The Transect Line – March 2008
Reef Check California

Update from the Reef Check California Director
By Dr. Craig Shuman

Spring is right around the corner which means it is time to dust off our dive gear and prepare for another year of sampling. We have an incredibly busy year planned with eight trainings and four recertification courses to prepare our teams to resurvey the 48 sites we have established along California’s coast from Mendocino County to San Diego.

I am pleased to announce that we have some exciting new staffing changes on tap. After almost three years at the helm, I will be stepping down as the Director of the Reef Check California Program. This has allowed us to restructure the staffing of the program to create two new positions.  Our own Cyndi Dawson, former Central/North Coast Regional Manager, will become the new Director of Science focused on training, data collection and data analysis.  We have hired a new California Program Manager, Dr. Fiona Nagle, to help manage the day to day operations of the program and focus on expanding our education and outreach efforts.  Fiona recently completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in conservation biology/conflict management and brings a wealth of talent to help round out the skills of the RCCA team. I am highly confident that with the help of our expert staff and dedicated volunteers, Cyndi and Fiona will successfully guide RCCA to the next level.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as the Director of the Reef Check California Program and I will remain on the Reef Check Board of Directors. Your commitment and dedication have been the key to our success, and I look forward to joining all of you at upcoming events and surveys as a fellow Reef Check supporter in the coming year.

Support Reef Check While Surfing the Web With

A new search engine project,, has just made its online debut. Dedicated exclusively to the environment, 50% of gross revenues generated by the search engine's users will go directly to benefit some of the nation’s top environmental organizations, including Reef Check. is a fundraising tool that will work 24/7 to help provide funding for these organizations to help them reach their organizational goals. All you have to do is use the next time you search the web. Websites and blogs can also make an impact by putting a search widget on their site for their users or direct them to to develop their custom home page. In addition, its AJAX portal option offers users a means of customizing their home page as well as access to a wide variety of information and tools from across the Web. Each organization’s portal includes specific widgets and news that support its initiatives.

International Year of the Reef

International Year of the Reef 2008 Update

The Philippines Tourism Authority launched the International Year of the Reef during this year's Philippines Dive Expo (PDX).  PDX was a great event that included a children's drawing contest, a fashion show by a surf wear company, and cocktails. This event also provided great exposure for Reef Check Philippines; its Director, Dr. Domingo Ochavillo, gave a talk about our work, the status of Philippines’ reefs, and what people can do during IYOR. For more information, please visit

Aruba is also moving forward with IYOR and has several events planned including art and photo competitions, beach and underwater cleanups, and fish identification and coral monitoring activities. For more details, please visit the IYOR Calendar section of our Reef Check Forum.

Reef Check Malaysia Participates in IYOR Launch Celebration

IYOR 2008 was officially launched in Malaysia on February 23 by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin. Festivities included the appointing of Maya Karin as the goodwill ambassador for IYOR 2008 in Malaysia. Maya is an award-winning actress, singer, and model, and she has been very active in the conservation efforts of several organizations for Malaysia. The IYOR 2008 launch was held in conjunction with a photo exhibition of marine life, and the main event was the signing of the International Declaration of Reef Rights by Datuk Suboh and Maya Karin.

Have you signed the International Declaration of Reef Rights?
Join the 8590 ocean lovers from 132 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 Guadeloupe Educates Kids About Local Reefs

On January 12th, the Terre d’Avenir organization along with Regional Environmental Direction (DIREN) and the Pareto Ecoconsult Environmental Engineering office organized a demonstration aimed at educating young children about the degradation of the health of the coral reefs of Guadeloupe. After carrying out a mock survey in the lagoon, the students from Bragelogne in Saint Francois, aged 5 to 10 years old, signed the International Declaration of Reef Rights. Local marine experts were also on hand to explain the impacts on the marine environment, including coral reefs, mangroves, and marine turtles.

Mark Your Calendars

Earth Day Outreach Events

April is Earth Month and Reef Check will be participating in a few of the Southern California outreach festivals aimed at enlightening the public about the many environmental issues affecting our planet.  We need your help to spread the word about Reef Check, the global reef crisis, and what people can do to help. Please see below for some great opportunities to get involved:

MARCH 30 – Divers Day at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific
APRIL 12 – Earth Day LA on the 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica
APRIL 12 & 13 – Green Living Expo at the LA Convention Center
APRIL 19 – Earth Day at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point
APRIL 27 – STAR ECO Station Children's Earth Day, Culver City

If you are interested in volunteering at the Reef Check booth at any of these events, please contact us at

Cabarete, Dominican Republic EcoExpedition – June 20-29, 2008

Join Reef Check for a 10-day EcoAction Expedition to Cabarete, Dominican Republic, on the beautiful island of Hispaniola!  The trip is open to both skin and scuba divers and all will have the opportunity to become certified Reef Check EcoDivers while exploring the culture and ecology of the Dominican Republic.  The trip will be led by RC Dominican Republic Director Dr. Ruben Torres (Univ. Miami), an outstanding marine biologist.  Participants will learn how to assess the health of Caribbean coral reef ecosystems and will use these skills to survey reefs facing various threats from pollution and overfishing. The data will contribute to marine management in the Dominican Republic.

Red Sea Reef Check Safari with Sinai Divers – May 8-15, 2008

Join Sinai Divers and Reef Check aboard the Ghazala I on this 7-night liveaboard safari in the Red Sea. Enjoy the colorful soft corals, fascinating variety of fishes and with some luck, even Sharks and Manta Rays. A special extra on this safari is that you will be accompanied by marine biologists who will teach you the Reef Check protocol. Sinai Divers will donate 10% of the earnings to Reef Check.

Reef Check and Earthwatch Team Up for Thailand EcoExpeditions

Snorkel and dive Thailand's amazing coral reefs to conserve biodiversity. Thailand's coral reefs are some of the most magnificent and diverse on Earth. Like many of the world's reef systems, Thailand's reefs are facing the pressures of overfishing and destructive fishing practices, such as cyanide poisoning and explosives, as well as the threats posed by global warming and coral diseases. Reef Check's Dr. Georg Heiss and Kim Obermeyer are joining forces with Earthwatch to conduct baseline assessments of Thailand's resplendent coral reefs and to set up a long-term monitoring program. There are 8 expeditions scheduled for 2008-book your spot today!

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