The one hundred miles of California’s Big Sur coast is one of the most remote, unique and pristine stretches of marine ecosystem along the west coast of the United States. But the same remoteness that results in less fishing and puts it out of reach of polluting industries and human population centers, also makes it difficult for scientists to study and manage this area. In this era of global environmental stress factors like ocean acidification, rising sea temperatures and the vast reach of plastics pollution, the knowledge of what changes are occurring in these remote ecosystems is key to successful management to protect these rich habitats. Reef Check has proposed an expedition in June to conduct a marine ecosystem assessment of the reefs along this coast, with partial funding through a Kickstarter campaign. We will lead a team of volunteer citizen scientists to scuba dive and survey fish and other species using scientific protocols that are integrated with studies being carried out throughout the rest of California. The data we collect will be made available through our online Global Reef Tracker (data.reefcheck.org) so that fisheries managers, researchers, and the public can view and analyze what we find.
If the expedition is fully funded, Reef Check will document it and the ecosystems we find using Google Ocean’s latest specialized underwater camera to take panoramic “underwater street view” photos, which will be uploaded to Google Maps to help raise awareness of conservation issues. A successful expedition will be the beginning of a sustained effort by Reef Check California to survey the reefs off the Big Sur coast for years to come — just as we have done successfully for 10 years in other parts of California.
To donate to the campaign, visit our Kickstarter page at: https://kickstarter.com/projects/2033378493/marine-ecosystem-assessment-of-the-big-sur-coast
If you are interested in joining us as an expedition participant, details can be found here: http://reefcheck.org/involved/Expeditions.php