Volume 6 - Issue 1, March 2006
Site Spotlight - Guatemala
Reef Check Champion - Jason Auclair and Mike Segda
Reef Check News
|Site Spotlight- Guatemala|
end of 2005 saw the beginning of a new Reef Check program in Guatemala, a
country located in central America with reefs on both Pacific and Caribbean
coasts. In late November, biologist Guillermo “Mito” Paz, from Green
Reef Institution of Belize, introduced personnel from local NGOs, government
agencies, universities, as well as local fishermen and dive school staff
to the Reef Check monitoring methodology. Staff from the
is one of the participating countries in the ICRAN Meso-American Reef
Project, funded by USAID/UNF; RC’s role in the project is to encourage the
involvement of local fishermen in coral reef conservation. It is hoped that
these trainings will give an incentive to this important socio-economic
sector to switch to tourism-related activities. Since many Guatemalan reefs
are at a depth greater than 20ft, these fishermen will need to be scuba
trained in order to survey their reefs.
the first training was promising; participants are enthusiastic to form the
Guatemala Reef Check team and are ready to conduct more surveys.
you are interested in helping out with Reef Check Guatemala, contact our
coordinator, Lucia M. Gutierrez
|Reef Check Champion- Jason Auclair & Mike Segda|
Reef Check has experienced a lot of growth and some great successes over the past 10 years thanks to the committed volunteers who conduct Reef Check surveys on a regular basis. It’s all about local people making a difference, and the people helping out with the new California program are no different – meet Jason Auclair and Mike Segda. They aren’t big businessmen and they sure aren’t scientists with doctorates in marine biology. Instead, they are two of California’s hardest working scuba instructors who believe that monitoring the local rocky reefs is important enough to give up a lot of free time and effort to support the fledgling RC California program. Since the launch of the program last year, whenever help was needed, Jason and Mike have been there. Whether working as dive masters on in-water video shoots or helping out in the office with the development of Reef Check’s training programs, these two divers have been an important asset in the program’s fast start. They’ve also gotten their employers involved. Jason’s bosses at Sherwood Scuba and Cramer-Decker Industries, a world-leader in scuba diving, encouraged Jason to support the program. As a result, all Reef Check HQ scientists are safe and well equipped in the temperamental waters of California’s central coast. Rocky Stickel, Mike’s boss and owner of Scuba Haus in Santa Monica, has let Mike turn this venerable California dive shop into “dive central” for Reef Check staffers, filling tanks and making sure that everyone who walks in the door learns about Reef Check. It is sometimes hard to find a spirit of local stewardship in a city of over 3 million people, but thanks to the hard work and commitment of Mike and Jason, the Reef Check spirit is alive and growing here in California.
|Reef Check News|
Check Travels to Hawai’i For the Kelly Slater Celebrity Surf
Involving celebrities with Reef Check draws attention to the Coral Reef Crisis. In February we joined a host of Hollywood stars and some of the best surfers in the world at the Kelly Slater Celebrity Surf Invitational in Kona, Hawai’i. A surf/lifestyle event filmed for an MTV special, the event focused on surfing, marine conservation, and fun in the sun for a host of celebrities including Incubus, Jack Osbourne, G.Love, Tony Hawk and Ashlee Simpson. In addition to interacting with the guests of the event to raise their awareness about our efforts, we established the Kelly Slater Reef Check Survey Site to honor Kelly Slater for his continued support of our conservation efforts.
environment is celebrated in many ways, such as dedicating a day (Earth
Day) or an entire year to a special environmental cause. To follow this
idea, Reef Check is launching Reef Check Months to annually dedicate one
month to celebrate the world’s coral reefs in each hemisphere:
July (Northern Hemisphere) and December (Southern Hemisphere).
Check encourages everyone to participate, even if you aren’t a team
member – hold a fundraiser, educate your peers about coral reefs, talk
to your dive shops, or become a Reef Check member. Help us save coral
Check’s annual fundraiser will take place at a scenic Beverly Hills
estate and will honor Jean-Michel Cousteau for his lifetime achievements
in marine conservation. We will also be honoring “Mermaids of the
Reef,” singer/ actress Barbi Benton and two-time Oscar nominated songwriter
Carol Connors. The three honorees are pictured here diving in Fiji. Come
rub shoulders with Hollywood stars and musical legends, enjoy delicious
food and drink, and bid on fabulous silent and live auction items.
proceeds will go to benefit Reef Check's worldwide programs.
