The Transect Line – August 2008
 Tickets on Sale Now for Reef Rescue 2008!

Our 2008 Reef Rescue Gala will take place at 7:00 pm on November 15th at the beautiful Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. The evening begins with a Silent Auction among the exotic fish in the Tropical Tanks—enjoy a Hawaiian hula exhibition along with Island cocktails and pupus while bidding on fantastic high end and ocean-themed auction items. Following the cocktail hour, dine at International food stations while Scuba Divers explore a three-story high rocky reef tank. Interact with exhibits celebrating the cultural diversity of reef nations from around the world. Adorn yourself with Fijian tribal body art, listen to the captivating sounds of an Australian didgeridoo, and encounter some of California’s great surf icons…Then, hold onto your tank! It’s a live auction featuring thrilling auctioneer, Tere Morris! A celebration follows of 2008’s Spirit of the Reef Award honoree Greg MacGillivray, creator of films such as “Five Summer Stories” and “IMAX Coral Reef Adventure”. The fun continues as guests mingle and explore the exhibits from California and coral reef nations.

For more information, visit, or contact Reef Check Headquarters at (310) 230-2371 or Reef Rescue 2008 Contest

Don’t think you can make it to Reef Check’s Reef Rescue Gala this year? Think again! In preparation for the event, Reef Check and have created a special contest. By registering on, you automatically receive a chance to win a roundtrip ticket to Los Angeles for Reef Rescue 2008. The winner will also receive hotel accommodations for three days and two nights, a VIP ticket to the event, and gear from and Reef Check. If you don’t win the contest, don’t worry—tickets can be purchased at! Be sure to mark your calendars, tickets are on sale now!

  Vote For Your Favorites!

During this International Year of the Reef, photographers around the world have entered their photos into Reef Check’s International Photo Contest “What Do Reefs Mean To You?” Pictures speak a thousand words and your images hold the potential to inspire people to take actions that benefit reefs.

The deadline to submit photos is August 31, 2008. Everyone is invited to vote for their favorites from September 3– 30, 2008 at

We invite you and your friends to check out the submitted photos and read their descriptions to learn about the different ways in which humans interact with the marine world. Remember that the goal is to raise awareness, especially among people who have not yet experienced rocky and coral reefs firsthand!

  Sing the ?Year of the Reef? Song on Video and Win!

Reef Check is hosting an International Singing Contest on Video featuring the “Year of the Reef Song”. The goals of the contest are to celebrate the International Year of the Reef and engage as many young people as possible in learning about the marine environment.

First Place: One US $500 cash prize

Second Place: One US $300 cash prize

Third Place: One US $200 cash prize

The contest is free to enter, and people from all countries and territories are encouraged to participate. Participants must be 18 years or younger by the entry date and part of a group of three or more. Contestants can submit their videos from September 15 to November 15, 2008, and the public can vote for their favorites from 1 December 2008 to 31 January 2009.

Visit to download a flyer with more information. You can listen to and download the song at The Official Contest site will be launching soon!

  Reef Check California Update

The RCCA dive train keeps rolling along…This year, RCCA divers have already surveyed 33 sites, including 6 new ones, stretching from Humboldt County to San Diego!!! We have also finished development of our online interactive data portal, NED (Nearshore Ecosystem Database). This portal allows trained RCCA divers to log-in and securely enter the data collected during surveys. Using the “Map Viewer” function, you can view data summaries, including newly added 2008 surveys. In the near future, users will also be able to perform queries and download the entire dataset for analysis. NED is an amazing tool that ensures RCCA data is readily available to all who are interested in checking out what is happening on California’s amazing rocky reefs, whether they are a diver, commercial or recreational fisherman, or anyone else interested in helping to inform the sustainable management of our nearshore resources.

