Reef Check Belize gained
momentum in 2003 with a two-day “mini” training session held in
November and conducted by Reef Check Executive Director Gregor Hodgson.
The session was held at the Belize Yacht Club in San Pedro. Taking part in
the training were members of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Green Reef
Environmental Institute, and local dive operations.
year also saw the development of a Belize/Cuba project sponsored by the
Oak Foundation. This program
will provide funding to study approximately 30 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Through this funding, Reef Check hopes to train 40 people and conduct 30
surveys in Belize alone. For
more information, check out the newspaper article
from The San Pedro Sun.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Contributed by Trish Baily
Reef Check in the British
Virgin Islands was conducted this year using
the ecosailing sailboat Serendipity as its base. Trish
Baily, the Reef
Check coordinator for
BVI, is also the captain of the
charter boat. The 2003 Reef
consisted of visitors to the island from New
York, and included the owner of Serendipity. Serendipity sailed to the various sites and coordinated daily with Aquaventure Scuba who
provided the dive masters and equipment for the Reef Checks.
Prior to Reef Check, two days were spent getting the divers comfortable with
their surroundings working on fish identification and familiarizing them
with the Reef Check
protocol. At the end
of the day the team relaxed on board, snorkeled and enjoyed
a tranquil anchorage for the night. For
more information on RC BVI or the Serendipity, contact Trish
Baily or click here.
Contributed by Dulcie Linton
As part of an effort to improve coral
reef monitoring and reporting on the status of coral reefs in the countries
of the Northern Caribbean node of the Global Coral
Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN),
a team of scientists led by the Caribbean Coastal Data Centre (CCDC), Centre
for Marine Sciences, University of the West Indies, visited Haiti during the
period September 15-20 and conducted training in the Reef Check method of
coral reef monitoring and collected data from some reef sites at Les
Arcadins and the surrounding coastline. The team members were drawn from a
number of organizations based in Jamaica and were led by Team Leader Dulcie
Linton (Manager, Caribbean Coastal Data Centre) and Team Scientist Peter
Edwards (Scientific Officer, Centre for Marine Sciences).
The team worked in close collaboration
with Jean Wiener, Director of Foundation pour la
Protection de la Biodiversite Marine (FoProBIM), a Non-Governmental
environmental organization in Haiti. A two-member team from Haiti, including Jean
Wiener (FoProBIM) and Mandy Karnauskas, a Peace Corps volunteer, were
trained during the period. The
poor economic climate in Haiti is largely responsible for the lack of
trained divers to participate in the exercise. Dive gear, air fills and
facilities for training are not readily available and therefore
are expensive to acquire, so that diving is not an exercise that ordinary
Haitians participate in. Additionally, Haiti does not have any tertiary
institution which focuses on education in
marine sciences from which graduates
would be available for training.
diving team of eight individuals conducted the monitoring, which was focused
in the Les Arcadins area of Haiti, situated along the west coast of Haiti.
The area boasts three small islands which are surrounded by extensive coral
Visual surveys of the sites revealed
generally healthy reefs. For more detailed analysis, read the full
Check Training and Coral Reef Monitoring in Haiti: A Preliminary Report.
For more information, contact Dulcie
Contributed by Jon Shrives
Wallacea, a volunteer-based research eco-tourism group, has been
conducting Reef Check surveys in the Wakatobi Marine Park, Indonesia, for
the last five years. In February 2003, Operation signed an agreement with
the Honduran Coral Reef Foundation, to cooperatively research the Cayos
Cochinos Marine Protected Area. June 2003 saw the running of the first
season of Operation Wallacea in the Cayos Cochinos and Honduras. The Reef
Check method has facilitated the collection of baseline data for the
construction of further research programs in 2004. It has also allowed the
collection of data on an area of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System that
has not previously been studied by Reef Check.
This season acted as a “pilot season” for the much larger scale
operation of the 2004 season. As such, volunteer numbers and resources were
limited and, due to logistical constraints, only a handful of sites (5) could be
selected to represent the entire Marine Protected Area. It is hoped that Reef Check
2004 in the Cayos Cochinos will re-visit the same sites, as well as
dramatically expand its range. For more
information check out the Operation
Wallacea website or contact Jon
here for the full report, including the survey results.