Clive Wilkinson, Coordinator of the Global
Coral Reef Monitoring Network met with Reef Check supporters and
community members in February to discuss the health of reef ecosystems
worldwide and the impact of the recent tsunami. Before a packed crowd at
The Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California, Dr. Wilkinson started
the first leg of his cross-country tour promoting the release of GCRMN’s
report “Status of Coral Reefs in Tsunami Affected Countries.” Results
of post-event surveys, compiled in partnership with regional Reef Check
teams, showed the majority of reefs in the Indian Ocean region escaped
serious damage with major exceptions being reported in Indonesia,
Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Tempering the results with optimism, Dr.
Wilkinson reported that with effective management, the majority of damaged
reefs can all recover in the next 5-10 years. The major threat to all
reefs, as he pointed out, remains human activities.
Underwater Hawai’i Field Guides On Sale!
Reef Check Releases Aceh Report
last issue covered the multinational expedition to Aceh Province in
Indonesia to monitor the effect of the December 2004 earthquake and
tsunami on coral reefs. The final report was published
in January and can be downloaded off
most of you know, the end of 2005 and start of 2006 brought a lot of swell
activity to California’s coast.
While the waves were great for surfing, the diving conditions were
less than ideal.
Fortunately, we had plenty to do here in the office busily preparing
for the upcoming trainings while we waited for diving conditions to improve.
We have just completed our comprehensive training curriculum and
course materials that will not only teach you how to accurately complete
Reef Check California surveys, but will provide you with an introduction to
the physical and biological processes that drive California’s
extraordinary underwater environment.
Participants who complete the training course will be eligible to
submit data to our California database and will be issued a Reef Check
California specialty certification card.
to the overwhelming response to our initial trainings, we will be scheduling
additional trainings to be held in the fall and will begin work on our
Training of Trainers program to increase the number of accredited
While we do not yet have the capacity to train all the interested
divers in California, we are starting a new campaign that all divers can
spring will mark the start of our “1,000
With the slogan that “one thousand divers can make a difference”
this membership campaign aims to unite California’s divers under the
common objectives of science and sound management of our shared coastal
Although divers tend to fall into different categories (hunters,
photographers, recreational, etc.) we all must unite to protect our rocky
reefs that we so passionately enjoy.
|Mark Your Calendars|
Thailand Earthwatch Expeditions
Bangkok, Phuket or Trat, Thailand
Dates: March 2006 to November 2006
Duration: 10 days
Share of Cost: $2595
Snorkel and dive Thailand’s amazing coral reefs, some of the most magnificent and diverse on earth. Like many of the world’s reef systems, Thailand’s reefs are facing the pressures of overfishing and destructive fishing practices, as well as threats posed by global warming and coral diseases. Dr. Georg Heiss and Kim Obermeyer, Reef Check coordinators, are joining forces with Earthwatch to do baseline assessments of Thailand’s reefs and to set up a long-term monitoring program.
Click here for more information about the Thailand EcoExpedition and how to sign up.
Maldives RC EcoExpedition
Tauchreisen will donate 10% of the earnings to Reef Check.
the Red Sea in the best way possible – a one-week liveaboard safari on
Ghazala I. You will be accompanied by marine biologists, who will
introduce you to the Reef Check survey protocol. At the end of each day,
the Reef Check biologist will comment on the results of the dives and
give a closer look into the complexity of coral reefs. The famous
dive-sites in Ras Mohammed and Tiran are part of the itinerary.
Earth Day with Reef Check in California
at Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach: April 22, 11am-4pm
Classic Underwater Photography Contest: May 13-21, 2006: Kona, Hawai’i
|Reef Check Teams in Action|
Malaysia Formally Meets at the International Media and Environment Summit
in Kuching, Sarawak
the International Media and Environment Summit as a backdrop, RC
coordinator Stuart Green, representing RC Philippines and Indonesia and
also acting as chair of the marine session, met with Reef Check Malaysia
stakeholders for a strategic planning workshop to discuss the future of
the country’s program.
2005, RC Egypt coordinator Dr. Mohammed M.A. Kotb led a workshop for
volunteer and sport divers of Kuwait that gave an extensive overview of
Reef Check and also encouraged local diving organizations to get involved.
