January 27, 2010

Catalina Islanders Survey Their Local Rocky Reefs

By Reef Check California Regional Manager Colleen Wisniewski

CIMI staff members during the August 2008 RCCA training

In January 2008, Reef Check California (RCCA) started working with marine science instructors at Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI) to survey their local kelp forests. CIMI is part of Guided Discoveries, which operates three sites on Catalina Island, Astrocamp in the mountains of Idyllwild, and CIMI Tall Ship Expeditions out of Long Beach. Guided Discoveries was founded in 1978 and works with over 45,000 children annually in their various outdoor education programs. 

RC staffers Colleen Wisniewski and Cyndi Dawson both previously worked at CIMI and knew that these marine science instructors would make an excellent team of surveyors due to their extensive knowledge of the indicator species and their local reefs. These enthusiastic divers get the typical four-day training compressed into three days. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Their participation in RCCA helps connect them to a larger program that reaches beyond their small community on the island and makes them more aware of statewide marine management issues, which they can, in turn, share with their students. To date, we’ve held two trainings for the staff and have trained 21 Reef Checkers. This efficient team has adopted Torqua, a dive site between Avalon and Long Point, and has completed four surveys in the last two years. They are a self contained team in that they print their own data sheets, organize their own surveys and enter their own data. How great is that? They’ve even spotted Giant Sea Bass on their surveys as well as two invasive species of seaweed. We are training another group of CIMI staff members the first week in February and hope to add another survey site near Long Point.

CIMI has been an amazing partner organization. Not only do they successfully survey their local reefs, they also donate their facilities for our annual staff retreat each February. We also worked with them this past summer to shoot an episode of SciGirls, which is expected to air on PBS in March.  Details on both of these events will follow in upcoming issues of the Transect Line. We look forward to another successful year with CIMI in 2010!