Coral extinction:

As much as one-third of reef-building corals are at risk of extinction.

Scientists predict that all corals will be threatened by 2050, with 75% facing complete extinction.

Why care:

Provides shelter for other sealife, and certain cancer medications are sourced from coral (look for details on this). The annual value of the ecosystem services provided by coral reefs to millions of people is estimated to be over $375 billion.

Growing conditions:

Coral grows up to 91 meters deep, but grows poorly at 18-27 meters. So we can say that they grow at 27 to 91 meters, although >50m is uncommon.

Given data like water temperature, water clarity, salinity, turbulence, etc. we could quite accurately model where we would expect coral to be growing.

What are the limitations of other reef visualizations?

In a 2D visualization, depth is represented in non-intuitive ways like colour.

In a 2D visualization, it is hard to get a sense of scale. Placing a viewer in a 3D space at real-life size is awe-inspiring.

The GeoScience Australia dataset was done with laser-readings (double-check this). While these are very detailed, there are new more detailed ways of mapping the reef, e.g. the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego has scientific divers taking thousands of photos of coral reefs which can be stitched together to create a detailed 3D model of the sea floor.

If we had data on coral bleaching/death over time, we could provide an extremely powerful VR visualization where the viewer sees the coral dies over time around them.