This year, the effort continues- Dr. Kotb is working on plans for Kuwaiti
divers to travel to Egypt to be officially trained in the Reef Check
The divers would then have the necessary tools to start a program
back in Kuwait. He hopes that RC Kuwait will come together sometime this
INCO Sets Priorities For Reefs of the Persian Gulf
Reef Check coordinator Abdulvahab
center, the Iranian
National Center for Oceanography (INCO), was officially selected as
the regional node for the Global Coral Reef
Monitoring Network, of which Reef Check is the official community
monitoring program. Since then, seven countries in the Persian Gulf and
Sea of Oman have been selected to make up the GCRMN National Network: the United
Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, and Saudi
Arabia. This year, the network chose three new reef sites to
monitor: Kish Island (Iran), Jubail (Saudi Arabia) and Dimaniyat (Oman).
Amadis Project Completes Its Pacific Leg
completed their work in the South Pacific on September 15th, 2005.
Thirty-seven Reef Check surveys were conducted over the two months of the
‘Pacific Leg’ of the project.
The yacht ‘Amadis’, skippered by Lily Kozmian-Ledward, provides a
means to access remote islands and reefs. The ‘Pacific Leg’ of the
project departed from Panama in May 2005 with five people onboard headed
by Science coordinator Gwenael Hemery.
Dominican Republic Helps Government Combat the Illegal Marine Aquarium
RC Dominican Republic Helps Government Combat the Illegal Marine Aquarium Trade
Check has been working for over five years with the Marine
Aquarium Council (MAC), an international, not-for-profit organization
based in Honolulu. MAC's mission is to conserve coral reefs and other
marine ecosystems by creating standards and certification for those
engaged in the collection and care of ornamental marine life from reef to
aquarium. To do this, MAC brings marine aquarium organism collectors,
exporters, importers and retailers together with aquarium keepers, public
aquaria, conservation organizations and government agencies. Reef Check
supports MAC certification as one way to provide financial incentives for
coral reef conservation.
|Coral Reefs In the News|
Check Philippines and Indonesia Partner in the Marine Aquarium Market
Transformation Initiative (MAMTI)
would Reef Check work with one of the world’s destructive fisheries (the
use of cyanide, associated with habitat destruction and unsustainable
collection techniques)? The MAMTI
(Marine Market Transformation Initiative) brings
Marine Aquarium Council
(MAC), the Conservation and
Community Investment Forum (CCIF ), and Reef Check, as key project
The project aims to transform the marine aquarium trade from an
unmanaged industry, with the potential to damage coral reefs through
illegal poison fishing and over-harvesting to a more conservation-friendly
one. Fishermen are trained to collect and handle fish following particular
guidelines, therefore providing a healthier and “green” certified
product to retailers and customers. MAMTI is a five-year project with
offices in Manila, Philippines, and Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. It is
funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented
by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Reef Check ‘niche’ in MAMTI
Check brings its wealth of scientific experience in the Philippines and
Indonesia to this initiative, and focuses on fisheries monitoring,
rehabilitation and management. The Reef Check MAMTI team in the
Philippines has a staff of fourteen highly experienced and motivated
scientists, with backgrounds in coral reef ecology, social science and
integrated coastal management.
Reef Check Indonesia has also hired six additional specialized
professionals to implement our work in Indonesia.
|What You Can Do To Help Coral Reefs|
is here… as well as the international events celebrating the
Environment. From Earth Day to World Ocean Day, environment friendly
activists won’t get bored! If YOU want to join us in our quest to save
coral reefs worldwide, you couldn’t ask for a better time!
22, 2006: Earth Day
also joins the Coral Reef Alliance for their “Dive In To Earth Day”
Week as people around the world plan special events to celebrate our
planet’s aquatic ecosystems.
5, 2006: World Environment Day
World Environment Day can be celebrated in many ways, including street rallies, parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean-up campaigns and much more. In many countries, this annual event is used to enhance political attention and action. Although this year’s theme is the “Desert”, let’s not forget about our coral reefs!
8, 2006: World Ocean Day
Visit the Ocean Project Website to find out what events are held in your area, and how you can help. You could also sign the petition to make June 8th the official international ocean celebration!
you can celebrate our coral reefs
can help make a difference by making these events relevant and successful.
Be a concerned citizen!
|Support Reef Check|
is quickly approaching….Be ready to face the sun with Reef Check
tax deductible gift of $25 or more entitles you to all the benefits of a
Reef Check Membership:
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Check Hats: $15*
Reef Check: Saving
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