The Transect Line – December 2008
  Newsletter Highlights
Letter From The Director Reef Check Thailand Reaches Out To Shanghai
Reef Check California Update Reef Check Indonesia “Let's Do The Right Thing”
International Year of the Reef Update PERSGA Forges Ahead
Reef Check Réunion Holds Ecosurf Festival Saving The World One T-Shirt At A Time
Reef Check Hawai`i Looks To Expand To Molokai 2009 Reef Check EcoExpeditions
Reef Check Australia Releases Annual Report    

Happy Holidays, Both Above and Below the Sea ~ Best Wishes from Reef Check

Give the Gift of Healthy Reefs

Your contributions have helped our teams work towards realizing our goals of research, education and conservation in over 90 countries and territories. Our key 2008 accomplishments are detailed in the Director’s letter below.

Unfortunately, charities are being particularly hard hit by the financial crisis. If each of you can donate even a small amount such as $10, we can continue to reverse the global decline of coral reefs and to support citizen science in California so that future generations may have the benefit of experiencing these natural wonders. Please consider a year end donation to help us to continue to support our volunteers.

Thank you for considering our request, and we look forward to working with you to support reefs in 2009!

 Year In Review: Letter From The Director

The 2008 International Year of the Reef has been highly productive for Reef Check.  In 1997, Reef Check began as a global science project to train citizen scientists to monitor the health of the world’s reefs. It was not until 2005 that we left the university environment to become an independent non-profit.  From an organizational perspective – we are still in a start-up stage, working to build our programs and gain the support of a diverse base of members, donors and corporate sponsors. At times like this when the economy is in decline, I am grateful that our programs can continue because they rely primarily on the work of thousands of volunteers and a few dedicated staff.

With programs in over 90 countries and territories, there are always a lot of Reef Check activities throughout the world. Some key accomplishments for 2008 include:

1) Nearly 25,000 people from 157 countries (including Moldova and Slovenia!) signed the Declaration of Reef Rights led by the President of Palau, Dr. Sylvia Earle and environmentalist Daryl Hannah.
2) A 100 page report published on the first underwater survey of the entire coast of California by citizen scientists.
3) RC Dominican Republic was asked to co-manage La Caleta Marine Park by DR government.
4) Government of Jamaica included 31 Reef Check sites in national monitoring program.
5) RC Egypt teamed with PERSGA to resurvey 35 sites in six Red Sea countries.
6) RC Indonesia launched a Marine Management Area at Bondalem village in Buleleng, Bali.
7) RC Maldives documented amazing recovery of local reefs from 1997-98 bleaching event.
8) RC helps to list all reef-building corals on IUCN Red List published in the journal Science.
9) RC presents 10-year data analysis showing recovery of Indo-Pacific reefs at International Coral Reef Symposium.
10) Increased our membership from 6,000 to over 25,000 people.

In addition, Reef Check carried out a major survey of the Musandam Peninsula, an impressive dive location in Oman, discovering extremely high coral cover and an abundance of endemic fish and corals. (see 2009 EcoExpedition)

As a novice diver in the 1970s, I had the good fortune to dive on reefs throughout the world before overfishing and other impacts damaged them. As we have reported since our first global coral reef survey in 1997, it is now very difficult to find locations such as Musandam where human impacts are relatively low and the reefs are in excellent condition.  As an example, the two species of coral most common in the Caribbean in the 1970s (staghorn and elkhorn) are now on the US Endangered Species List. And yet, the data collected by our volunteer citizen scientists around the world indicate that there is still hope, and that the decline of coral reefs has slowed. Marine Protected Areas are starting to provide benefits and recovery of damaged reefs is possible as evidenced by the Maldives where reefs severely damaged by bleaching in 1998 have now recovered.

If we all work together to raise awareness and protect reefs from human impacts including greenhouse gas buildup, there is still time to save these gorgeous and invaluable ecosystems for our children and grandchildren.

Dr. Gregor Hodgson
Reef Check Executive Director

  Reef Check California Update

By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson

With the colder than normal weather up and down the state, Reef Check California Divers are happy to be taking a break from the water and enjoying the holidays. THE FINAL NUMBERS ARE IN…in 2008, RCCA Divers completed 73 surveys at 60 sites. In three short years RCCA divers have completed over 6000 transects and recorded over 50,000 fishes, 60,000 invertebrates, and 30,000 algae. RCCA had over 170 individual divers take action to improve marine management in California and take part in a RCCA survey in 2008. We will be posting an end of the year summary on the website soon with all the final numbers and data summaries, so stay tuned.

The winter season allows RCCA staff to focus on building the program from the inside out and continuing to ensure we have a strong infrastructure to assist our divers and supporters. One of the big projects we will be undertaking this winter is to create a detailed site description web page for all RCCA survey sites. These pages will have information about how to conduct a survey at each site, including information on transect layout and other important information. We also will be putting the final touches on NED (Nearshore Ecosystem Database) and improving our training materials. Another focus will be to develop opportunities for non-divers to get involved with RCCA.

