The Transect Line – January 2009
  Newsletter Highlights
New EcoExpeditions Offered For 2009 Declaration of Reef Rights Wrap-Up
Voting Opens Soon For IYOR Singing Contest EcoAction Update: Caribbean Initiatives
Reef Check California Update Reef Check South Africa Launches New Programs
International Year of the Reef 2008 Review    
 New EcoExpeditions Offered For 2009- Sign Up Today!
New EcoExpeditions Offered For 2009- Sign Up Today! 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 six exotic coral reef destinations are scheduled for 2009:

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

 Voting Opens Soon For IYOR Singing Contest
Voting Opens Soon For IYOR Singing Contest Reef Check’s International Singing Contest on Video featuring the “Year of the Reef” song closes on January 31st. Starting February 18th, be sure to visit the contest page to vote for your favorite video! Each voter will automatically be entered into a raffle to win a prize package containing a pair of ProMate Sport Sunglasses and a Reef Check t-shirt and hat!

Hosted by Body Glove and Reef Lab, cash prizes of $1000, $600 and $300 will be awarded to the top three videos. Check out the great videos already submitted by groups in Egypt, Comoros, India, Trinidad & Tobago, and Taiwan to see the diverse ways people around the world express their culture and passion for reef conservation through music!

  Reef Check California Update
By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson

A new and exciting 2009 lies before Reef Check California and we are looking forward to continuing to solidify RCCA as a major force of change in marine management. Although we, like everyone, are facing new challenges due to the economic crisis, we continue to benefit from the support and dedication of our members which becomes even more critical at times like these. With a new administration comes a new focus on science and a rehabilitation of its use in resource policy making. A notable appointment in the marine policy world was that of Dr. Jane Lubchecho, a marine scientist from Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is a real sea change (pun intended) on how the United States will manage not only marine resources but climate change as well.

We have put the final touches on the 2009 Training Schedule and we encourage folks to spread the word and get your friends and neighbors involved! There is no better way to take direct action to improve marine management in California than to become a trained RCCA diver. We are also starting a pilot program this year that will allow non-divers to participate in the classroom portion of the class to learn more about marine management in California, including species identification. If you are an experienced certified diver please visit our training page and sign-up, the spots are going fast!! If you are a non-diver and are interested in taking the RCCA Training Course please contact for more information and pricing.

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 2008 Review
International Year of the Reef 2008 ReviewThe legacy of The International Year of the Reef 2008 will continue through 2009 and beyond, promoting awareness and generating action for the benefit of the world’s reefs. As exemplified below, the activities and events of this year-long campaign have been eclectic and unbound by geographic or ideological barriers, designed to effectively address the nature of the challenges faced by these underwater ecosystems.

The first IYOR was held in 1997 by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) with very limited funding; yet, it raised support and laid the foundation for future actions that included the establishment of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force and the Coral Reef Conservation Act. In 2005, Reef Check Founder Dr. Gregor Hodgson proposed that a second IYOR be held to stimulate global action for reef conservation. Consequently, IYOR 2008 was launched at the ICRI general meeting in Washington on January 23, 2008, along with the release of the “Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs After Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005” report which includes Reef Check results from the 2005/6 bleaching event. The Philippines Tourism Authority kicked off IYOR in March at the Philippines Dive Expo (PDX). During the event, Dr. Domingo Ochavillo, former Director of Reef Check Philippines, spoke about the status of Philippines’ reefs, efforts to protect and rehabilitate them, and public involvement. As a result, PDX launched two initiatives dealing with mooring buoy installation and outbreaks of the Crown of Thorns starfish.

International Declaration of Reef Rights Signed By Citizens Of 157 Countries International Declaration of Reef Rights Signed By Citizens Of 157 Countries

In honor of the International Year of the Reef 2008, Reef Check launched the International Declaration of Reef Rights in March 2007. This worldwide campaign highlighted the significance of coral reefs and encouraged all people and governments to support coral reef conservation. The campaign was a great success! Citizens from 157 countries signed the Declaration, as well as many leaders in government, science, and art. Dignitaries and celebrities who supported the reefs included: American Samoa Governor Togiola T.A. Tulafono; Malaysia Secretary-General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin; President of the Republic of Palau Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr.; President of the Federated States of Micronesia Emanual Mori; President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Kessai Note; and Seychelles President James Michel. Renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, actress Daryl Hannah, and artist Wyland also signed the Declaration, the first two doing so in an underwater ceremony off the coast of Southern California.

