It has been three years since Reef Check Oman was founded by graduates of Biosphere Expeditions’ placement program. Run by Omanis for Omanis, the chapter’s goal is to preserve the country’s coral reefs, which are not only beautiful, but also the foundation of local livelihoods, sustainable tourism and traditional ways of life. And it has been doing just that.
In the past three years, Reef Check Oman has achieved several historic milestones: it conducted the first-ever community-based reef survey near the capital Muscat in early 2017. Later that year, Oman’s first two Reef Check EcoDiver Trainers took on a leading role as citizen scientists in the country’s reef conservation efforts. Since then the organization has delivered presentations at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat and trained more Omani divers to survey reefs.
Jenan Al Asfoor, the organization’s founder, says: “In Oman, we are blessed to have a beautiful coastline of over 3,000 km. With this comes a big responsibility of protecting our coral reefs, which sustain the livelihoods of many coastal communities and also brings tourism to our shores. It is up to us as Omanis to do this and Reef Check Oman is there to play its role by empowering divers to help survey and protect our reefs. The more people we have, the better, so I encourage everyone in Oman to join us, whether they are divers or not. If you are a diver, we will teach you how to survey and protect reefs. If you are not, there are many other ways you can help. Just get in touch via our website www.reefcheckoman.org”.
Dr. Matthias Hammer, Executive Director of Biosphere Expeditions, says that he is “delighted to see Reef Check Oman thrive like this. This is exactly what our placement program seeks to achieve: empowering local people and communities to survey and protect nature in their own backyard. Because intact nature is very often the bedrock for people’s prosperity, well-being and way of life, local people are best placed to do what is needed. I congratulate Jenan Al Asfoor and her compatriots for this very impressive effort.”