RCCA had a big month in the media: a joint press release was issued with the California Department of Fish and Game that focused on our collaborative partnership and the recent publication of the RCCA 2-year report, “Reef Check California 2006-2007: Citizen Monitoring to Improve Marine Conservation.” As a consequence, RCCA was featured in newspapers, on the radio, and on several NBC newscasts. You can check out the press release and several of the media stories at the links below:;id=12368

We continue to be on the front lines of improving marine management in California and we need your continued support! Your donations to RCCA go directly to supporting the collection of the critical data needed to manage California’s marine resources. If you aren’t already a member, join us, and if you are a diver, sign up for a 2009 training! Dates will be posted in September!

  International Year of the Reef Update

The International Year of the Reef 2008 is uniting efforts from around the world to protect and rehabilitate reefs—become part of the celebration! Listed below are some upcoming events:

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI): On October 10th from 6am-6pm, CNMI’s Organization for Conservation Outreach (COCO) invites Saipan residents to Take the Right Route and reduce carbon emissions, thus helping fight global warming and ocean acidification—issues affecting reefs worldwide.

Egypt: The Marine Biology College of Egypt will hold a Reef Check monitoring session from September 6-21, 2008 at Tondoba Bay in Marsa Alam as part of their contribution to IYOR. To learn more, visit or contact Constanze Conrad

Kosrae, Micronesia: As part of Kosrae’s official annual coral monitoring program, Kosrae Village and Oceanearth are conducting a two-week monitoring session from September 27 to October 10, 2008. The event will highlight the IYOR and collect essential data on local reefs. For more information about how to get involved, contact Katrina Adams.

United States: Coastal Cleanup Day on September 20th is an inspiring event where people around the world gather to pick up trash and is a great opportunity to celebrate IYOR! Please note that “Coastal” no longer means cleanups only take place in coastal areas. It includes trash and other contaminants from high up in a watershed that wash down to beaches and oceans below. Find a location near you and join this global effort. If your city, state, or country is not involved yet, be a pioneer and plan your own cleanup! The California Coastal Commission, and Heal the Bay offer ideas on how to get started, but all you really need are trash/recycling bags and a group of people ready to clean-up their neighborhood… and the world’s oceans.

United States Virgin Islands: Join the Virgin Islands Resource Conservation & Development Council at their 5th Family Movie Night and enjoy Blue Planet’s “The Deep” and free popcorn! The event will take place at the UVI St. Croix Theater on September 12th from 7:00-8:30 pm. USVI’s snorkeling clinic series also continues with the next planned for September 20th from 10 am-12 pm at Dorsch Beach, Frederiksted.

Have you signed the International Declaration of Reef Rights?
Join the 12,330 ocean lovers from 140 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

Win It For The Reefs: Ocean Blue Education Students Become EcoDivers
by Robyn Irwin, Director, Ocean Blue Education

“Win it for the reefs!” I cried to a student who was nimbly donning his dive gear to the rock and roll of the ocean’s swell against our beam. The dive deck on the stern of the sailing vessel/home/research station Morning Star, was a frenzy of activity. Ten young divers danced around each other grabbing up transect lines, dive slates, plumb lines and cameras in preparation for their final Reef Check survey in the Bahamas. In 20 days, the students of Ocean Blue Education (O.B.E.) had transformed from ocean enthusiasts to ocean crusaders.

We began our epic Bahamian adventure with 10 individuals traveling from places as far flung as Washington state and as close to home as Freeport, Grand Bahamas. It was some “connection” with the ocean world that had called each of these students to sign on to a marine science expedition at sea. One by one they stepped aboard the Morning Star, sharing nothing more than the same wide-eyed expression.

Throughout the program, the crew of high schoolers participated in core classes of sailing, diving, coral ecology, fish & inverts, photography, and real ocean research—including Reef Check monitoring. Reef Check was paramount in providing our students with the opportunity to utilize their new underwater skills and marine knowledge as EcoDivers. 

