The Transect Line – June 2012 Newsletter Archive
Reef Check Spotlight: California Adopts New MPAs Along Northern Coast Cousteau Visits Reef Check Dominican Republic
Reef Check California's New Adopt-a-Reef Program Reef Check’s Annual Gala is Going to Make a Big Splash
Community Centred Conservation (C3) Certifies New Reef Check Trainers 2013 Expeditions in Malaysia & Honduras

Reef Check Spotlight: California Adopts New MPAs Along Northern Coast
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By Reef Check California's North-Central Coast Manager Megan Wehrenberg

On June 6, 2012 the California Fish and Game Commission approved and adopted the boundaries and regulations for a new set of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the northern region of the state, an area stretching from Alder Creek near Point Arena to the California/Oregon border. The decision was a major milestone as the planning process for this region began in June 2009 and included numerous public workshops, over 75 days of meetings with public input, and extensive public comment throughout the regulatory and environmental review processes. The plan includes 19 MPAs, a recreational management area, and 7 special closures covering 13% of the region’s state waters. The north coast regulations include a unique provision for federally recognized tribal members to continue harvesting and gathering fish, kelp, and shellfish as they have for generations. The provision will allow non-commercial take to continue, in MPAs other than State Marine Reserves, where there is a record of ancestral take by a specific tribe. The north coast MPAs are expected to go into effect in early 2013.

The north coast was the fourth and final region needed to complete California’s statewide network of MPAs. The MPAs were developed to fulfill the mission of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), the first statutory mandate of its kind in the nation, requiring that California's MPAs be designed/redesigned based on the best available science, with identified goals and objectives and the advice and input of stakeholders and experts to create a statewide network. The entire network of state MPAs now includes 119 MPAs, 5 recreational management areas, and 15 special closures covering 16% of open coast state waters from Mexico to the Oregon state line. This management measure has not only been groundbreaking in terms of ocean protection but also employed a cutting-edge public process, which greatly improved with each successive region.

Reef Check has been involved in the MLPA process since its onset, providing the Department of Fish and Game with scientifically-rigorous data collected along the California coast since 2006. Many Reef Check survey sites are inside MPA boundaries, or directly outside of them, which will prove to be very useful to managers interested in measuring any changes that occur as a result of the MPAs.

The MLPA process mandates that the MPAs must be adaptively managed, meaning that they will be monitored over time and perhaps amended to maintain efficacy. Therefore, once MPAs are chosen in a region, a thorough, multidisciplinary study of the coast is conducted to create a baseline of conditions for future comparisons. A consortium of researchers is selected to collect and analyze this “before data.” Reef Check has been a member of these consortiums collecting baseline data for the Central Coast, North-Central Coast, and the South Coast MPAs. This has been an incredibly important time to be monitoring California’s rocky reefs! Our staff and volunteers feel honored to be collecting data that is so critical to the science-based management and conservation of our coasts!

[This article was adapted from the CDFG press release]

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Reef Check California's New Adopt-a-Reef Program
We are very excited to announce the much-anticipated launch of the Reef Check California Adopt-a-Reef Program. On June 13, 2012, the Reef Check Foundation successfully launched the program at a Dana Point community and media event held by our four founding partners: the Monarch Beach Resort, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, the Doubletree Suites by Hilton Hotel Doheny Beach, Dana Point, and the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa. The Adopt-a-Reef program aims to partner with California’s corporate brands to sponsor and support the monitoring of California’s reefs and kelp forests. Through these partnerships with coastal communities and companies, the Adopt-a-Reef program will leverage the support and resources of local businesses to directly sponsor local volunteer teams to annually monitor the health of their local marine ecosystems. By replicating this model on a statewide basis, the Adopt-a-Reef program engages California’s business community to take direct action and a very proactive and forward-thinking stance in moving beyond business-specific environmentally friendly practices towards actions that positively impact their local, and our global, community.

Please contact Geoffrey Ravenhill if you would like to know more about the Adopt-a-Reef program and how you can join as a local business or community to sponsor your local volunteer group and the monitoring of your local reefs and kelp forests.

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Community Centred Conservation (C3) Certifies New Reef Check Trainers
By Reef Check EcoDiver Course Director Jim Catlin

Throughout April and May 2012, recently qualified Reef Check Course Director Jim Catlin trained work colleagues from the NGO Community Centred Conservation (C3) as Reef Check EcoDivers and EcoDiver Trainers. After coordinating training for C3 staff in Madagascar last year, it was the turn of the facilitation team to get involved and swap their desks for the beautiful reefs of Dahab in the Red Sea!

As marine scientists with considerable field experience, training with team C3 focused mainly on the Reef Check methodology and classification of substrate categories. The initial training was carried out in the calm waters of Southern Oasis with a perfect reef slope for practice surveys and identification exercises. This proved to be a lot of fun and included sightings of a beautiful peppered moray and sizeable Red Sea coral grouper.

After successful completion of the EcoDiver course, including some impressive classroom tests, the newly qualified recruits put their skills into practice by carrying out a full Reef Check survey at Lighthouse. This site is one of the most heavily dived in the region and situated in the main bay of the town, making it an interesting and important area to study potential human impacts to the reef. The C3 team surveyed Lighthouse reef at two depths, 4m and 11m. Results indicated a 53% hard coral cover for the shallower depth dropping to 20% cover at 11m. Butterflyfish and Parrotfish were the most common target fish species identified; snappers and groupers were less abundant. Clear waters and high levels of sunlight also meant that plenty of giant clams were recorded, some reaching 30-40cm in size.

Overall, anthropogenic impact was low with minimal Nutrient Indicator Algae and trash recorded, which, considering the site's proximity to human settlements and the high diver and snorkeler pressure, is encouraging to see. This is most likely due to the fact that the reefs in Egypt, and throughout the Red Sea, boast a high level of legal protection which is enforced not only by the local authorities but by the diving communities that live and work here- an important example of how a national regulatory framework for reef protection can work.

C3 was borne out of the aspirations of three young people in Palau, Micronesia in 2002, who were passionate about nature but disillusioned with the approach of large international organizations, particularly the lack of time and funds spent at the grassroots level to truly understand and appreciate communities’ needs and fully involve them in the development of conservation strategies. C3 is a truly community-based organization which focuses on a two-way process for conservation; learning from local communities about their knowledge of the environment and at the same time providing them with the information they require from collaborative scientific studies to make their own decisions about sustainable resource management. C3 is currently providing Reef Check training in Madagascar, Fiji and the Philippines.

For further information:,, twitter @c3update

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Cousteau Visits Reef Check Dominican Republic
Environmental scientist, Pierre-Yves Cousteau, the son of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, visited the Dominican Republic as part of an international court day which seeks to perpetuate and strengthen environmental awareness around the world. The younger Cousteau has been continuing his father’s legacy by teaching future generations about environmental conservation. On June 19th 2012 Pierre-Yves Cousteau dove at La Caleta National Underwater Park, an ocean conservation area co-managed by Reef Check Dominican Republic.

While helping the environment, the park also benefits local residents. La Caleta provides an alternative income for the nearby fishing community; many local fishermen have been trained in Reef Check and now manage a small ecotourism business, El Carey Aquatic Center, located at the park. This center now allows fishermen to offer ecotourism activities and dive equipment rentals to support themselves, their families, and La Caleta National Underwater Park. For more information visit

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Reef Check’s Annual Gala is Going to Make a Big Splash

With September 8th right around the corner, Reef Check is organizing its annual Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans gala at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica.

The evening will recognize the contributions of our “Heroes of the Reef” each having demonstrated an exemplary commitment to ocean conservation.

