The Transect Line – July 2008
 Pacific Coral Reefs Have Recovered, Caribbean Still Declining

In a presentation made at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Reef Check Executive Director Gregor Hodgson announced that coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region have largely recovered from the devastating bleaching event that killed up to 90% of corals on some reefs in 1998. He reported that 10 years later, recovery has occurred more quickly and more completely than expected. Caribbean reefs, however, are losing about 3% living coral every four years due to a combination of human impacts.

Hodgson says, “When the devastating 1998 bleaching event occurred and the extent of dead coral was tallied, many scientists feared that the dead reefs would not recover, and that the remaining live reefs could be killed if such intense bleaching events continued.”

Although smaller bleaching events have occurred, the damaged reefs began to slowly recover. New larval corals settled and began to grow. Now some of these corals measure more than 1m in diameter and carpet the previously damaged reefs such as in the Maldives.

In 2005, another large bleaching event occurred in the Caribbean; however, much less damage was recorded. Reef Check scientists believe that this is because species such as branching staghorn and elkhorn corals were already decimated due to other factors in the 1980s. The remaining corals may be more resistant to being killed by bleaching…

  Reef Check California Update

The final stretch of the survey season has begun and RCCA Divers are conducting surveys from Crescent City to San Diego over the next few months!! July brought to a close the training season with a total of 12 completed trainings. We trained 115 new RCCA divers statewide! With the exponential growth in the RCCA Program from 2007 to 2008, we are adding more sites to our ever-expanding monitoring network. This expansion will include more than 60 sites this year, an increase of over 20% in the number of sites being monitored. Currently there are well over 300 divers who have been trained as RCCA Divers since 2006 as we continue to engage Californians in actively improving marine management.

Check out the links below to get more details on RCCA Team Members in action:
Nor/Cen Cal- 7/9/08 Wenesday – Coral St. Mop-up- SUCCESS!!!
Nor/Cen Cal- 7/12/08 Saturday- Escapade Charter SUCCESS!!!
Orange County Training complete – a success!
OC: North Crescent Bay, Saturday July 12

  Reef Check Baja California: New and recertified fishermen monitor Marine Protected Areas of Isla Natividad

By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson

I have just returned from a very productive trip to Isla Natividad, Baja California Sur. It is an incredible project that we are fortunate to be involved with as partners with the Mexican NGO Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI).

To give you some background, fishermen in Mexico can form cooperatives and gain access to exclusive fishing rights or concessions to a particular area. In this case, the Cooperativa Buzos y Pescadores de Isla Natividad owns the concession around Isla Natividad. More information about the Coopertiva and the Isla Natividad Marine Reserve Project is on COBI’s website.

In partnership with COBI, the members of the Cooperativa voluntarily closed two areas to extractive fishing in 2006. They provide 24-hour surveillance for the whole island to ensure there is no poaching both inside and outside the reserves. Their main fisheries are abalone, wavy turban snail, sea cucumber, and lobster. The idea is to truly test the notion that reserves can serve as sources to seed the surrounding fished areas. Invertebrates are a particularly good candidate to test this hypothesis as they are relatively sedentary, and it is much easier to ensure a significant portion of the population will remain within the boundaries of a reserve.

Mary Luna (Reef Check’s IYOR facilitator) and I went to the island to recertify local fishermen who were trained last year and to train four new divers or “buzos”…

  International Year of the Reef Update

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is hosting the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona on October 5 -14, 2008. During this congress, IUCN will celebrate the IYOR by highlighting coral reefs and oceans, and will show short movies about these. If you would like to contribute footage for this event on any of the following categories, please contact A script is available upon request and all contributors will be acknowledged:

Coral bleaching Coral acclimatization Zooxanthellae clades
Herbivory and resilience Reproduction and connectivity Coral morphology
Shading and screening Water movement Resilience-based management

The Ultimate Diver Challenge will be held on the beautiful island of Cozumel August 2 – 9, 2008. During this event, divers will compete to earn the title of “Ultimate Diver” and the great prizes associated with it. In celebration of the IYOR, the organizers are joining forces with IYOR Mexico and Reef Check to increase diver awareness. To learn more and to sign up, please visit

Reef Check’s International Photo Contest,What Do Reefs Mean to You?”, is now running! Remember to submit your photos and invite your friends to participate. Entries must be in by August 31! The goal of this contest is to celebrate the beauty of reefs and raise awareness through inspiring images. Please click here to check out entries from all over the world.

Have you signed the International Declaration of Reef Rights?
Join the 12,035 ocean lovers from 139 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

Reef Check Coordinators from two dozen countries participated in the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, from July 7 – 11, and many continued on with the twice-yearly International Coral Reef General Meeting. ICRS, held every four years, is the world’s largest coral reef science meeting. It was hard to find a session without Reef Check members presenting papers and posters!

Highlights included a paper from RC Jamaica's Loureene Jones using Reef Check data from the entire Caribbean, followed by her announcement that her country had incorporated 31 Reef Check sites into their national monitoring program. RC Fiji's Ed Lovell, Helen Sykes, and Norman Quinn presented temperature data and noted that coral cover on some Fijian reefs now exceeds the level seen there prior to the devastating 1998 bleaching event. Helen Sykes also prepared a poster about the Marine Protected Area in Waitabu, Taveuni Island, Fiji. RC Australia's Jos Hill presented an important paper demonstrating the high level of accuracy and precision of Reef Check data collected by volunteers on the Great Barrier Reef. Mariko Abe and colleagues from RC Japan had two poster presentations showing the results of ten years of monitoring in Japan, with a focus on Okinawa. The story from Okinawa was very exciting because it showed how inshore reefs suffering disturbance from sedimentation recovered more slowly compared to offshore reefs. In addition, the RC Japan team discovered a huge stand of blue coral (Heliopora coerulea) 80m long, 27m wide, and 11m high, previously unknown in this location.

