When you donate to Reef Check, you become part of the solution. And because 98% of the work of Reef Check is powered by our incredible citizen scientists, your donation goes even further to help protect vulnerable ecosystems for all the species– humans included– that depend on their good health and sustainability. Your donation supports critical components of our work such as:
- KELP FOREST PROGRAM– Along the West Coast of North America, Reef Check helps ensure the long-term sustainability and health of the nearshore rocky reefs and kelp forests. Reef Check volunteer citizen scientists are divers, fishermen, kayakers, surfers, boaters, and a wide range of people who take a proactive role in making sure that our nearshore ecosystems are healthy and well managed. We train scuba divers to be citizen scientists familiar with local marine life and how to survey kelp forests. We provide them with the skills to conduct scientific surveys and then lead them in monitoring kelp forests along the West Coast of North America. Since the program’s inception, we’ve trained and deployed over 2000 volunteer citizen scientist scuba divers to conduct over 1000 surveys counting fish, invertebrates, and kelp along California’s coastline and have expanded northward to Oregon and Washington. The resulting long-term monitoring data informs the public, scientists, resource managers, and policymakers in their decisions regarding the continued protection and management of our coastal waters. And in the course of this endeavor, we actively engage the public in the scientific process, fostering passionate stewardship for our oceans.
- KELP FOREST RESTORATION– Kelp forests are one of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems in the world as they provide habitat, food, and refuge to fish, invertebrates, birds, and mammal species. They also able to sequester carbon from the atmosphere, create oxygen, dampen wave energy, and alter sedimentation flow; all of which have effects that reach far beyond the kelp forest ecosystem and affect coastal communities and landscapes, as well as the global climate. Tragically, bull kelp forests in northern California have declined by over 90% since 2014 due to a combination of extreme warm water events, dramatic increases in native purple sea urchin populations which feed on kelp, and a loss of predatory species for the urchins like sea otters and sunflower sea stars. Reef Check is testing if a reduction in herbivores (urchins) will facilitate kelp re-growth. At several locations in central and northern California, we are exploring different methods to reduce purple urchin populations and promote kelp growth. The hope is that this removal of herbivores will give kelp a chance to reestablish and given the right environmental conditions, persist on its own as lush kelp forests that once were common on these reefs. The results have been extremely promising, but now it is time to scale these efforts while we still have the opportunity to turn things around.
- SCHOLARSHIPS FOR CITIZEN SCIENTISTS– At Reef Check we pursue justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in all that we do. Our work brings the truth to the surface, but to do that, you have to dive deep. We want to make it possible for more people, from all backgrounds, to be able to participate in this engaging work. That’s why we offer scholarships for certified SCUBA divers to participate in a Reef Check training to become a certified Reef Check Citizen Scientist. We are especially proud of the Dive into Science Scholarships for individuals who are not yet SCUBA certified, but have a passion for ocean conservation and science. Through Dive into Science we provide SCUBA training and certification, subsequent diving experience, and mentorship, culminating in a Reef Check Citizen Scientist certification and a whole new world of possibilities for participants’ futures.
- CORAL REEF CONSERVATION– Reef Check’s Coral Reef Program works with teams of citizen scientists in over 40 countries around the world. Organized through different chapters, our network of EcoDivers conducts over 600 surveys annually to monitor the health of coral reefs. We’ve trained more than 8,000 EcoDivers to survey reef health, and have conducted approximately 15,000 surveys of more than 5,000 coral reef sites worldwide.
- CLIMATE CHANGE– Through the Coastal Canary Project, Reef Check is tracking ocean temperature at 78 of our monitoring sites in California, and at six of them, we are investigating changes in ocean acidification and hypoxia. We use this information from sentinel sites to understand the effects of climate change on ocean life and importantly, how to mitigate them. Like canaries in a coal mine, these sensors detect delicate shifts in our kelp forests before more drastic impacts surface. As climate change alters the oceans, this data allows us to monitor and mitigate its effects and paints a fuller picture of our changing kelp forest ecosystem.
Reefs are under threat, but we also know they are amazingly resilient systems and, with the right management and protection, we can support resilient reefs into the future. With more than 25 years of monitoring the world’s coral and kelp reefs, we are committed to our vision of thriving reefs, cared for by communities sustained for generations to come. Will you join us?
Reef Check is an international conservation nonprofit and a registered 501(c)(3) organization with a Platinum Transparency Rating from Guidestar. Our tax ID# is 95-4858649.