Scleractinian corals represent the foundation species of reef ecosystems. Bleaching is a physiological, cellular response to environmental stresses wherein marine invertebrates including corals expel their endosymbiont, unicellular microalgae or zooxanthellae from their host tissues. Field spectroscopy helps to characterize the health of corals in terms of reflectance spectra or spectral signatures, i.e. reflected light as a function of wavelength. This chapter reports a case study on spectral discrimination of in situ hyperspectral signatures of live, apparently healthy and bleached corals collected from a single colony of Turbinaria peltata (Esper, 1794) sampled from Laku Point reef in Gujarat coast of India. Derivative analyses on the in situ reflectance data identify five narrow windows in the visible light region (green and red light regions) to spectrally discriminate live and bleached coral polyps of the T. peltata species. This study highlights the potential of field spectroscopy in characterizing coral health in situ through non-invasive sampling.
Part of the book: Invertebrates