Reef Check Indonesia Teams Up With Coca-Cola for Bali Coastal Clean-Up Program

“Everybody leaves a footprint, and everybody has a responsibility. So, let’s do the right things together!” said Reef Check Indonesia Foundation chairwoman Naneng Setiasih at the opening of the Coca-Cola for Bali Coastal Clean-Up Program, a collaboration to raise awareness about the garbage problem in coastal areas.

The opening was held July 13th in Kuta by Naneng Setiasih and Tery Davis, the Group Managing Director of Coca-Cola Amatil. Clean-up activities were done simultaneously at Kuta Beach, Sanur, and Nusa Lembongan. A total of 446 volunteers participated, including Miss Indonesia 2005 Nadine Candrawinata, singer Nugie, surfer Tipi Jabrik, and actor Marcel Candrawinata. About 7.8 m3 of garbage was collected from the three areas after only one hour of cleanup. The opening event also sold 1,260 special wristbands, raising 12.6 million rupiah ($1,377 USD)

Reef Check Indonesia and Coca-Cola Indonesia initiated the program as part of the International Year of the Reef to raise awareness and public involvement for garbage management in Bali. While the initial goal is to clean the beaches, waters, and reefs of Bali, the program also aims to generate an environmentally-minded movement by increasing awareness and involvement of people in garbage management as well as government and other strategic stakeholders to support the effort…

Reef Check Dominican Republic Participates in Cross-Cultural Fishermen Exchange

Reef Check Dominican Republic Director, Ruben Torres PhD, and Peace Corps Volunteer Colleen Gatliff, along with representatives from the Fishing Association of Juanillo-Punta Cana (APEJU) and La Caleta Fishing Association, spent a week visiting fishing communities throughout the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Funding for the trip was provided by The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and the United Nations Environment Program.

The trip was planned to validate and increase the leadership capacity of the APEJU and La Caleta fishermen, expose them to well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) in Mexico, and introduce them to alternative gear choices and sustainable fishing strategies. The group visited three different Mexican fishing associations and three marine protected areas in the region, which allowed for exchanges of ideas with other fishermen who have been successful in changing their fishing methods and organization, and now work successfully in tourist areas. Puerto Morelos, Cozumel, and Punta Allen were the three locations the group visited.

Dominican fishermen were impressed with the “abundant and large marine fauna and MPA management they saw while scuba diving at Cozumel, excellent organization, structure and empowerment of fishing cooperatives in Puerto Morelos and Punta Allen, alternative fishing methods (fly fishing at Punta Allen), and the extremely successful lobster fisheries with casitas at Punta Allen.” The group was also able to ride along with a group of lobster fishermen on the first open day of the season to learn more about the methods of sustainable harvesting used by the Mexican fishermen…

Training Kicks Off Reef Check Cambodia Program

Enthusiastic volunteers took the first step in creating a Reef Check team in Cambodia with a training weekend held on the 5th and 6th of July in Sinoukville, Cambodia. A group of volunteers were trained by a tropical marine ecologist from the Ministry of Fisheries (FiA), who was very happy to see the support and interest from these individuals in conserving Cambodia's marine resources. The Ministry of Fisheries is hoping to develop a lasting relationship with the team, which consist of scientists, conservationists and professional divers, to perform data collection in support the FiA's objectives. With the training complete, the group of scientists has received further support from the Dive Shop Cambodia, who is giving human and logistical support to collect as much data as possible from a number of sites around the islands off Sinoukville.

This is a great step toward marine protection and all participants felt it was an incredibly positive day. Both the marine science team and the FiA are looking forward to a productive working relationship to conserve the marine environment of Cambodia.

Vermont Students Survey Reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Reef Check Castleton is a student based organization out of Castleton State College in Vermont. In May of 2008, the 12 member team performed four surveys in St. John, USVI. This was the kick-off of an anticipated annual monitoring project, specifically focusing on the changes occurring in the Maho Bay camps. By performing periodic monitoring of the Maho Bay area, the team hopes to track changes in reef health following the private sale of the eco-resort and probable subsequent development of the area.

During the week-long visit to the island, the team witnessed reefs with low human impact and those with an increased human impact and discerned that Maho Bay is an area of interest for tracking the effects development has on coastal reef communities. Other surveyed areas, such as Little and Greater Lameshur Bays, will also continue to be areas of interest due to their location within National Park waters.

Mark Your Calendars

Reef Rescue 2008 at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific: November 15, 2008

Make plans to join the Reef Check Foundation at our annual Reef Rescue Gala! This exciting event will take place at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach on Saturday, November 15 and will feature celebrities, a live scuba exhibition, hula dancers, and cuisine from reef nations around the world. This year, we have the distinct privilege of honoring an individual whose deep commitment to ocean conservation is extraordinary: Greg MacGillivray of MacGillivray Freeman Films will receive the 2008 Spirit of the Reef Award for documenting the beauty and fragility of the reefs and oceans in IMAX splendor in films such as Coral Reef Adventure. Besides having over 40 large format films to his credit, Greg is also known to surfers for creating the surfing classic, “Five Summer Stories.”

We are currently seeking sponsorships and items for our live and silent auctions. Please contact if you are interested in participating.