Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans Gala  
  Please join us on Thursday, September 19th to celebrate the reefs and ocean! Reef Check's 2013 Gala will be outside on the beach at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica. As always, the evening will feature amazing music by La Mer, unique auction items, delicious food, celebrities, and a chance to meet some of the thousands of volunteer Reef Check EcoDivers who monitor California and tropical reefs as part of the Reef Check Foundation's citizen scientist programs. This year we are honoring a long time Reef Check supporter and the man who invented and commercialized the wetsuit — Bob Meistrell of Body Glove (see below). See you there!

For additional information please call Reef Check at 310.230.2371 or email

Sponsorship, auction, and advertising opportunities are available.
  Honoring our 2013 Heroes of the Reef  
  Reef Stewardship Award
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of his co-founding of Body Glove and California’s surf culture with his twin brother, Bill. Their development of the first practical wetsuit has allowed millions of people around the world to enjoy our reefs and oceans.

Bob Meistrell
Scuba Diving & Surfing Legend; Co-Founder of Body Glove

A note on the passing of Bob Meistrell:

Bob Meistrell passed away June 16, 2013 at the age of 84. It was a great honor to have known such a wonderful man who, like many of us, began as underwater "hunter-gatherers," but ended up with a perceptive understanding of marine biology and conservation. Bob was a great supporter of Reef Check and volunteered his boat for our use on several occasions over the years. He also offered a boat trip as an auction item as recently as last year that was a highlight of our live auction.

Bob was kind enough to allow us to interview him at length when we were putting together our corporate videos during the summer of 2011. We were able to get over 1 hour of wonderful history about how he started diving in Missouri back in the late 40's using an inverted bucket in a swimming pool with an air hose attached. And how he first noted neoprene on the back of a car being used as a gasket to keep water out of a tail light. Bob was an amazing guy and along with his brother Bill, kept a wonderful record of photos from California in the early days — the back deck of his boat filled with huge lobster and seabass — that are useful reminders of the wild wild west days.

We hope to continue to celebrate Bob's wonderful life at our Gala in September, in which Bob was to receive our Reef Stewardship Award, marking the 60th anniversary of his co-founding of Body Glove and California's surf culture with his twin brother, Bill, who passed away a few years ago.

For more about Bob Meistrell,
click here.

Bob Meistrell moved to the southern coast of California from Missouri in 1944 when he was 16 years old. Bob and his twin brother Bill became interested in surfing, and were one of the first to put fiberglass on the nose of their surfboards to protect the foam filled plywood boards. Becoming lifeguards and surfing by the lights of their car, they realized how cold the water could be. Finally in 1953, they found neoprene worked well for the first practical wet suit, which they called “The Body Glove”

Their pioneering work on wet suits used by scuba divers and surfers is now a lifestyle brand that is marketed in over sixty countries. Their support of water sports has earned them double recognition in the dive and surfing Hall of Fames, and their environmental work has gained them world notoriety.

Bob has received many awards and honors over his lifetime including:

John M. Olquin Marine Environmental Award – Bill and Bob, recipients

California Wreck Divers’ Hall of Fame – In 2001, its first year of existence, Bill and Bob were inducted into the California Wreck Divers’ Hall of Fame for their outstanding achievements in the field of shipwreck exploration.

California Scuba Service Award – Bob won this award in 1994 “for the invention of a practical wetsuit for SCUBA diving.”

Surfing Hall of Fame – Pioneers of Surfing Award

Scuba America Hall of Fame – Bill and Bob were inducted in the Hall of Fame for their contributions to the sport of scuba diving.

Historical Diving Society USA Advisory Board - Bill and Bob served on this advisory board, along with Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Bev Morgan, Scott Carpenter and other luminaries.

SIMA (Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association) Lifetime Achievement Award – Presented to Bill and Bob Meistrell in 2003

Platinum Pro 5000 by Swim Schools International – In 1993, its first year, the Platinum Pro 5000 Diver card was given to Bill and Bob Meistrell, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and Bev Morgan.

DEMA Reaching Out Award – The Reaching Out Award recognizes “those who have made significant contributions to the diving community by “reaching out” to bring diving to people throughout the world.”

  Citizen Scientist of the Year Award
In recognition of his dedication to marine conservation as a Reef Check California volunteer diver
  Dirk Burcham

Dirk Burcham has over 30 years of experience in the fields of Biology and Business. He has worked as a Wildlife Biologist and has held management positions in the wholesale distribution industry.

Dirk is an active Reef Check Volunteer and has received Reef Check’s annual Golden Slate Award 4 times for completing the most number of transects during the survey season. He was a member of the advisory team that assisted in the development of the Reef Check California Survey Protocol.

He is a recipient of the United States President’s Call to Service Award, a lifetime achievement award in recognition for his volunteer service to the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Dirk is also an active volunteer with the Catalina Island Conservancy Divers and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Marine Conservation Research Institute.

Dirk and his wife Betsy have been married for 36 years. They have three adult children and 2 grandchildren.

Dirk earned a B.S. degree in Zoology from San Diego State University and an M.S. degree in Wildlife Management from Humboldt State University.