As part of the Reef Check team, O.B.E. analyzed various reefs throughout the Bahamas this summer. Our goal was to assess and compare reefs inside the Exuma Land and Sea Park with other non Marine Protected Areas off of Conception, Long Island and the Northern Exumas. In total, we collected data from five locations with plans to establish more transects as part of a continued monitoring system. Each Reef Check diver gained awareness of their own relationship to the sea while gathering pertinent information as to coral cover, fish/invert populations, and site conditions. As the number of dives under Reef Check belts increased, each diver experienced a transformation in how they “saw” the reef: they were no longer just passive viewers of life beneath the waves, but had become active thinkers about reef conditions of the past and proactive eco-divers for healthy reefs in the future.

It was July 30th when we made our final port in Nassau. Each and every student stepping off the boat and onto their next adventure shared the same wide-eyed expression—wide open to the possibility of the reef actually “winning” some day.

Ocean Blue Education is excited to continue creating pathways for students and educators to dive into the adventure of ocean research and start making a change in our oceans’ future. We thank Reef Check for stimulating a community of science based reef monitoring. We look forward to working with Reef Check for many years to come through continued monitoring in the Bahamas and abroad.

CISS Students Stand Proud After Successful Data Dive Quest
By Terry Umphenour

With initial help from Shanghai dive company Big Blue, 18 Concordia International School Shanghai students recently donned scuba gear and plunged into the Pacific Ocean on a quest to help save the ocean's reefs. Ranging in age from 12 to 15, the determined ambassadors for the ocean entered the water on a mission to collect scientific data along 100 meters of fragile reef about 90 minutes by boat from Phuket in Thailand.

Responsibility for collecting usable data weighed heavily upon the hearts and minds of the students. Supervised by Reef Check instructors from Scuba Cat, a professional scuba diving company in Phuket, and Professor and Reef Check Thailand Coordinator Suchana Apple Chavanich, the data collection dive successfully ended nine months of training, study, sweat and tears.

Divided into groups comprising six students, a Reef Check instructor, and a CISS assisting adult leader, each team descended into the water, identified fish and invertebrate species, and collected data on the health and types of coral found along the section of reef chosen for the study. The first team entered the water early in the morning, confident of the skills necessary to collect data within the strict Reef Check parameters. Pairing off with a buddy, the team immediately broke into three buddy teams. The first buddy team conducted the initial fish count; the second team followed 15 minutes later and identified as many invertebrates as possible, and the third team followed closely behind to perform a substrate coral study.

Seventy intense minutes later, the teams surfaced with the precious data they had worked so hard to collect. An hour later, a second dive team left the security of the Scuba Cat, a boat named for the scuba company owned and operated by Sarah Kench. Breaking up into similar buddy teams, the second group followed the same format as the first group and collected additional data during their 70-minute session. In the early afternoon, the final six-member team entered the water collecting data that could be compared against the early morning data. Conserving air as much as possible, this team spent a full 80 minutes underwater identifying, counting and rechecking for accuracy.

The end of this dive ended the first Reef Check study for CISS and Scuba Cat and answered the one question that had haunted the students, instructors and adult leaders for the previous nine months: Could a group of middle school students conduct a strict scientific study that went far beyond classroom expectations and into the realm of scientific field research? The answer was a resounding “yes”….

Reef Check Reunion Establishes 9th Survey Site
By Harold Cambert

As part of the World Ocean Day celebration on June 7th 2008, a conference was held at the aquarium of Saint Gilles, Réunion. The goals were to share information about the Reef Check Réunion program, explore why there is an urgent need to care about coral reef conservation, and discuss how conservation can benefit from the involvement of stakeholders in monitoring the status of reefs.

Volunteers from the “Bleu Marine” diving club, supported by Arvam and Aquarium teams, then surveyed a new site in the natural marine reserve, close to the popular seaside resort community of Saint Gilles. Located on the outer slope, the site is the ninth survey site of the Reef Check network in Réunion, a process which started in 2003.

Additional activities for IYOR 2008 included: the development of a website for French overseas territories; increasing the number of sites under the Blue Flag ecolabel promoted by local collectivities; involvement of private partners such as surf companies (Quiksilver Foundation) and banks (Crédit Agricole); and interoperability between Reef Check protocols and the CoReMo data entry system developed by Arvam in partnership with Reef Base and World Fish Center.