September 16, 2016

20th Anniversary Celebrations – Reef Check Honors International Ocean Heroes

Julian Hyde, Dr. Gregor Hodgson, Michael Weber, Dr. Ruben Torres, Dr. Matthias Hammer

Reef Check honored five 'Heroes of the Reef' for their outstanding ocean conservation contributions at its 20th Anniversary “Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans” gala on the beach in Santa Monica, California on September 15th. Michael Weber, author of “The Wealth of the Oceans” received the Poseidon Award in recognition of his global conservation accomplishments while at the Center for Marine Conservation, the California Fish and Game Commission and Resources Legacy Fund. Weber's early support enabled the Reef Check California program to get off the ground. Weber stated:

“Reef Check has raised the credibility of citizen science and has become a close collaborator with the state's universities and a trusted partner with the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Reef Check has set a standard for citizen science worth emulating.
Reef Check divers will be able to document the recovery of ocean communities in and around the state's network of marine protected areas. And as a result, Reef Check will be able to tell the kind of hopeful story that will inspire others to care and to act.”

The first Hero of the Reef Awardee Dr. Ruben Torres, Director of Reef Check Dominican Republic, was honored for 10 years of coral reef conservation including installing a network of mooring buoys, the co-management of the La Caleta marine park, the creation of a sustainable seafood program and a series of recipes for lionfish, a Pacific species that has invaded the Caribbean. 

The second Hero of the Reef Awardee, Julian Hyde, Director of Reef Check Malaysia, was also honored for 10 years of coral reef conservation including pioneering the use of hydrophones to track blast fishing, the improvement of MPA effectiveness at Tioman Island, and the creation of a dugong sanctuary at Sibu Island.

Biosphere Expeditions founder Dr. Matthias Hammer received the Reef Stewardship Award for his 15 years of global conservation activities including the creation of Reef Check expeditions for divers in the Maldives, Malaysia and Oman.
This year's Citizen Scientist of the Year Award was presented to Keith Rootsaert, a California volunteer diver since 2010 who made more than 180 survey dives for Reef Check.

The Reef Check Board and Staff are grateful to all those who attended, bid, donated, and volunteered to make the 20th Anniversary Gala a success! Special thanks to sponsors Houlihan Lokey, Body Glove, Edison International, SWAGTRON, Gary L. Justice, Plumbers Depot Inc., Atlantis Resorts, Paul Gauguin Cruises, and Myers's Rum Platinum White.

Click here for more photos from the gala


Hero of the Reef Awardee Dr. Ruben Torres with Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson Hero of the Reef Awardee Julian Hyde with Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson Reef Stewardship Awardee Dr. Matthias Hammer with Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson Poseidon Awardee Michael Weber with Reef Check California's Founding Director Dr. Craig Shuman
DreamVacation provided music for the evening Queen Angel Sponsor SWAGTRON also donated theirs products to the silent auction The evening's awards all ready to go Citizen Scientist of the Year Keith Rootsaert with Reef Check California Central Coast Manager Dan Abbott