Contributed by Dulcie Linton
The Jamaica Coral Reef Monitoring
Network (JCRMN), led by the Caribbean Coastal Data Centre (CCDC), Centre for
Marine Sciences, University of the West Indies, completed a successful Reef
Check training workshop in Negril, 6-7 September, 2003. This workshop is one
of a number of planned activities geared at increasing monitoring of
Jamaica’s coral reefs, particularly along the south coast, and falls
within the regional mandate of the CCDC to improve available information on
the status of reefs in the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)
Northern Caribbean and Atlantic node countries. Through a grant from the
International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) project of the United
Nations Environment Programme, Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP),
the CCDC’s capacity has been strengthened to coordinate collection of and
reporting on data and information on coral reef status in node countries.
total of 17 individuals participated in the training with Malden Miller of
ICRAN, UNEP as the team leader and trainer. These trained individuals will
form a core group of divers who will support future monitoring activities of
the JCRMN. In partnership with rangers from the Negril Coral Reef
Preservation Society (NCRPS) monitoring was conducted September 6-7. Three
of the four NCRPS survey sites, Bloody Bay, Ireland Pen, and Little Bay were
surveyed on Saturday and El Punto Negrilo on Sunday the 7th.
For analysis of their data, read the full report
Coral Reef Monitoring Network (JCRMN) Reef Check Training Workshop and Data
Collection in the Negril Marine Park.
more information, contact Dulcie
Contributed by Jason Vasques
Reef Check in the US Virgin Islands got a
kick-start with help from a habitat assessment grant from the Division of
Fish and Wildlife. Under this grant, a Reef Check was conducted on Savana
Island off St. Thomas. The
team, comprised entirely of marine scientists, included three scientists
from the USVI Division of Fish and Wildlife and a postdoc fellow at the
University of the Virgin Islands. Under this grant surveys are planned to continue at Savana
Island and other sites around St. Thomas. Contact Jason
Vasques for more information.
Contributed by Helen R. Sykes
Resort on the Coral Coast of Fiji Islands have become Reef Check
supporters. Over the 3 days of 22-24th July 2003, we trained
resort and diving personnel in survey techniques so that they could
conduct regular update surveys, and gain their own knowledge of the reef
health in the area. There was a lot of enthusiasm from staff of both the
Dive Operations and the Resort.
spent three days training and carrying out surveys. During this time we
re-surveyed two sites and
set up permanent transects at Votua village outside Mike’s Divers.
initial survey will be used as a baseline for further study both inside and outside a recently established Marine Protected Area at the village of
The hope is to develop a guest participation programme for future surveys at
both dive operations. Interested divers should contact Alex
Hill or Phylis Jaureguy.
During the dives, buddy teams surveyed the lines together then combined
their results. We were delighted to find many new hard coral colonies on
both the sites surveyed. For more information on what they found, read
the full report. For
more information, contact Helen at Resort
In the past year, Reef Checks were conducted
at 72 sites in 36 locations in 12 provinces. These surveys involved at
least 486 volunteers and participants, and were supported by approximately 70 local
2003 RC activities, including two Earth Day events, were covered by magazines, TV stations, newsletters, newspapers, and radio stations. The
development of the RC Network in Indonesia was presented and
socialized at one national (COREMAP National Workshop) conference and two
international events (the ITMEMS II, the Philippines and Reef Check
Regional Training, Cebu, the Philippines).
The majority of Reef
Check activities (53 sites) in Indonesia this year were funded by Reef Check
International. The average
grants available for each location, including the
press conferences and media events were US$ 240 to US$ 290. Some activities were funded by individual institutions.
The number of sites shows
an increase of approximately 100% compared to the 2002 data, despite the lower
amount of grant money provided by Reef Check Indonesia.
This was achieved by widening the network and its
support, through increasing the awareness and involvement of local
stakeholders. There were a growing number of organisations and
institutions conducting Reef Check in Indonesia and report directly to Reef Check
International. As a result, Reef Check Network Indonesia (RCNI) decided to run as an independent
entity starting this year. WWF Indonesia
provided substantial support by hosting RCNI,
and actively advising the process. For more information, contact Naneng.
Contributed by Ton Egbers & Marjan
van der Burg
Check Indonesia expanded its horizons by doing the first ever Reef Check
in Pulau Weh, Aceh, the most northwestern tip of Indonesia. Led
by Ton Egbers & Marjan
van der Burg from the Lumba Lumba
Diving Centre, their efforts to continue Reef Check here have not come without challenges.
The province has been under martial law since May and foreign tourists are
currently not allowed in. As a result, all dive operations on the island
of Sabang, where Ton and Marjan are located, have essentially ceased.
Despite this, they were still able to resurvey the same site in October,
albeit at a smaller scale than was originally planned.
Contributed by Abigail Moore
Moore of YACL (Yayasan Adi
Citra Lestari), has been busy with Reef Check in Central Sulawesi this
year. In addition to her Reef Check activities, a year-long turtle data
collection and conservation programme was initiated in the Pulau Pasoso
MPA. Click here to read her full report
on Reef Check Central Sulawesi 2003.
