The Transect Line – September/October 2014 Newsletter Archive
Reef Check Honors Marine Conservation Leaders at Annual Gala Turks and Caicos Establishes Nationwide Coral Reef Monitoring Program
Farewell Megan, Welcome to New Central California Manager Dan Abbott Maldives Expedition Looks at Recovery from 1998 Bleaching Event
Reef Check Is Now Accepting Bitcoin Donations! Reef Check Indonesia EcoDiver Becomes First Ever CORAL Conservation Prize Winner
Save Reefs with Your Holiday Purchases from nine five ltd.    

Reef Check Honors Marine Conservation Leaders at Annual Gala
Julie Packard, Poseidon Award Honoree

On October 2nd, Reef Check held its annual “Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans” gala on the sand at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, back dropped by a gorgeous sunset and perfect weather. With two hundred guests in attendance, the gala celebrated three conservation heroes for their outstanding environmental dedication and commitment.

Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Marine Biologist, accepted the Poseidon Award for her lifelong devotion to marine conservation and the promotion of sound environmental policy. She gave a passionate speech and showed a video clip highlighting the Aquarium’s education programs.

Ed Begley Jr. received the Spirit of the Reef Award for his dedication and passion for ocean

Ed Begley Jr., Spirit of the Reef Award Honoree

and environmental concerns. As an actor, director, and environmentalist, he has long been considered a leader in promoting greater environmental awareness in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Volunteer diver David Horwich received the Citizen Scientist of the Year Award for his participation in the Reef Check California Program since 2007. David has made more than 120 survey dives for Reef Check and leads many of the shore surveys in the Monterey Bay area.

Auctioneer Tyler Durman entertained the crowd while raising critical funds for Reef Check programs during the live auction and fund a need.

We’d like to thank those who attended, bid, donated, and volunteered to make this event a success! Special thanks to our sponsors: Body Glove, Edison International, Gibson Dunn, Houlihan Lokey, Mermaids in Motion, Nova Medical Products, Aloe Cadabra and VEEV.

Click here for more photos from the gala

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Farewell Megan, Welcome to New Central California Manager Dan Abbott
By Dr. Jan Freiwald, Reef Check California Program Director

In October, Megan Wehrenberg stepped down from her position as Central Coast Regional Manager for Reef Check California after working in this capacity for the last eight years. During her time with Reef Check, Megan was responsible for significantly expanding the program in Central and Northern California as well as strengthening ties with partner programs. Megan’s dedication and warm attitude will be missed by staff and volunteers alike. Megan and her husband Jonah (a Reef Check volunteer and contract instructor) are moving onto their sailboat where they plan on sailing the Pacific, and among other things, teaching diving and volunteering with Reef Check tropical programs along their way. We wish them the best of luck on their travels!

Long-time Reef Checker Dan Abbott has stepped in as the new Central Coast Regional Manager. Dan’s involvement with Reef Check California goes back to the beginning of the program. In 2005 Dan contributed to the development of RCCA monitoring protocols and took part in the first official Reef Check survey in California. Since then he has helped train many of the Reef Check California volunteers and taken part in surveys from Point Arena to Baja California. There's no doubt that he will fit right into the team and make great contributions to the growth of the program.

Dan is a graduate of UC Berkeley where in addition to undergoing scientific diver training, he received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Economics and Policy, an interdisciplinary program focused on marine resource management from both scientific and economic aspects. Most recently, Dan worked as a biologist for Tenera Environmental where he oversaw a large number of monitoring projects in San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and along the California Coast. Additionally Dan spearheaded Tenera’s successful application into AAUS and oversaw their dive program as their Diving Safety Officer. Dan is an active NAUI Instructor, a trained Outdoor Emergency Care Technician, and is a first aid and CPR instructor.

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Reef Check Is Now Accepting Bitcoin Donations!
Bitcoin is the new digital currency and Reef Check is the first marine conservation organization to accept Bitcoin donations.

Bitcoins are transferred without the intervention of a bank or financial institution and can be bought and sold globally over the Internet.

Why did Reef Check decide to adopt Bitcoin?

