Survey Methods

RLS applies globally standardised visual census methods developed over 30 years of shallow reef biodiversity research. These methods are applied by all RLS divers no matter where in the world they undertake a survey, and thus allow for direct comparisons to be made between any site surveyed by RLS.

Data Collection

Our survey methods involve divers recording fish and invertebrate species seen along underwater transects using underwater paper and a pencil. 

Although not high-tech, when undertaken by experienced surveyors, these allow coverage of species not able to be recorded by other methods, and are cost and time-effective. Photographs are also taken of the coral or seaweed cover on each survey. 

The complete methods cover the majority of plants and animals > 2.5 cm that make up the life of rocky and coral reefs.

Data Entry

Data entry is completed via specially-designed Excel templates which contain species and site lists for specific regions.

To download the latest data entry templates for Australian states, click on the relevant state on the map displayed (note that WA has separate templates for north and south).

Instructions on completing the data entry using these templates can be found in the RLS methods manual.

New Zealand Spreadsheets

Download data entry spreadsheets for New Zealand.

Contact Us

For international datasheets or queries relating to data entry.


Diver Safety

RLS is not a diver training organisation, but promotes safe diving practices by its experienced members.

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