Contributed by Jane Smith
The Tukang Besi
Archipelago is a remote island group of about 200,000 ha, off S.E Sulawesi.
It consists of all the major reef formations – atolls, barrier, fringing
and patch reefs. There are 4 major islands – Wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and
Binongko with a total of about 100,000 people. Reef Check got off to a
great start in the Wakatobi Marine National Park during the 2003 season. A
total of 16 sites were
surveyed during the period of July- August by 23 volunteers from diverse
backgrounds including divers, students and members of the local
majority of the data collection took place from a locally owned boat, the
Sama Bahari. Reef Check teams lived aboard the boat for 4-5 days, allowing many of the outer lying reefs to be surveyed. Close
access to the reefs was achieved using a rubber dingy (volunteers initially
kitting up to be very challenging!). A big thanks to all the
volunteers who participated in the 2003 season. We hope the 2004 season
will be just as successful. Contact Jane
Smith for more information.
Malaysia, three separate Reef Check teams surveyed the country’s reefs.
This summer, an expedition from Singapore surveyed 15 sites in the Pulau
Banggi Region. Coral Cay
Conservation also surveyed sites (see below
for more details). RC coordinator Badrul
Huzaimi led teams in surveying an additional eight reefs in September
This last set of surveys drew the attention of local media- 3
articles can be found on The Star Online. Click on the following to read: Vital
corals under threat, Methodical marine monitor,
and Practical procedure.
Contributed by Fany Seguin
is a French Overseas Territory located in the SW Indian Ocean, NW of
Madagascar. This small island is encircled by a 200 km-long barrier reef,
which was severely affected by the 1998 bleaching episode. In contrast,
the fringing reefs were little affected by the bleaching and are in a
better condition than the barrier reef.
2001, despite gaining the support of the local Fisheries and marine Environment Office,
as well as of reef scientists from mainland France, the data from the
first RC surveys conducted by local volunteers and divers
could not be used due to the lack of a reef scientist on the team.
2002, Stéphanie Hernandez (who runs a dive club) and Fany
Seguin (marine consultant) decided to restart RC, supported by
Michel Pichon (French coordinator). Three sites were chosen and training sessions on RC methodology
were held for the divers. Three dive clubs participated in the surveying.
has been difficult
to organize Reef Checks since the team does not receive financial support from any
agency. Some local companies or administrations have helped RC by giving
or lending materials. The financial problem could be solved by the creation of a local RC
association, but many people don’t stay in Mayotte long enough
to do so. Still,
RC Mayotte is a success. After 2 years of activity, many
people want to participate and local newspapers report on RC activities.
For more information, contact Fany.
by Laurent Wantiez
In New Caledonia, surveying
ended on December 20th. This year, the survey program has been
extended to all New Caledonia territory including North Province (9 sites)
and Island Province (8 sites). Previously, only the South Province (15
sites) has been part of the program. The ROCR-NC (Réseau
d'observation des Récifs Coralliens) program for 2003-2005 is being financed by the French Initiative for Coral Reefs in New Caledonia (IFRECOR-NC).
RC coordinator Laurent Wantiez
sent us three press articles on RORC-NC activities that were
published in local newspapers:
Le bilan de sante annuel de nos recifs reactive
Mise en place du reseau d’observation des recifs
Les Cahiers de
et de l’environnement:
corallien: un écosystème à protéger
Contributed by Laurie Raymundo
Check surveys have been performed on Apo Island Marine Reserve since 1998. To date, we have a continuous 6-year data set from permanent
transects within the reserve, assessed each year between August and
September. Our volunteer divers have included members of the Apo Island
dive operators from the White Tip Dive Shop, members of the local press, graduate and
undergraduate students, Peace Corps volunteers, and sport divers from
Dumaguete City. This year, our surveys were conducted solely by undergraduate and graduate
students of Silliman University and participants from the Apo community.
The Reef Check methodology has been incorporated as a laboratory in Dr.
Raymundo’s Coral Reef Ecology course, so Biology seniors at Silliman
University are being trained in this methodology and have taken over the
surveys since 2002.
Reef Check surveys of the Apo Island sanctuary have produced one of the few long-term
data sets of this kind. Although
extensive work has been done on the Apo Island fishery, no regular
monitoring has been accomplished on substrate composition and the benthic
community, and even fish data are usually collected intensively for short
periods rather than annually for an extended period.
Through such monitoring, we have been able to record and monitor
responses to a major bleaching event, and quantify reef recovery over
here to read Laurie
Raymundo’s full report.
