The Transect Line – April 2008
13-Year Old Chicago Girl Donates Over $6000 to Reef Check

Annie Schwab shares her story of how one person can make a difference

I am an eighth grader in Chicago at The Chicago City Day School.  For the past two years, I have participated in Reef Check’s scientific data collection on the reefs of Bimini (Bahamas) along with a few of my fellow schoolmates. We stayed on board The Shedd Aquarium’s research boat and conducted numerous studies including counting fish, identifying coral and plant species, and assessing the overall health of the coral itself. This data was posted to Reef Check’s website for review by scientists the world over. I found this to be an exciting experience, but also one that was disturbing given the declining health of the coral reefs.  Reef Check has done a tremendous amount to educate citizens, governments and private industries about their actions’ impact on reefs in an effort to change behaviors and halt their decline.

Lululemon Athletica Joins Reef Check to Raise Coral Reef Awareness

Paolo A. Santos and Caroline Sicard of Creative Hemisphere Productions Inc., along with Lululemon Athletica, have joined together  to help promote Reef Check’s mission and awareness about coral reefs.  Creative Hemisphere is a production company that utilizes dance, music, photography and video installations to deliver a message.  Their projects typically focus on issues related to humanitarian and environmental consciousness.  Lululemon Athletica is a Canadian company that manufactures and retails athletic wear primarily for yoga, with core values of promoting a healthy planet and healthy lifestyle.

This month, the partnership produced a one-day event in Las Vegas which featured a dance performance choreographed by Caroline Sicard and performed by  Sicard, Sarah Mandonnet, and Julia Bantner of the Celine Dion show, “A New Day”. 

Reef Check California

Spring has sprung and March has been a busy month! The Reef Check California Program has been braving chilly upwelled waters to complete three new RCCA diver trainings and has recertified over 60 divers from the previous year. There are now over 200 divers trained in Reef Check California survey methods. This year, these divers will help complete surveys at over 50 sites ranging from Crescent City to San Diego. The growth of the program has been phenomenal due to the dedication and commitment of volunteers and supporters. RCCA needs your continued support to further improve marine resource management in California. So please take action… become a member of Reef Check or get trained and do some surveys!!!

You can read highlights of some of Reef Check California’s recent events below:
Nor/Cen- April 12- RCCA Breakwater Extravaganza!
April Los Angeles class graduates 14 divers!

MPC class- Awesome field trainings 4/13 & 20!
Recert a success!!

International Year of the Reef

Governor of American Samoa and Artist Wyland Sign Declaration of Reef Rights

Two more prominent individuals have joined the ranks of those who have signed the Declaration of Reef Rights and pledged to take action to protect reefs: Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono of American Samoa and renowned marine artist Wyland.  Both signed the declaration as part of American Samoa’s activities to celebrate both the International Year of the Reef 2008 and Wyland’s new marine life mural at the Executive Office Building in Utulei.

During the ceremony, Governor Tulafono said, “I know firsthand the importance of coral reefs locally, regionally and internationally.  By signing this declaration, I hope to inspire others to join us in our conservation efforts to protect our coral reef ecosystems.”

IYOR Reports From Around the Globe

Reef Check Madagascar (RCM) will soon celebrate IYOR 2008. In an effort to promote reef conservation through music among local students, RCM will translate the Year of the Reef Song into Malagasy. In addition, they will hold workshops in the localities of Imorona, Voloina, Maroantsetra, and Anjahana during May and June. Further, a coral reef monitoring training will be held, and 16 agents of the local Marine Protected Area will be certified. Another teaching session on the biology of coral reefs and their ecological importance is scheduled for tour guides.

Central Sulawesi is holding the Togean Festival from July 23rd-27th. The festival will celebrate reefs and IYOR 2008 with film and photo contests, and other fun activities.

Italy is also leading the way with IYOR activities, and Reef Check coordinators there are working hard to promote the Declaration of Reef Rights locally and across the European Union.

Have you signed the International Declaration of Reef Rights?
Join the 10,000 ocean lovers from 135 countries who already have!

