Photo: Marco Mazza

Reef Check’s Kelp Forest Monitoring training classes for 2023 are now open for registration, providing nine opportunities in California, Oregon and Washington for divers to get involved as citizen scientists.

The Reef Check Kelp Forest Monitoring Training course is designed to provide participants with the skills and experience to complete the Reef Check Kelp Forest Monitoring survey protocol. In addition to survey methods, the training will address safe diving practices, techniques of research diving, sampling design and theory, general marine ecology including species identification and interactions, and the importance of monitoring to meet marine management needs. Trainings include a combination of online in-person training, recorded lectures and at-home work, and in-person ocean field sessions.

For a list of course prerequisites, and to sign up, visit our registration page.

If you have been previously trained as a Reef Checker, you can sign up for one of our recertification classes to get ready for the upcoming survey season at

By Annie Bauer-Civiello, Reef Check Restoration Program Director

Kelp Forest Brett Seymour

Reef Check is rallying behind the Kelp Forest Alliance who have created a global challenge to restore one million hectares of lost underwater forest by 2040, called the Kelp Forest Challenge. This is intended to be similar to the Bonn Challenge to restore deforested landscapes.

Since November 2022, our Restoration Program Director, Annie, has joined over 250 kelp experts, professionals, and citizens from 25 countries in a series of workshops to create an inspirational target for kelp forest restoration.

“This initiative aims to encourage and facilitate positive actions and communities that can protect what is remaining and restore what has been lost with an ambitious shared vision for ensuring our kelp forests and the benefits they provide thrive into the future,” says Dr. Aaron Eger, Founder/Program Director of the Kelp Forest Alliance. For more information, check out the press release here.

In support of the challenge, Reef Check pledges that by 2030 we will:

  • Work with at least ten local communities across the West Coast of the USA to restore at least five hectares of kelp forest each;
  • Lead citizen scientists to conduct annual long-term monitoring surveys to assess the health of kelp forests using standardized monitoring protocol along the entire west coast of North America;
  • Share the findings of our long-term monitoring and notify local governing agencies when kelp forests are in further decline, and act as an early warning system;
  • Lead and support research to answer critical questions on kelp forest restoration;
  • Train at least 1000 new volunteers to monitor kelp forests and provide education on the declining health of local kelp forests;
  • Build awareness for kelp forests through social media, outreach, and education.

Reef Check is asking for your help! Check out our campaign to help us with restoration monitoring in Northern California. Since 2014, more than 96% of bull kelp in Northern California has been lost due to a combination of stressors linked to climate change. As a result, the Reef Check Foundation works closely with project partners through several collaborative community-based efforts to restore and monitor the bull kelp forest in Northern California. The funding from this campaign will explore ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions for kelp forest restoration using citizen science. The campaign is all-or-nothing, so please help us by making a pledge or spreading the word! 

Sway creates seaweed-based replacements for single-use plastic packaging

Reef Check is honored to be chosen as one of three key partners through 1% for the Planet Member Sway, who creates seaweed-based replacements for single-use plastic packaging. Sway balances market-driven solutions with environmental partnerships and echoes Reef Check’s approach to finding ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions for our planet by sourcing from regenerative ocean farms (which promotes climate-resilient employment and expands the market for their main crop — seaweed) while improving conditions for marine life and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Of this partnership, Sway says, “There are two vital components of the seaweed revolution: creating demand for regeneratively farmed seaweed, which is the direct impact we hope to make, and the restoration of our vital seaweed ecosystems. While Sway pushes for market-driven solutions in our day-to-day work, it is of utmost importance to us that we also find direct opportunities to support kelp restoration, which is why we value Reef Check’s work in this capacity.” 

Thank you to the team at Sway and 1% for the Planet for partnering with Reef Check!

Removing ghost nets with TMCG

By Reef Check Malaysia

Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) believes in involving local communities in the management of marine resources. A study in 2014 by RCM, based on 100 interviews within the local community on Tioman Island, revealed that the vast majority of respondents showed an interest in working for the Department of Marine Parks (DMPM – now Department of Fisheries, Malaysia). Thus, the Tioman Marine Conservation Group (TMCG) was born.

Members of TMCG were given training that was designed to empower them to undertake a variety of tasks that would normally be the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries, Malaysia (DoF). This provides members an opportunity to participate in the management of the Tioman Marine Park.

Now, TMCG is to undertake the following tasks:

– Mooring Buoy Monitoring/Maintenance

– Reef Rehabilitation Monitoring/Maintenance

– Reef Check Monitoring Surveys

– Coral Bleaching Surveys

– Crown of Thorns Monitoring/Removal

– Reef Clean Ups

– Rapid Response

– Liaison with Tourism Operators

– Snorkel Guide Training

– Assist in Marine Park organized Programs

– Progress Reporting

Despite still being in its infancy in 2022, it has shown great potential, fostering good relationships between the local community, tourism operators as well as government agencies on the island.

The Global Biodiversity Framework has also reiterated the importance of empowering and including the indigenous people and local communities (IPLCs) in the management of protecting biodiversity.

Recognizing the importance of participatory management, Reef Check Malaysia has extended participatory management at four new islands: Redang, Perhentian, Mabul and Semporna. The success of TMCG has encouraged this expansion and TMCG’s framework will act as a blueprint in the effort to extend participatory management on these four new islands. The work is already underway and we hope for an effective collaboration.

2022 was a great year for Reef Check and we owe that to you— our global community of volunteers, donors, and partners. We could not be prouder of what we have achieved together this year. Reef Check has grown in every aspect: monitoring coral reefs around the world and kelp forests along the West Coast, restoration and education all have increased and hit new heights.

We hope you will take a moment to read through some of the highlights of 2022 linked below. Enjoy and celebrate these achievements and please know that none of this would have been possible without you.

2022 Successes:

Kelp Forest Program

Restoration Program

Coral Reef Program

Education Program

As we look forward to next year, we ask you to consider a donation to Reef Check if you are in a position to do so. Your generous contributions are what enable us to meet the increasing demand for our work and we are truly grateful for each and every donation we receive. We have several different ways you can make a financial contribution to Reef Check including gifts of stock, IRA rollover contributions, and matching gifts. 

We wish you a happy holiday season and best wishes for a healthy and peaceful new year ahead!