Reef Check plans to present the list of almost 25,000 names to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as leaders of coral reef countries. This list will demonstrate the global commitment of citizens across the world to the cause of reef conservation.

Also, be sure to check out all the inspiring comments we received from across the globe.

  Reef Check Teams in Action
EcoAction Update: Caribbean Initiatives
by Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson

EcoAction Update: Caribbean Initiatives In 2009, the Reef Check EcoDiver Program will see some upgrades, with additional training and pre-requisites added to strengthen the Training of Trainers level. After over ten years of trying, many small island countries are realizing that despite their best intentions, they simply do not have the local capacity or funding to carry out all the detailed ecological monitoring they would like in order to effectively manage their marine resources. In many cases, scientists have made efforts to monitor reefs in great detail, but at high cost with little attention to management needs. When funding runs out, the result is often a complete lack of monitoring for several years. This leaves park managers and government staff struggling to make management decisions with an incomplete picture of the condition of their marine resources.

In order to address this need, Reef Check is now offering standardized training packages available for groups of ten or more people for a fraction of the cost of a team of highly trained scientists. At the end of the Reef Check training workshops, there will be one or more teams of certified Reef Check divers, a monitoring plan and a commitment from the teams to monitor selected coral reefs at least once per year. Many Caribbean island nations are following the lead of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and using Reef Check as one of the major tools to ensure that they are able to track their coral reef resources every year in sufficient detail to be useful to government managers.

When most people think of the Netherlands Antilles, it is the southern group of Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire that come to mind. With the leadership of Paul Hoetjes of Reef Care, Reef Check has been active in those islands for many years. In a new initiative, Reef Check is planning to hold a training workshop in Saba this coming April. Saba is a tiny island located in the northeast corner of the Caribbean. It is important because the nearby Saba Bank is a major resource for fisheries and for the oil industry. The Island Council of Saba is very supportive of Reef Check, and in fact would like to see more marine science being carried out in Saba. The Director of Saba Marine Park, Jan Den Delk and his staff have their hands full with the daily work of maintaining the park, and would like Reef Check’s help in facilitating a regular monitoring program in the Park. Local dive shops such as Sea Saba are willing to pitch in and help. Ideally, Saba can help to promote Reef Check teams on all the islands in the area such as St. Eustatius and St. Maarten.

Trinidad and Tobago
At the other end of the Caribbean lies the twin island country of Trinidad and Tobago – perhaps most famous for their February Carnaval Festival and steel drums. Among divers, Tobago has long been a favorite destination. The Government of Trinidad and Tobago set up a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1973, however, as with many MPAs around the world, monitoring and management are challenging. In January, the Buccoo Reef Trust invited Reef Check to help establish a regular monitoring program in Tobago so that managers will have a reliable annual report on changes on the reefs of this important island. A Reef Check training workshop will be offered in Tobago in April/May.

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a good example of a territory that is part of one of the richest countries in the world, but which has relatively little standardized coral reef monitoring (the RC California program began in 2005 as a result of similar circumstances). The reality is that governments have many priorities when choosing areas to provide funding, and unfortunately, monitoring to support marine conservation often loses out despite how critical the need is. Therefore, even in relatively prosperous economies, Reef Check has a major role to play. A Reef Check EcoDiver training will be held in collaboration with OPAS, a local NGO, early this year.

If you would like to sign up for a training in any of the above locations or would like to set up a training anywhere in the tropics this year, please contact:

Reef Check South Africa Launches New Programs For 2009
by SAUES Coordinator Charmaine Green


Reef Check South Africa Launches New Programs Reef Check South Africa used the 2008 International Year of the Reef period to train and certify a large contingent of new EcoDivers who will be used to assist with Reef Check surveys in 2009.  In addition to the new EcoDivers, Reef Check South Africa will re-mobilize the teams initially involved in the 1997 International Year of the Reef and thereafter.  Due to the diversified coastline of South Africa, Reef Check SA will initiate 2 survey programs in 2009- one will be on the East Coast with surveys conducted in the warm tropical waters and the other on the West Coast in more temperate waters.  Additionally, Reef Check South Africa intends to launch its “Reef Check Adventures” program for all scholars and students and through this initiative, create awareness of the plight of coral reefs and secondly motivate kids to become actively involved in the EcoAction courses and research trips.

For more information, contact Reef Check South Africa at