We continue to be on the front lines of improving marine management in California and we need your continued support! So if you aren’t a member join us and if you are a diver, sign up for a training in 2009!

  International Year of the Reef Update

Though IYOR 2008 is coming to a close, IYOR activities will spill over into 2009. The International Declaration of Reef Rights, for example, continues to serve as a stage where people can express their concerns and hopes for reefs, and commit to take action. In early 2009, the signatures and comments of nearly 25,000 people from 157 countries and territories will be sent to the top government officials of countries with coral reefs, along with a request to take action to protect these underwater resources. RC’s Singing Contest featuring “The Year of the Reef” song is another approach to engage the world’s youth in reef conservation. The deadline to enter the contest has been extended to January 31, 2009, so gather a group of children, students, or friends to make your video! This is an amazingly fun and educational opportunity to easily win $1000.00 USD!

Reef Check and IYOR efforts in the Persian Gulf continue to grow stronger thanks to the efforts of Marine Biologist Mohammad Ghavasi. He has overseen the production and distribution of the first RC brochure in Persian, featuring pictures of Iranian corals of the Persian Gulf, the International Declaration of Reef Rights, and information about the IYOR . . .

  Reef Check Teams in Action

Reef Check Réunion Holds Ecosurf Festival
by Harold Cambert

The International Year of the Reef 2008 was a great opportunity to develop the Reef Check network on Réunion Island.

During IYOR 2008, Reef Check Réunion doubled its number of survey sites from 5 to 10. With the partnership of the Quiksilver Foundation, Reef Check Réunion continued monitoring the barrier reefs of l’Hermitage, Saint Leu and Etang Salé for the fifth consecutive year.

Also, an Ecosurf Festival was organized with the Saint Leu Surf Club, the first surf competition to be run entirely with renewable energies and with a real waste management plan. Reef Check Réunion was a partner of the event. A new partnership with the Crédit Agricole Réunion helped develop valuable communication tools: the French website and a stand designed to raise awareness with posters, streamers, etc. Three new sites on Saint Gilles reef were also created with their help.

Reef Check Réunion will continue its expansion in 2009. Reef Check Réunion expects to add ten new sites with the help of the local authorities in Saint Paul and Saint Leu, which are engaged in a Blue Flag process. Reef Check Réunion is also planning to open up to the younger public by training a team of secondary school students in the Saint Leu lagoon.  Workshops on coral reef preservation will also be organized in 2009 in partnership with the World Ocean Network . . .

Reef Check Hawai`i Looks To Expand To Molokai
by Krista Heide

Reef Check Hawai`i has had a very positive year, establishing regular monitoring teams, team scientists, team leaders and divemasters on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawai`i. This November, we were pleased to hold our first Reef Check training and survey on Lanai. As we look forward to 2009, we aspire to establish survey teams on Molokai and the Hilo coast of the Big Island in addition to continuing and increasing our current monitoring efforts.

After a year of development with our partners at the Department of Aquatic Resources, Local Action Strategy Climate Change and Marine Disease, and the Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology, our “Eyes of the Reef” network prepares to launch. The island-wide network of reef users will report sightings of coral bleaching, disease, and Crown-of-Thorns Sea Star outbreaks. Upon final negotiations with our anticipated partners, Malama Kai and DAR Local Action Strategy: Aquatic Invasive Species, the network will also report incidents of marine invasive species. The network is the first tier of a rapid response protocol developed by the Department of Aquatic Resources, LAS Climate Change and Marine Disease.

Reef Check Hawai`i is grateful to have been recently awarded a grant from PADI AWARE to fund our “Eyes of the Reef” training and outreach materials. We are excited to be at the core of this impressive all-island effort to raise public awareness and engage stakeholders in the monitoring and reporting of the increasing threats to our coral reefs . . .

Reef Check Australia Releases Annual Report

Last month, Reef Check Australia released its first ever annual report, which showcases all of their amazing acheivements over the past year and celebrates what they have achieved over the past seven years.

Since its inception, Reef Check Australia has founded a number of successful coral reef
monitoring projects including:

• the Great Barrier Reef Project;
• the Coral Trout Monitoring Project;
• the South East Queensland Reef Monitoring Project; and
• the Inshore Monitoring Program.

In addition, Reef Check Australia has developed an innovative education program for young people called Reef IQ which is aimed at tackling the causes of our environmental problems.

Also, they have commenced an Indigenous Community Engagement project on Palm Island that aims to provide an important catalyst to enable community-based coral reef management and potential employment opportunities based on the sustainable use and management of the marine environment.

Reef Check Australia also plans to launch the newly developed global Reef Check EcoAction Program which provides
opportunities for tourists and young people to participate in coral reef conservation.

Click here to download a PDF of the report. Visit for more information.

