In the effort to develop common research methods for monitoring the health of coral, NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Professor of Biology John Burt recently led a workshop that featured experts from the UAE, Kuwait, Australia, the UK, and the US.

"The goal was to get people all on the same page," Burt told The National.

A shared research method will allow scientists to effectively compare their work and will aid in the production of a comprehensive study of coral colonies throughout the Arabian Gulf. Conference participants will publish a scientific paper within a year, according to The National.

Gulf coral are of particular interest to marine biologists, as these coral live in water that is extremely warm and has a high level of salinity. By studying Gulf coral, scientists may be able to learn how coral throughout the earth's oceans will adapt to rising sea temperatures caused by climate change.

The five-day conference consisted of two days in the classroom and three days spent examining coral in their natural habitat in the waters off Abu Dhabi.

But the conference wasn't only for marine biologists and coral experts. To bring wider attention to this important issue, Burt gave a public lecture titled "Coral Reefs of the Gulf: A Unique Eco-system." Burt told The National that a main goal of the conference was to build awareness within the local community about threats posed to coral colonies by climate change and development.

In the future, scientists will need to work closely with developers and policy makers to preserve these unique and important ecosystems.