and morphological change of coral reefs and reef associated landforms contributes to a deeper understanding of a number of geomorphological, environmental and ecological issues, such as sediment and nutrient transport processes, larval dispersion mechanisms, estimation of their carrying capacity as habitat, etc. Moreover, it is crucial to improve coral reef conservation with a view of changing environmental conditions resulting from an increased stress by both anthropogenic and climate changes. To date, we have lost most of the global coral reef systems worldwide due to several impacts, such as overfishing, coastal development, sedimentation, marine-based pollution (e.g. plastic pollution).

Until less than a decade ago, geomorphological mapping in coral reef environments was carried out using satellite data ground-truthed by field studies. Because of this, geomorphological mapping lacked a 3D representation at high spatial resolution. As a consequence, geomorphological and habitat mapping, together with monitoring investigations, were challenging topics. Nowadays, detailed mapping of coral reef environments is possible thanks to the use of both acoustic equipment (e.g. Multibeam Echosounder – MBES) and Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones), thus we are able to map, study and plan monitoring actions to be carried out to preserve such productive ecosystems.

The II Edition of the Mapping Technologies and Monitoring Techniques in Coral Reef Environments is your opportunity to gain hands-on experience on data acquisition and post-processing techniques by using different equipment, focusing on the importance of cutting-edge monitoring techniques for mapping coastal and nearshore environments.


MaRHE mapping workshopMaRHE mapping workshop


About the organisation

The Marine Research and High Education Center (#MaRHECenter) was officially inaugurated on January 28th, 2009. The Center’s purpose is to carry out research and educational activities in the fields of environmental science and marine biology, tourism science and human geography. It also aims to educate as to how to protect this fragile environment and its biodiversity, as well as to use and manage its resources responsibly.


About the programme

The course will consist of a series of frontal lessons and field activities. It will be coordinated by researchers with experience in the use of aerial drones and underwater instruments for coastal and seafloor mapping (bathymetric and habitat) and photogrammetry techniques.

After completion of this training course, you will be able to:

  • plan drone surveys with the ground station software and conducts the survey with different platforms (fixed wings and multirotor);
  • perform the survey and georeference models with GPS ground control points;
  • recognise main carbonate producers in coral reef environments;
  • plan a geomorphological survey in coral reef environments;
  • collect terrestrial and submarine topographic data using different technologies (UAV, MBES, ROV);
  • process MBES bathymetric and backscatter with specific software (EIVA, Qimera, FMGT);
  • process imagery data with Structure from Motions (SfMs) algorithms to build orthomosaics and/or 3D models (Agisoft Metashape);
  • create geomorphological and habitat maps (ArcMap)



The logistical support base will be the Marine Research and High Education Center (MaRHE Center) of the Milano-Bicocca University located in Magoodhoo Island, Faafu atoll, Republic of Maldives. Magoodhoo and the MaRHE Center are about 3 hours by speedboat from the airport of Malé, the Maldivian capital.

MaRHE Center can easily host up to 40 people, both groups of students as well as individual researchers who want to spend some time in a very comfortable place such as our campus, deep in the verdant tropical setting.

Two buildings in the Center are for guest accommodation:

  • One has seven rooms, each one with 3-4 beds, a private bathroom, air conditioning and daily cleaning service. In the same building, one floor above, there is a dining room where guests can relax after work. Together these structures form a central cloister.
  • In the second building, mostly for teacher and researcher accommodation, there are 4 rooms with 2-3 beds that may also be used as single rooms as per your convenience.

The Center is also equipped with an open-air dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another open space is available to study, meet, read, or just relax. The Center is also equipped with a large classroom that can accommodate up to 30 people, 3 fully equipped laboratories for preserving and analysing samples, two offices and a library. In the Center, there is also a diving center with 60 tanks and 25 complete equipment sets (BCD, regulators, masks and fins, weights and belts). Finally, a big diving dhoni (local boat) that can accommodate up to 50 people (30 divers maximum) is available for diving, field trips to other islands and sampling activities. WiFi connection is available.

The food is prepared according to local customs, so it will mostly consist of fish, chicken, rice, pasta and vegetables prepared in different ways. Meals are served as a buffet. Special dietary requirements and allergies are to be mentioned in the application form.



13 – 21 March 2023.


Costs and pre-requisites

1200 Euro for students (regularly registered at any university course)

1400 Euro for non-students


What’s included

The above amount includes:

– Transfer by speedboat from/to Male airport

– Transfer by local boat for all the activities, dives and excursions included in the program

– Food and lodging at the MaRHE Center of Magoodhoo: full board treatment and accom-modation in multiple rooms (single rooms are not available)

– Lectures and activities provided for the workshop program

The above amount does not include:

– Flight to/for Maldives (Male International Airport)

– Passport issuing or renewal costs, if any

– Entry Business visa and generic insurance coverage (if required). The cost for the VISA (and related insurance) is about 200 euro

– Possible rental of diving equipment (weights and weight belts are included)

– Anything else not specified above


How to apply

In the complete program, which you can download here, you can find detailed information on the structure of the field course and how to enrol on it.

To proceed with the registration, you will have to fill in this Google Form.

After completing the above questionnaire, we ask you to send an email to the address specifying in the subject: “Name Surname – Registration Mapping Technologies and Monitoring Techniques” and attach a .jpg colour copy of your passport naming the file MTCR23_Surname_Name_PPT.