Reef Check is a non-profit organization leading citizen scientists to promote stewardship of sustainable reef communities worldwide.
Reef Check’s Vision: Thriving reefs, cared for by communities sustained for generations to come.
Founded in 1996, the Reef Check Foundation is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of tropical coral reefs and temperate kelp forests. With offices in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, California and volunteer teams in more than 40 countries and territories, Reef Check’s mission is to lead citizen scientists who promote stewardship of sustainable reef communities around the globe.
Reef Check performs three vital tasks necessary to promote stewardship of sustainable reef communities worldwide:
- We train and organize teams of local volunteer citizen scientist divers. They collect data on reef health and assess climate change impacts on their reefs. Their work produces reliable information used by marine resource managers, scientists, and policymakers to make science-based ocean management and conservation decisions.
- We promote public education about reefs and the ocean. Our goal is to develop a team of ocean ambassadors with the skills and knowledge to make a tangible difference in marine conservation in their local communities. Our immersive youth education programs train participants to understand the threats marine ecosystems face and give them the tools to become ocean stewards.
- We develop ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions for reef conservation and restoration.
In 1997, Reef Check conducted the first-ever global survey of coral reef health. The survey provided scientific evidence of a worldwide crisis- caused by overfishing and pollution- in the condition of our coral reefs. Since then, Reef Check’s fast-growing network has expanded throughout all tropical seas with the objective to preserve and sustain their reef ecosystems. In 2005, Reef Check launched its first temperate reef program in California. Reef Check California has grown to be the largest citizen science monitoring group collecting data on California’s kelp forests and its statewide Marine Protected Area (MPA) network. In 2016, this program expanded into climate change monitoring and is now providing ocean temperature data from over 90 sites, and is monitoring ocean acidification at key sites in California’s MPAs.
Reef Check’s EMBARC program was launched in 2018 to expand our citizen science work to educating young people from some of the most disadvantaged communities in California. This interactive marine education program gives students a chance to become marine biologists for the day and a first-hand experience of the ocean environment.
Most recently, Reef Check began working on restoring kelp forests in Northern California, with the hope of reversing some of the devastating effects from the recent collapse of the kelp forest along this stretch of coastline. This project aims to restore some of the lost ecosystem and also provide a substantial economic benefit to the local fishing community, which has been hard hit by the effective loss of its two most important fisheries.