Click here to sign the International Declaration of Reef Rights

Click here to find out what others around the world are saying about the International Declaration of Reef Rights

Reef Check Teams in Action
Diving With An Environmental Purpose – OceansWatch Team Gets Reef Check EcoDiver Certified

OceansWatch has just completed its first team training session in the Kingdom of Tonga for Reef Check EcoDiver certification. The stunningly beautiful island of Foa in the Ha’apai Group was the setting for an intensive but exciting week of learning to identify coral reef flora and fauna. Reef Check survey techniques have been chosen by OceansWatch as part of their marine conservation programme.

Studying in paradise has its advantages. After several hours poring over pictures of fish, we were able to slip into the warm blue water and go looking for the real thing. Tropical fish must be the most colourful creatures in the world – the attention to detail is unparalleled – with many juvenile fish having completely different colours and markings than the adults. With such intensive study in the ‘classroom’ we quickly started differentiating between hard and soft corals, butterfly fish and angel fish, coral bleaching and damage by the Crown of Thorns starfish, sponges and ascidians.

“Friends of the Environment” Gets Involved to Protect Bahamas' Reefs

Friends of the Environment is an NGO located on the beautiful island of Abaco in the Bahamas. They recently contacted Reef Check Headquarters to have their staff and related divers trained in the Reef Check protocol. They saw this as a great opportunity to become actively involved in monitoring and managing their own natural resources, which are ever more threatened by development.  The training was conducted by Dr. Ruben Torres of Reef Check Dominican Republic and nine participants completed the course. The newly trained EcoDivers look forward to getting in the water to complete surveys and help raise awareness about threatened Bahamian reefs.

Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Scheduled for Monitoring

Reef Check Egypt coordinator Dr.Mohammed Kotb was in Djibouti on April 21 as he and PERSGA embarked on a survey of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden area. PERSGA is an intergovernmental body dedicated to the conservation of the coastal and marine environments found in the region. PERSGA has adopted the Reef Check methodology as its protocol for monitoring coral ecosystems, and Dr. Kotb will be conducting Reef Check surveys in the seven member countries of PERSGA: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia.

Mark Your Calendars
Cabarete, Dominican Republic EcoExpedition – June 20-29, 2008

Join Reef Check for a 10-day EcoAction Expedition to Cabarete, Dominican Republic, on the beautiful island of Hispaniola!  The trip is open to both skin and scuba divers and all will have the opportunity to become certified Reef Check EcoDivers while exploring the culture and ecology of the Dominican Republic.  The trip will be led by RC Dominican Republic Director Dr. Ruben Torres (Univ. Miami), an outstanding marine biologist.  Participants will learn how to assess the health of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems and will use these skills to survey reefs facing various threats from pollution and overfishing. The data will contribute to marine management in the Dominican Republic.

Reef Check International Photo Contest 2008

Help Reef Check raise awareness about the importance of coral reefs by participating in the International Year of the Reef 2008 photo contest, “What do coral reefs mean to you?” Reef Check Australia kicks off the competition next month with five categories you can enter to win fantastic prizes! Submissions by Australia residents can be sent in from May 1 to June 30, 2008. To participate, please visit The International contest will open on July 1st and will be hosted on Check back soon for more details on photo categories and prizes!

Kosrae Annual Coral Monitoring – September 27-October 10, 2008

This year’s Kosrae coral monitoring project, held annually since 1996, will be held from September 27 – October 10 and you are invited to help! The collected data will be submitted to the Kosrae State Fisheries Department for their use in managing the essential reef resources. Data will also be submitted to Reef Check for inclusion in the global database . Please click here for more information on the project and how you can get involved.

Not available in September? Kosrae has 20 monitoring sites around the island in need of surveys, so your group of four divers can schedule a coral reef project to fit your timeframe. Project dates will need to be set up in advance during a time when one of the project scientists is available. Please contact Reef Check Kosrae coordinator Katrina Adams for details.

Reef Check and Earthwatch Team Up for Thailand EcoExpeditions

Snorkel and dive Thailand's amazing coral reefs to conserve biodiversity. Thailand's coral reefs are some of the most magnificent and diverse on Earth. Like many of the world's reef systems, Thailand's reefs are facing the pressures of overfishing and destructive fishing practices, such as cyanide poisoning and explosives, as well as the threats posed by global warming and coral diseases. Reef Check's Dr. Georg Heiss and Kim Obermeyer are joining forces with Earthwatch to conduct baseline assessments of Thailand's resplendent coral reefs and to set up a long-term monitoring program. There are 8 expeditions scheduled for 2008-book your spot today!

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