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 Tropical diver

2020 Year in Review

December 17, 2020

By Reef Check Executive Director Jan Freiwald This has been by no means an ordinary year! Despite all the uncertainty and complications of bringing people together, we are proud of…

sun star Solaster stimpsoni

California’s Changing Ocean: Curious Observations in 2020

December 17, 2020

By Maxwell Seale, Reef Check California’s Central Coast Volunteer Coordinator The first-ever evidence of Sargassum horneri in the Monterey Bay This year, Reef Check divers made several important observations beyond…

Dillon Dolinar

Reflections from a Volunteer Coordinator: My First Field Season with Reef Check

December 17, 2020

By Dillon Dolinar, Reef Check California’s Southern California Volunteer Coordinator As I think back on my first year as the Southern California Volunteer Coordinator, it is safe to say that…

Video Spotlight – RCCA: 2020 Coast to Coast

December 17, 2020

https://youtu.be/LM0PaopJ2K0 This year, Reef Check California's Citizen Scientists surveyed over 100 sites along the California coast to collect data for our long term monitoring program. This video contains footage and…

gorgonian

Photo of the Week: January 21, 2021

Gorgonian (sea fans and sea whips) is a Reef Check indicator organism in the Caribbean due to its links to the Flamingo Tongue sea snail and the disease Aspergillosis.

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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: