2023 Year in Review

As we approach the end of another year, I find myself reflecting on the incredible achievements we have accomplished together in 2023. On behalf of the entire Reef Check team, I want to express my deepest gratitude to our global community of volunteers, donors, and partners. Without your unwavering support, none of this would have been possible.

Throughout the year, Reef Check has dedicated countless hours to the vital task of monitoring coral reefs and kelp forests, restoring habitats impacted by climate change, and advocating for environmental justice and equity. Our tireless efforts have yielded remarkable results, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have achieved together.

I invite you to take a moment to explore some of our collective accomplishments in 2023, which are detailed at the link below. It is my hope that you will find inspiration and joy in reading about the positive impact we have made on our precious marine ecosystems.

As we look forward to the new year, I ask you to consider a donation to Reef Check if you are in a position to do so. Your generous contributions play a crucial role in enabling us to meet the growing demand for our work. Every donation is deeply appreciated and helps us continue our mission of protecting and preserving our oceans.

As we enter the holiday season, I want to extend my warmest wishes to you and your loved ones. May this festive time bring you joy, peace, and a renewed sense of hope. Here’s to a new year filled with even greater achievements and continued collaboration in the name of marine conservation.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Dr. Jan Freiwald
Executive Director
Reef Check Foundation

Transnational Reef Check Team Surveys Kelp Forest at Coronado Islands in Baja California, Mexico

In October of this year, a transnational team of Reef Check divers from Southern California and Ensenada, Mexico embarked on a trip to monitor and safeguard the vital kelp ecosystems around the Coronado Islands just south of the Mexico/US border. Fueled by a shared commitment to safeguarding the ocean, these volunteers contributed their time and expertise to monitor and protect the marine ecosystems surrounding these remote islands.

Reef Check Malaysia Closes 2023 with Valuable Local Community Engagement

Reef Check Malaysia has been up to a lot these last months of 2023! A mapping exercise during a conference in Sabah revealed that 17 local coastal community groups are protecting more than 12,000 hectares of marine and coastal areas spanning Mantanani Island to Semporna. Local welders also participated in training sessions to be able to participate in coral restoration deployments. Education programs in Tioman and Mersing also engaged local youth in various activities, from a tidal walk to a SCUBA certification class.

Video Spotlight: Spotted! Sunflower star in Northern California

Reef Check’s North Coast Regional Manager Ian Norton and Dive into Science Program Manager Morgan Murphy-Cannella spotted a critically endangered sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) while conducting an MPA monitoring survey at Van Damme in Mendocino County, California on October 28th, 2023. This is an exciting find and great news for the prospect of species recovery as sunflower star is considered locally extinct, with their numbers decimated over the last decade by sea star wasting disease, contributing to the population explosion of purple urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) and the resulting loss of over 95% of bull kelp along the north coast of California. The sunflower star is an important keystone predator in the rocky reef ecosystems in Alaska and along the west coast of North America and has been on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2020.

Reef Check in the News

Video: Divers fight to save California’s kelp forests threatened by warming ocean waters – Associated Press

From urchin crushing to lab-grown kelp, efforts to save California’s kelp forests show promise – Associated Press

Reef Check Dominican Republic and Judith Gobin honored for contributions to Caribbean Conservation – Dominican Today

‘Minor’ bleaching recorded at Hong Kong’s reefs but coral remains generally healthy, annual survey finds – Hong Kong Free Press

Volunteer divers guard Oman’s ‘unique’ coral reefs – Phys.org

Impact of human activities on Mersing islands to be checked through survey – The Star (Malaysia)

Samish Nation protects ‘breathtaking’ kelp forests, nearshore habitat – Salish Current (Washington)

For more, visit www.reefcheck.org/press/