logo sticker

Today, we are proud to present Reef Check’s new logo and website! Our new logo features the key elements of a diver, fish, coral reef and kelp forest and we feel that it is a cohesive representation of what Reef Check stands for: leading citizen scientists to promote stewardship of sustainable reef communities worldwide.

Since the launch of our California program in 2005, Reef Check has been dedicated to the conservation of both tropical coral reefs and temperate kelp forests. We are training and leading citizen scientists to study reefs around the globe and develop conservation and restoration solutions to improve the health of reefs and the human communities that depend on them.

We also invite you to check out our online store to pick up some new logo swag!

By Tristin McHugh, Reef Check California North Coast Manager

North Coast Kelp Forest Restoration project

Reef Check California’s North Coast Kelp Forest Restoration project has begun! Since 2014, bull kelp in northern California, primarily along the Sonoma and Mendocino county coastline, has declined more than 90% due to a combination of extreme warm water events and multiple ecological stressors, including significant increases in purple sea urchin populations, which feed upon the kelp. This has led to a large-scale shift from bull kelp forests to urchin barrens across most of the region. This shift has caused significant losses of kelp forest biodiversity and ecosystem services, resulting in the collapse of the North Coast commercial red urchin fishery ($3 Million ex-vessel value) beginning in 2015 and the closure of the recreational red abalone fishery (estimated at $44 Million non-market value) in 2018.

Earlier this month, Reef Check and partners began to remove purple urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) from a restoration area in North Noyo Harbor, Fort Bragg (Caspar Cove is the next site this effort will target). The goal of this collaborative project is to ultimately catalyze a phase shift from urchin barren to kelp forest on targeted reefs. Furthermore, we are assessing if purple urchin densities can be reduced and maintained over time to allow kelp to grow and serve as a kelp oasis, providing spores (kelp seeds) to surrounding areas. This project will play a vital role in determining how resource managers choose to move forward with kelp restoration strategies statewide, thus helping to evaluate the costs and benefits of human intervention in a dynamic oceanic environment.

North Coast Kelp Forest Restoration project

Prior to urchin removal efforts, Reef Check divers collected ecosystem information (such as fish, invertebrate and algae densities) to get a picture of what reefs looked like at the time at which restoration began in areas to be restored and in other areas that will not be touched. Following the removal of urchin, Reef Check divers will conduct quality control surveys to assess the effectiveness of the effort and ecosystem surveys to compare reefs before and after restoration with reefs that will not be restored. Making these comparisons will allow us to evaluate the outcome of the restoration efforts. This provides Reef Check and managers with the information necessary to help guide where resources and urchin removal efforts are most needed and effective. 

After urchins are removed from the restoration area, they are taken back to Noyo Harbor where Reef Check staff and volunteers further process the urchins and measure a number things such as weight and size of urchins and bycatch to better understand the methods used to remove urchin and also investigate the  biology of the urchin occupying the reef. Stay tuned in the coming year as we further develop this program (Funding Source: Ocean Protection Council).

Submitted by Reef Check Malaysia

Malaysia International Coastal Clean-up

Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) has been conducting annual beach clean-ups in conjunction with the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) for several years now, and the effort will continue this year on September 19th amidst the ongoing pandemic. The main sponsor for ICC 2020 is Garnier, and RCM is also working with Coca-Cola as a media partner for the third year.

Last year, 11,900 volunteers collected almost 37,000kg of trash. The top five trash items were plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic grocery bags and plastic bottle caps.

This year, the ICC takes on another serious issue: the increase in plastic litter brought about by COVID-19. In the past few months, there has been an increase in single use plastic, especially in the form of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and face masks. This haphazard littering poses a health risk, especially if these PPEs are contaminated. We see them in supermarket trolleys, along the streets, on sidewalks, and even in playgrounds. News reports have also indicated that discarded face masks have made it to the ocean! Even as the world battles this deadly pandemic and is focused on staying safe and healthy, we must not forget to care for our environment.

International Coastal Clean-up

As the health and safety of all the volunteers are the highest priority, RCM will closely follow guidance from health authorities during the clean-up effort. A complete set of guidelines, including instructions from Ocean Conservancy, will be distributed which will detail all the necessary precautionary measures to be taken. RCM is in the midst of recruiting more volunteers and partners around the country for this year’s event. If you’d like to be a part of this effort, you can sign up at https://tinyurl.com/icc2020malaysia, or drop them an email at cleanup@reefcheck.org.my. Join the Facebook group for this event to receive the latest updates. They also have an array of programs that you can do from the comfort of your own home. Let us all play our part together, for our communities and our ocean.

By Reef Check Australia

2019-2020 South East Queensland Season Summary Report

Despite delays caused by unfavorable weather conditions and the pandemic, Reef Check Australia’s (RCA) awesome volunteers still managed to wrap up the 2019-2020 South East Queensland survey season on time. Over the season, RCA monitored 40 different locations on 20 different reefs, stretching from Mudjimba to Palm Beach, covering 16,800m2 of reef habitat and collecting over 7000 pieces of data. Not surprisingly, given that the area has rocky reefs, the most recorded substrate type was rock, but hard coral came in at 13%. Hard and soft coral cover remained relatively stable across the survey area and coral bleaching was observed on fewer sites this season, but was slightly higher on average than last season. To find out more about what was recorded, check out the full 2019-2020 SEQ Season Summary Report or the infographic below that gives you an overview of the findings.

This project is supported by Reef Check Australia, through funding from the City of Gold Coast, Queensland Government Community Sustainability Action Grant, Port of Brisbane, and the Sunshine Coast Council.

reef check australia infographic