Reef Check Thailand Reaches Out To Shanghai
by Suchana Apple Chavanich
2008 was a busy year for Reef Check Thailand. A total of 3 Reef Check Training of Trainers courses were conducted to certify new EcoDivers.  In addition, EcoDiver programs were launched in several dive shops located both in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Andaman Sea.  Also, with joint partners Scuba Cat (Phuket dive shop), Big Blue (dive company in Shanghai, China), and Concordia International School Shanghai (CISS), a Marine Ecology Course was offered to 20 CISS middle school students. As part of the course, all students were certified as Reef Check EcoDivers.  In addition, several Reef Check EcoExpeditions were organized in collaboration with the Earthwatch Institute.  Volunteers from all over the world joined the expeditions to help gather data on coral reefs in Thailand.  Community coral reef conservation activities, including training and educational programs to local communities, were conducted throughout the year.

Reef Check Indonesia “Let's Do The Right Thing”
by Naneng Setiasih


In 2008, Reef Check Indonesia continued its coral reef monitoring work and expanded its public education and awareness program. They categorized their work into three areas (pillars) that form a synergetic relationship: Education and Awareness, Conservation Science and Technology, and Joint Management.

Education and Awareness:
Together with Coca-Cola Indonesia, Reef Check Indonesia ran a “Let’s Do The Right Thing” campaign.  The campaign targeted local people in Sanur and Nusa Lembongan, as well as young people in Indonesia, to become a part of the garbage solution for the coastal areas.  Activities included a beach cleanup, an amateur video competition, and other fun events that gained support from local stakeholders.  The long-term goal is to raise awareness as well as create tools and a system for the public.

Reef Check Indonesia also launched two websites this year: Goblue, a public webportal about marine conservation, and Mycleanreef, to promote a clean reef through individual solid waste management.  Both websites are in Bahasa, the national language.

Reef Check Indonesia is also working together with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to developand test an underwater guide for megafauna.  Testing is expected to start this month . . .

PERSGA Forges Ahead
by Dr. Mohammed M. A. Kotb

The newly adopted PERSGA (the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden) protocol, “The Conservation of Biological Diversity and the Establishment of Network of Protected Areas in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Region”, signed in 2005, is a significant supplement to the Jeddah Convention of 1982.  Accordingly, surveying and monitoring of coral reef communities are among the aims of this protocol.

Through establishing the regular process for integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment last year, PERSGA achieved major progress in knowledge-based management.  In addition to the 1st SOMER (State of the Marine Environment Report – RSGA) produced in late 2006, PERSGA has recently produced three new issues in its Technical Series and several other manuals and guidebooks.

In order to evaluate and monitor the status of marine habitats and biodiversity within the RSGA, surveys must be undertaken that are comparable in extent, nature, detail and output.  Standardizing survey methodology within the region is essential to allow valid comparison of data, and for the formulation of conservation efforts that are regionally applicable.  A regional survey guideline – “Standard Survey Methods for Key Habitats and Key Species in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden” – was prepared by PERSGA during 2001 and published in 2004.

The regional standard survey methods guideline adopted Reef Check methodology as one of the coral reef survey methods, in addition to life-form and video belt methods.  This set of methods provides a range of options in terms of logistical capacity and expertise and the amount and detail of data collected.  With increasing expertise, it is recommended that national teams progress from the Reef Check method to the more comprehensive and data-rich life-form and video belt methods.

  Saving The World One T-Shirt At A Time

Two seniors from San Ramon Valley High School in Northern California, Amanda Calamoneri and Angela Accomazzo, want to help SAVE THE WORLD. To do this they have designed and sold over 150 t-shirts to raise money for various charities, including Reef Check. Each t-shirt says “My Tee Saves the World” on the front in white block letters, and on the back is the name of a charity. In only four weeks, they have raised nearly $100 for each of the five charities and they are still selling! The five selected charities are Reef Check (purple), American Cancer Society (red), Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (black), Nothing But Nets (yellow), and Save the Whales Again Campaign (blue). The t-shirts cost $12 and just under $6 goes to the charity that t-shirt supports.

Amanda and Angela are happy to say Reef Check is one of their top sellers- “it is very exciting for us to know we are helping protect reefs worldwide and contributing to stop the endangerment of reefs.” If you would like more information, you can email them at Their website is currently under constructiobut soon people across the country will be able to buy their charity t-shirts online!

  New Reef Check EcoExpeditions For 2009
Already a certified Reef Check EcoDiver? Or looking for a unique vacation experience? Join one of Reef Check’s many EcoExpeditions and make your diving count! Reef Check partners with multiple expedition groups all over the world to create exciting and valuable research expeditions to monitor coral reefs. Expeditions are tailored to Reef Check certified and non-certified divers alike, so dive in to help conserve the world’s reefs!

Trips to five exotic coral reef destinations are scheduled for 2009:

Puerto Galera, Philippines NEW
Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
Andaman Sea, Thailand
Musandam, Oman NEW