Two trips were made to the north-western Australian shelf atolls to identify the hermatypic corals occurring on these reefs. In July, 1982 the Rowley Shoals were were visited and sites on two of the three main reefs (Mermaid Reef and Clerke Reef) were surveyed. In September 1984, the three main reefs of the Scott Reef complex (North Reef, South Reef and Sandy Islet) and nearby Seringapatam Reef were surveyed.
Sites were selected to encompass the range of habitats available. Habitats included reef flat zones, lagoonal habitats (pinnacles and soft substrates) and outer slopes with differing exposures to wave action. The number of sites visited at each reef were: Mermaid Reef (2), Clerke Reef (16), North Reef (11), South Reef (5), Sandy Islet (5) and Seringapatam Reef (2).
Surveys were primarily undertaken using SCUBA, which was supplemented by snorkelling and reef walking. Corals were initially identified in situ. If further investigation was required, samples were collected and sent to the Australian Institute of Marine Science.