Since 98% of Reef Check runs on a volunteer basis, the value of any donation is multiplied by the work of thousands of volunteers around the world. With Bitcoin, your donation will mean even more – Bitcoin processers charge lower fees than banks meaning your donation goes further toward protecting our oceans. Reef Check is using BitPay to process Bitcoin donations.

More than a million people around the world are using Bitcoins. Reef Check has operations in over 90 countries and territories making Bitcoin a great option for our global donors to help protect the reefs and oceans.

How else can donations be made online?

Reef Check is still accepting donations by PayPal, credit card, eCheck and Google – we have added Bitcoin to give donors yet another option. There are more and more organizations starting to accept Bitcoin every day from local stores to online merchants and even other non-profits such as Greenpeace.

We at Reef Check are trying to make the process of giving as easy and enjoyable as possible so that we can continue to rely on your support to help us in our mission to save the oceans.

Visit to make your donation by Bitcoin or for any other payment method.

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Save Reefs with Your Holiday Purchases from nine five ltd.
Help make a difference this holiday season by supporting the “PUT A LID ON” movement by nine five ltd., a headwear and apparel company dedicated to supporting the greater good. Valid until December 15th, select Reef Check as your cause and use the coupon code REEFCHECK when checking out to receive 10% off your order. In addition, 20% of your order will be donated to Reef Check and saving reefs. That means that every time a customer buys a hat and selects Reef Check, they are helping us educate a child on the importance of reefs by providing them with a children’s book that will hopefully inspire them to protect what they love.

nine five ltd. was started with two goals in mind: to provide individuals with a headwear brand that defines their personality, their lifestyle and what they stand for…but more importantly, to team up with charities and foundations who seek to put an end to environmental, health and other global problems.

nine five ltd is a three word point of view worth paying some attention to. nine five stands for the 9 am to 5 pm routines we get caught up in – you know, when you start to simply go through the motions – and “ltd” stands for Live This Day. The adage “live this day” is the driving force and motto that nine five ltd. believes in and lives by. nine five ltd. believes it is our job to live each day on this earth to the fullest, help the less fortunate achieve the same and do everything we can to ensure a better tomorrow. This is where their “PUT A LID ON” movement comes in. The “PUT A LID ON” movement uses the purchasing power of their fans to benefit the earth and help those less fortunate live a better day. nine five ltd. is committed to donating 20% of every purchase made on their site and turning the contributions into something that supports the greater good.

Visit them at

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Turks and Caicos Establishes Nationwide Coral Reef Monitoring Program
By Katharine Yates, DEMA’s Environmental Officer

As is the case for many Caribbean islands, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) rely heavily on coral reefs, which contribute large amounts of income annually to the country’s economy through tourism, fisheries, and coastal protection. Grand Turk and Providenciales attract large numbers of visitors who travel to the TCI to scuba dive and snorkel on the extensive coral reefs. Assessing the environmental sustainability of tourism in the TCI is no easy task, and the direct impacts of the rapidly growing tourism industry on the coral reefs have not yet been monitored.

The Department of the Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government decided to partner with the Reef Check Foundation to establish a nationwide coral reef monitoring program. In September 2014, DEMA hosted workshops on the islands of Grand Turk and Providenciales to train professional and recreational SCUBA divers in coral reef monitoring methods. The Turks and Caicos Islands Governor’s Office generously funded these workshops instructed by Dr. Ruben Torres from Reef Check Dominican Republic. Through collaboration with dive operators and dive enthusiasts, surveys will be carried out at different sites on TCI coral reefs every 3-4 months. This will allow DEMA to assess the health of the reefs in different areas, and monitor changes over time, while also increasing community involvement.

Collection of this information on the reefs throughout the TCI will allow DEMA to identify any changes as they begin to take place, and inform management of the environment as a result. As much of the tourism in the TCI is driven by the maintenance of a healthy coral reef ecosystem, this information will prove critical to ensuring the future of a successful and thriving tourism industry.

As a result of these workshops, 23 residents are now certified Reef Check EcoDivers, and are able to collect important information regarding the health of the coral reefs in the region. We would like to thank Blue Water Divers, Oasis Divers and Grand Turk Diving Co. for their support and participation on Grand Turk, and Provo Turtle Divers, Beaches, SURFside Ocean Academy, Big Blue Unlimited and Crystal Seas Adventures for their support and participation in Providenciales. Without the participation of the dive community this coral reef monitoring project would not function, and we are excited to get out on the coral reefs and start collecting information.