In September 2003, Reef Check Sri Lanka surveyed three sites- Coral
Island, Pigeon Island, and Dutch Bay in Trincomalee. These sites are the
first for the country to be added into the Reef Check global database.
Activities were led by Arjan Rajasuriya and Malik Fernando.
UNITED STATES- HAWAII
Contributed by Captain Paul Clark
On October 5, 2003, student participants in Save
Our Seas’ project Ocean Pulse at Sea sailed on Blue Dolphin
Charters’ drug free sailing vessel, “The Tropic Bird.” Save Our
Seas, a non-profit based in Kauai, has been active with Reef Check since
1997 when they organized the very first Reef Check. Students from the
Kapa’a Children's Discovery Museum and Myron B. Thompson Academy,
as well as community members, were taught by local educators from UH Sea
Grant, Reef Check, NOAA, and SOS about the flora, fauna and geology
of Kipu Kai and Maha'ulepu. A Reef Check survey was preformed within
the Nawiliwili harbor inside the break wall, and a myriad of interesting
and unique reef creatures and fish were found and surveyed. This
trip was also filmed by Storyteller Media, an international film crew
from Australia. For more information
about this unique drug free marine education program, contact Save
Some news for 2004
Check Europe and Europe Conservation Switzerland are jointly
organising two exciting events in February/March 2004:
1. From Feb 29 to March 12, 2004 we are offering a Reef Check Training
Course and Survey in the Andaman Sea at the West coast of Thailand. This
course will be organised in collaboration with the Phuket Marine Biology
2. From March 16 – 26, 2004 we are offering a 10-day Reef Check cruise
and volunteer expedition to the reefs off Myanmar (Burma). We will be
conducting surveys in the reefs of the Andaman sea for 10 days, departure
is scheduled for March 16 from Ranong (Thailand). If weather conditions
allow, we will be cruising up to the Mergui-archipelago.
If you are interested in joining either of these trips, please respond
soon by e-mail. Space is
limited, we will accept volunteers on a "first come, first
serve" basis. Find more information about this trip and Reef
Check 2001 and 2003 in Burma on http://www.reefcheck.de/en
In 2003, Reef Check Egypt was comprised of 4 teams led by Constanze
Conrad, Georg Heiss, Mohammed Kotb, and Gert Woerheide.
by Constanze Conrad
Reef Check 2003 in southern Egypt ended successfully. Team Leader Constanze
Conrad managed to arrange two Reef Checks, held in May and September,
in the southern Red Sea area. 31 Volunteers from Egypt, Germany,
Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, UK and USA came especially to
participate in Reef Check.
Thanks to the support of Blue
Heaven Holidays, all Reef Check teams were based at Tondoba Bay, 14 km
south of Marsa Alam, a newly developed bay and diving destination with
upcoming, fast growing diving tourism. In all, 7 sites have been
surveyed- five of them new sites never surveyed before and two sites that
have been regularly surveyed since Reef Check 2001.
Some news for 2004:
Blue Heaven Holidays is exhibiting on the BOOT
2004 (January 17 – 25, 2004 ) in Düsseldorf, Germany, the biggest
European diving and watersport fair.
As a sponsor of Reef Check, Blue Heaven Holidays is giving
Constanze the opportunity to join them as a Reef Check representative at their
On Saturday the 24th of January 2004 a special event, the Reef Check
Reunion Day, is planned at the stand of Blue Heaven Holidays (stand number
3 C81) where all volunteers who have ever participated in a Reef Check
program in Egypt (or elsewhere) can meet again.
Please contact Constanze
SHARM EL SHEIK, SINAI
dedicated divers from Germany followed team scientist Gert
Wörheide to Sharm el Sheik, September 30 2003 to
October 05 2003. Besides Gert Wörheide, who has been involved in Reef
Check in this region since 1997, it was the first Reef Check campaign for
all volunteers. Due to excellent preparation at home, only brief training
and familiarization with Reef Check procedures was necessary on site.
During the 5 days of diving, three transects were checked at
Ras Ghozlani (Ras Mohamed National Park), Jackson Reef (Straits of Tiran)
and Ras Bob (close to Naama Bay). A planned check at Yolanda Reef (Ras
Mohamed) could not be performed because the transect line (with a
brand-new reel!) was stolen from the site. The end of September is peak
season for this highly popular dive region and recreational divers were
always present at or near the Reef Check sites, often swimming through the
transect. Without the extensive help and cooperation of the guides and
staff from Sinai Divers, our
local partners, this successful trip would not have been possible! All
team members enjoyed a nice and very memorable Reef Check trip to a still
very beautiful dive area.