Our honorees include California Assemblymember Paul Fong, who will receive the Reef Stewardship Award for his commitment to the conservation of our seas, demonstrated by his leadership in the authoring and successful passage of the bill banning the sale or possession of shark fins in California, as well as his current efforts to raise awareness and protect the Leatherback Sea Turtle.

Receiving the Poseidon Award are Commissioner Richard B. Rogers from the California Fish & Game Commission, William W. Anderson and Gregory F. Schem from the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force, and Don Benninghoven, MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force member and former California Fish & Game Commissioner. They are being recognized for their leadership and public service in the creation of a statewide network of marine protected areas in California through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA).

Our Gala will also include silent and live auctions featuring fabulous vacations, fun activities, and an assortment of gift certificates. Ticket sales will begin soon, so don’t miss your opportunity to be part of a wonderful night.

For sponsorship and auction donation opportunities, visit

For additional information please call Reef Check at 310.230.2371 or email

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Dates for 2013 Expeditions in Malaysia & Honduras Have Been Released!

Join Biosphere Expeditions and Reef Check in Malaysia or Honduras next year! Four trips have recently been announced, each include Reef Check EcoDiver training.

Reef Check/Biosphere Expeditions EcoExpedition: Malaysia
March 10-22 or March 24-April 5, 2013

The island of Pulau Tioman is located 40 km off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. It is the Malaysian island named by Time Magazine as one of the world's most beautiful. Tioman has a relaxed, quiet feel with beautiful, sandy beaches and a densely forested interior. The reefs of Pulau Tioman Marine Park are some of the healthiest and most diverse around peninsular Malaysia and lie just inside the 'coral triangle', an area that has been identified as having the highest diversity of coral species anywhere in the world. The reefs in the coral triangle support 600+ genera of reef-building corals, 3000+ species of fish and contain 75% of all coral species known to science. A Marine Parks division of the government is present on the island, however the island's growing tourist trade, crown of thorns population, booms and developments on land are threatening the reefs' health and so data on the current biological status of the reefs and of population levels of key indicator species are crucial for park management and educational efforts.

Working in a very small group of five participants, one scientist and one expedition leader, you will assist the local researcher to study and protect the local Marine Park's beautiful but fragile coral reefs, as well as its marine megafauna such as sharks, dolphins & turtles. For the first five days of training and familiarising yourself with the Reef Check research techniques, you will be based at a beach chalet resort on Tioman island. After this, you will move to a 45 ft sloop rig sailing yacht research vessel, which will take you to remote areas of the Marine Park. The expedition includes training as a Reef Check EcoDiver. Please note that you need to be a fully qualified diver to take part in this expedition (minimum PADI Open Water or equivalent).

For more information and how to sign up, please visit:

Reef Check/Biosphere Expeditions EcoExpedition: Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
May 4-11 or May 12-19, 2013

Cayos Cochinos, Honduras is a marine protected area in the Bay Island Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The Cayos Cochinos form part of the world’s second largest barrier reef systems, known as the Meso-American Barrier Reef, and have been identified as one of the key sections of barrier reef to preserve. The goals of this trip is to conduct a survey of the Cayos Cochinos reefs so that results can be compared to other parts of the Meso-American barrier reef system and worldwide in terms of the abundance and diversity of corals, algae, invertebrates and fish, and to monitor the health of the reef and its fish and invertebrates so that informed management and conservation decisions can be made by the government and NGOs. Reef Check survey protocols will be used and added to Reef Check’s global database.

Expedition members must be at least PADI Open Water (or equivalent) scuba certified to take part in this expedition but will be trained in diving and survey techniques. Additional training for Reef Check certification is available for those keen on seizing the opportunity in this great locale. The base is the well-equipped Honduras Coral Reef Foundation scientific station on a small coral cay island accessible only to research personnel; accommodation is in comfortable, spacious wooden bungalow cabins by the beach with a lounge, toilets and showers.

For more information and how to sign up, please visit:

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