If you are interested in getting involved with this program please contact DEMA’s Environmental Officer Katharine Hart at or 1(649)342-7729 for more information.

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Maldives Expedition Looks at Recovery from 1998 Bleaching Event

By Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, Reef Check Maldives Coordinator

In September 2014, Biosphere Expeditions, in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society, Maldives Research Centre, and Carpe Diem Maldives, carried out a very successful survey of the reefs of N Male Atoll, Maldives. They re-surveyed sites previously visited before the 1998 bleaching event to analyze marine ecosystem resilience. During the expedition, three people (one UK, two Maldivian) were trained as Reef Check EcoDiver Trainers and seven as EcoDivers.

Upon surveying the patch, channel, and outer reefs near Summer Island, they found that the patch reefs (e.g. Deh Giri) were the most significantly affected, covered by corallimorphs (Discosoma) carpeting more than 60% of the seabed. Another site, Reethi Rah, showed a significant Crown-of-Thorns starfish outbreak, which was concerning, particularly when coupled with recent disease outbreaks seen in previous surveys. Furthermore, there appeared to be more coral-eating cushion starfish and Drupella.

Outer forereef slope reefs appeared to show the greatest uniformity of good health, particularly Madi Gaa. Other more sheltered channel and patch reefs showed good coral cover and recovery from the 1998 bleaching event in shallow transects (<6m), but not for the deeper transects, most commonly at 10m. Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt, Reef Check Maldives coordinator and the lead scientist on the expedition, believes this is caused by the creation of rubble fields from the breakdown over the past 15 years of coral killed during the bleaching event; gravity is pulling the rubble down to the deeper, more sheltered waters of the reef slopes, which has been a pattern in their data for years now. These rubble-strewn areas appear to be poor surfaces for new corals to grow. Surprisingly, the surveys didn’t reveal more reefs (such as Deh Giri) that have then moved onto a different stable state that are dominated by opportunistic colonising lifeforms such as Discosoma.

In addition, the expedition found that commercial fish species were worryingly absent over these N Male reefs, and herbivorous parrotfish were also uncommon.

For more information on this expedition and its findings, you can contact Dr. Solandt

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Reef Check Indonesia EcoDiver Becomes First Ever CORAL Conservation Prize Winner
Nyoman Sugiarta (second from left) poses with the Indonesian contingency at the Coral Reef Alliance 20th Anniversary Gala

Nyoman Sugiarta, a Reef Check EcoDiver and a fisherman from Bali, Indonesia, has been selected by Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL) as the inaugural 2014 CORAL Conservation Prize winner. Serving as conservation inspiration around the world, Sugiarta was chosen for his work in protecting and monitoring coral reefs with the support of Reef Check Indonesia. He received $20,000 for his leadership and dedication on September 20, 2014 at the CORAL 20th Anniversary Gala at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, California.

With Reef Check Indonesia, Sugiarta is the leader of the marine protected area (MPA) citizen enforcement team, and has set up successful monitoring through regular beach patrols and underwater cleanups. He is dedicated to supporting fishermen and encourages more sustainable fishing practices. “The reef looks much better now than it did before we created the MPA because we stopped fishermen from neighboring villages from using cyanide poison on the reef,” says Sugiarta. “We also stopped fishermen from using bottom nets, which, as far as I know, damage the reef and the environment permanently.”

The area currently has two fish aggravating devices (FADs), designed to decrease the local fishing pressure on reef fish. The FADs, built by Sugiarta and his team, attract pelagic fish; research has found them to be very successful in providing more fishing opportunities for fishermen, while simultaneously taking pressure off near-shore reef fish populations.

Sugiarta intends to reinvest the prize money to safeguard MPA boundaries using buoys and a patrol boat, and to implement an educational awareness program for elementary schools. Additionally, he hopes to use part of his new funds to build four more FADs and continue supporting the Bondalem fishing community. Congratulations Nyoman!

You can see a short video about Nyoman here:

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