The Transect Line – July 2011 Newsletter Archive
Matching Campaign Doubles Your Donation Technical Question of the Month: Site Selection
Reef Check California Update Support Reef Check With Screamin Daily Deals!
Brunei Announces Plans for First MPA Network and National Monitoring Program Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans Gala 2011
Reef Check Sayulita Completes First Survey    

Matching Campaign Doubles Your Donation to Reef Check
We are thrilled to announce the Campbell Boat Match Campaign, a wonderful opportunity for you to double your donation to Reef Check. The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment has pledged to match every donation to Reef Check’s California Program through the end of 2011 directed towards the cost of our reef monitoring trips. Boat charters are one of the highest and fastest growing costs of the California Program. Your gift of $150 usually buys two hours of boat time, but with the Campbell Foundation’s match, you are actually supporting four hours of valuable boat time – enough for an entire reef survey!

With California’s new statewide network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in place, it is vitally important to monitor reef ecosystems as they recover, and natural resource managers rely on Reef Check data to make better management decisions. Reef Check California now surveys 80 reefs along the entire 1000-mile long coast of California, and while we are able to keep our administrative costs at less than 15%, we spend over 45% of our California operational costs on boat charters. We need your help to maintain our presence in the water.

Our goal is to raise all our 2011 boat costs through this fundraising campaign, so please give generously. We aim to raise $40,000 in donations, which will be matched 1:1 by the Campbell Foundation. This is a wonderful opportunity to help improve the health of California’s reefs and ocean.

We are a non-profit organization, so every single dollar donated is tax-deductible. Please help us by donating now online or by sending a check to Reef Check, P.O. Box 1057, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-1057 USA.

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Reef Check California Update
By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald

Reef Check California’s survey season is in full swing. Teams of volunteers all over the state are going out every weekend to survey the reefs and kelp forests along the coast. We just completed our final public trainings for the year and, armed with a very solid group of volunteers, are ready to tackle new challenges. This year promises to become another successful one for RCCA of monitoring established sites and steady growth of our monitoring network. 

In June, the California Fish and Game Commission voted for the new marine protected areas (MPAs) in southern California to go into effect on October 1st, 2011. This is exciting news, not only for southern California, but for the entire state moving one large step closer to completing the state-wide network of MPAs as mandated by the Marine Life Protection Act. When these MPAs are implemented, the state’s network will range from San Diego to Point Arena in Mendocino County. More information about the implementation and maps of the new MPAs can be found at the Department of Fish and Game website.

Reef Check will be one of the groups charged with the state-mandated baseline monitoring of these new MPAs! This month the MPA Monitoring Enterprise announced who was awarded funding to conduct this monitoring over the next three years. Reef Check will receive funding to monitor the rocky reefs in this region and will be working alongside several organizations and institutions to establish a comprehensive picture of the state of the ecosystem inside and outside of the MPAs. We are really excited to be part of this monitoring team! RC is now part of the MPA monitoring in all three regions of the state. In the central coast region we are working with our partners and the Monitoring Enterprise on the first five year review of the MPAs. Further north, we are in the second year of baseline monitoring of the MPAs established last year and we will now start the baseline for the new MPAs in the south. For more information on baseline monitoring and other groups involved, click here.

In our sixth year of data collection, RCCA has grown to be one of the key monitoring programs for the rocky reef and kelp forest habitats that California state agencies and marine managers rely on to develop and evaluate management strategies. This success is a reflection of the hard work of all the dedicated volunteers and of the quality of the data they collect. I would like to thank all of you – let’s keep up the good work!

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Brunei Announces Plans for First MPA Network and National Monitoring Program
By Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson

Brunei, a tiny country located on the north coast of Borneo, is probably best known for its Sultan – who is one of the richest people in the world. Perhaps because of the immense wealth coming from oil production, Brunei has not focused on marine conservation as much as neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia. Located within the Coral Triangle, close to the world center of marine biodiversity in the nearby Philippines, Brunei is an important coral reef country. A just published book by Lyndon Devantier and Emre Turak describes over 400 species of reef building corals found there.

Since 2010, Reef Check has been training a team from the Fisheries Department to monitor Brunei’s coral reefs and to design a national monitoring network as part of implementation of its first Marine Protected Area network.

In June, during World Ocean Day celebrations, Reef Check’s Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson invited Brunei’s Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, to scuba dive for the first time. An avid mountain biker, the Minister had grown up on the water in a “stilt house,” so despite a strong current and less than ideal visibility, the minister was relaxed in the water and enjoyed the dive.

After the dive, the Minister stated, “We're doing this to bring light to the richness and the potential threats [and] dangers to coral reefs. I happened to see netting caught in the coral reefs damaging the coral life, [and] plastic floating around,” he said. He also suggested that all students in Brunei should have the chance to see the coral reefs.

