Our mission is simple—but not really.

Every year, we train thousands of citizen scientist volunteers to survey the health of tropical coral reefs around the world and kelp forest ecosystems along the entire coast of California.

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What we do and how.

Experts use the results from our dives to improve the way we manage our natural resources. Reef Check programs provide ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions to save our reefs. We create partnerships among community volunteers, government agencies, businesses, universities, and other nonprofits.

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Tropical Program

With divers who survey the health and status of coral reefs, the Tropical Program uses a globally standardized scientific protocol to collect valuable data for reef management. Our EcoDiver teams span 102 countries and territories to help preserve and protect our coral reefs.

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leanne inverts north horn reef check
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California Program

The purpose of the Reef Check California Program is to educate, train, and engage our community to monitor the health of our kelp forests. Local citizen scientist divers volunteer their time to support science-based management and marine conservation.

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Reef Check Monterey California Program
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Education Program

Our Education Program is an engaging and interactive course that gives students the opportunity to experience a day as a marine biologist. We teach awareness of our ocean resources and aim to inspire a new class of citizen scientists.

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Reef Check Boat Trip

Data is important to us.

Reef Check has coordinators, teams, and EcoDiver training facilities in countries around the world. Since the first Reef Check coral reef monitoring survey in 1997, our EcoDivers have completed over 14,000 surveys in 102 countries and territories. Our initiative is built on over 20 years of global reef health data.

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Lingcod are ferocious predators with big mouths and lots of very sharp teeth. Usually seen in Northern California, they can grow to be around five feet long!

Tropical Program

Together, we’ve completed 14,568

SURVEYSIN

102 Countries & Territories

California Program

Together, we’ve completed 1,232

SURVEYSAt

112 Sites

Education Program

Together, we’ve taught 1,300

StudentsFrom

32 Schools

The Octopus is a soft-bodied mollusk in the class Cephalopoda. Found in all the world’s oceans, there are almost 300 identified species. The word octopus comes from the Greek, októpus, which means "eight foot."

Anemones(Order Actinaria)

Species Data

Anemones are related to jellyfish, corals, and hydroids.
In California, Reef Check volunteers count all anemones larger than 10 cm wide and/or 10 cm tall.
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

California Sheephead(Semicossyphus pulcher)

Species Data

The females that do turn into males usually change when they are about eight years old.
California Sheephead are typically found in Southern California and down to Baja California.
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

California Sea Cucumber

Species Data

They are extremely important to the environment because they are detritivores which are animals that break down organic matter.
The California Sea Cucumber are typically seen from Central California to Alaska.
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Horn Shark(Heterodontus francisci)

Species Data

They are nocturnal and are usually found by Reef Check divers, hiding in holes and deep caves within the rocky reef.
They can reach up to three feet in length, but no one knows how old they live to be.
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Cabezon(Scorpaenichthys marmoratus)

Species Data

Cabezon are typically seen and counted on Central and Northern California surveys but can sometimes be found in Southern California as well.
Cabezon are a popular fish for recreational fishermen and the live fish fishery.
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Long-spined Black Sea Urchin(Echinothrix diadema)

Species Data

In the Caribbean, absence or low numbers may indicate urchin disease; high numbers are an indicator of overfishing of urchin predators
In the Indo-Pacific, high numbers are an indicator of overfishing of urchin predators
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Banded Coral Shrimp(Stenopus hispidus)

Species Data

These shrimp are among the cleaner shrimps that feed on parasites that live upon other reef organisms
They are fairly hard to see because they live under rocks and in crevices, but have very obvious red and white stripes and long, white antennae
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Grouper

Species Data

For Reef Check, only grouper greater than 30cm in length are counted since large numbers of small species can obscure overfishing of species that grow to larger sizes
Is a global tropical indicator organism of overfishing and the live fish trade
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Moray Eel

Species Data

Is a global tropical indicator organism of overfishing
Eels tend to hide in holes on the reef – you’ll rarely see them swimming around
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

Parrotfish

Species Data

For Reef Check, only parrotfish greater than 20cm in length are counted since large numbers of small species can obscure overfishing of species that grow to larger sizes
All species in the Scaridae family are counted
Want to learn more? Visit the Global Reef Tracker

News and Events

Keep up with Reef Check! Get the latest news and information about how we’re contributing to the global effort to save and preserve coral reefs and kelp forests.

Reef Check Becomes an AAUS Organizational Member

August 31, 2021

Reef Check is now an organizational member of AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences)! Being an AAUS member makes it easier for scientific divers from other institutions to dive on…

Yakumi Global Fund to Benefit Reef Check

August 31, 2021

Yakumi, the premium, fast-casual sushi concept located in Burbank, California recently announced the launch of the Yakumi Global Fund, of which Reef Check has been chosen as its inaugural charity…

Reef Check Malaysia Talks Reef Resilience (Part 2)

August 31, 2021

In Part 1 of this article series, Reef Check Malaysia suggested that one approach to conserving reefs is to support resilience to maintain ecosystem services. One way to do this…

Reef Check’s Kelp Forest Restoration Project is Front Page News!

August 27, 2021

The August 12, 2021 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle featured Reef Check and its North Coast kelp restoration project on the front page, in a story titled ‘Nursing ailing…

Photo of the Week: September 21, 2021

Reef Check's tropical program is divided into regions such as the Indo-Pacific, Caribbean and the Red Sea. Find out more about our protocol here.

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Members Worldwide

Become a Reef Check member or volunteer your time. You can even join our Adopt-A-Reef program and support our community-based monitoring and conservation of our coral reefs and kelp forests. Like the ocean, our opportunities to get involved are endless.

Reef Check Key Supporters Include: