October 27, 2008

Coral Cay Conservation and Reef Check Team Up To Save Tobago’s Threatened Reefs

By Jan-Willem van Bochove
Coral Cay scholar Rondel Bailey receiving his certification from Science Officer Daniel Groves after completing a two-week dive and survey training course

Coral Cay Conservation (CCC), a British-based not-for-profit NGO conducting science, education and local training programs in Tobago, is helping the Tobago House of Assembly (the local government) collect vital information on the current status of coral reefs around this beautiful island. This information will help develop effective management plans for the area. On invitation of a local environmental NGO, the Buccoo Reef Trust, the Tobago Coastal Ecosystem Mapping Project is a two-year collaborative effort to collect scientific data on the current reef status. This project would not be able to run without the contribution of trained volunteers from around the world. These volunteers undergo an intensive two-week training course before joining scientists in gathering detailed information about fish, coral and invertebrate abundance, as well as levels of coral disease and human impacts. These baseline surveys are similar to those of Reef Check and can easily be transformed to allow for comparisons of reef health between islands of the Caribbean. CCC also trains volunteers and local scholars as Reef Check EcoDivers so they can help with our ongoing data collection program. Recently, Coral Cay has teamed up with the Department of Fisheries to provide free training in SCUBA diving and Reef Check surveying to some of their fisheries’ advisors. The support Coral Cay provides will allow them to collect data on the status of reef fisheries, greatly facilitating their efforts to manage the island’s coral reef fisheries.

If you are interested in helping us save Tobago’s stunning coastal ecosystems, then please visit us at www.coralcay.org and sign up for the experience of a lifetime!

CCC would like to thank Reef Check for their dedicated support throughout the project and, in particular, for the training they provided to some of our science staff. Expect to hear more from Reef Check Tobago as the IYOR Singing Contest deadline approaches!