Later, during a speech, the Minister formally announced that Brunei will establish a network of MPAs and place a moratorium on trawl fishing licenses. As part of the MPA plan, Reef Check has helped the Fisheries Department to formulate a draft “Coral Reef Monitoring Plan.” The plan stipulates carrying out 65 surveys twice per year at 15 reef areas. It also includes monitoring sites that will fall inside and outside the MPA network for comparative purposes once the MPAs are in place.

“It will be fun to watch the fish come back to the reefs once the MPAs are implemented,” said Dr. Hodgson. “We don't need to prove anything. We know that if you allow a system to return to its natural state, the fish are part of that equation. It is wonderful to have a scuba diving Minister who understands the importance of marine conservation.”

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Reef Check Sayulita Completes First Survey
Submitted by Kevin Roberts of Punta Sayulita

  On June 18th, the Sayulita (Mexico) chapter of Reef Check performed its first quarterly survey on the reefs at the Marietas Islands. The reefs are located in the waters off Puerto Vallarta, about 12 miles south of Sayulita. The Marietas Islands survey site is a government-protected environmental zone and it hosts the most abundant amount of coral in the Banderas Bay. This is the same location where Reef Check’s Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson performed an EcoDiver training course last year, generously sponsored by the Punta Sayulita Foundation. Dr. Adrian Maldonado, a marine biologist and member of the Sayulita EcoDiver program, will be presenting the data gathered in the Sayulita survey, as well as the monitoring protocol established by Reef Check, at the Mexican Congress for Coral Reefs in Ensenada, Baja California Sur, on August 24 – 26. For more information on RC Sayulita, contact Kevin Roberts.

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Technical Question of the Month
Each month, Reef Check will answer a technical question regarding the monitoring protocol of our coral reef or rocky reef programs. If you have a question you would like answered, please email

Reef Check Tropical – Why are the ‘best’ sites chosen for the survey?

Site selection is a critical factor in the success of Reef Check. One goal of Reef Check is to test the null hypothesis that there are reefs that are not affected significantly by human impacts. In addition, we want information on the geographic distribution of various types of human impacts on all reefs. For this reason, Reef Check teams that can only survey one site should survey the “best” site they have access to in terms of least likely to have been affected by human impacts such as fishing, pollution, etc. Such a site should have high living hard coral cover, and dense fish and mobile invertebrate populations.

For groups willing and able to survey multiple sites, then we suggest choosing two or more additional sites representative of moderate and heavy human impacts. In this manner, we can build up a picture of the distribution of human impacts on a cross section of reef.

With all site selection, however, it is important to remember that a survey is only a sample of the coral reef environment. If you are interested in the health of an entire reef, you will need to set up a number of Reef Check survey sites at a number of locations.

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Support Reef Check With Screamin Daily Deals!
We are pleased to announce that we have established a partnership with Screamin Daily Deals. They have offered to donate 10% of their profit proceeds to our organization, when you join their free website and select Reef Check Foundation to receive the proceeds. Screamin Daily Deals offers you 50-90% off deals on local restaurants, whale watching, kayaking, concerts, spa treatments, and much, much more in California and other states! Please sign up for free, at, select Reef Check Foundation, and help us receive 10% of the profit proceeds! Reef Check will also receive $1 for each email address registered. It’s absolutely free, and the deals are amazing. It’s a win-win!

To help out, please go to:
1. Choose your area and click Continue
2. Enter your email address and click Continue
3. Choose the areas of the city you would like to see deals for, and click Next Step
4. Choose Select a Community Partner, then click on Non-profit to support
5. Verify the region is set as San Diego <this is separate from the area you selected as your location>
6. Type in Reef Check Foundation and click Finish
7. Check your email and make sure you have received a sign up confirmation!

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Get Your Tickets! Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans Gala 2011
Join Reef Check's efforts to “Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans” at this year's gala fundraiser!

On Friday, September 16, we will celebrate the important work of the Reef Check Foundation, on the sand, at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, California. It will be a casual “toes in the sand” evening featuring never-before-seen footage from the world’s leading underwater filmmakers along with an opportunity to meet some of the thousands of volunteer divers who monitor these essential natural resources.

The evening will also recognize the contributions of three “Heroes of the Reef” each having demonstrated an exemplary commitment to ocean conservation. Marine artist Wyland, famous for his Whaling Walls, has long promoted the urgency of protecting and preserving the world’s oceans, waterways and marine life through his artwork and the work of the Wyland Foundation. Emmy Award-winning underwater filmmakers Michele and Howard Hall, best known for their underwater IMAX films, will be recognized for extraordinary achievement in film and photography inspiring millions around the world to appreciate and protect their oceans.

Tickets can be purchased online at

Sponsorship opportunities are available, please click here for more information. If you would like to donate an item for our silent auction, please download our auction donation form.

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Reef Check P.O. Box 1057 Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-1057 USA