Reef Check Teams in Action
– Fiji
– Indonesia
– Cocos Keeling
– Japan

Spotlight on Reef Check Site  – Hong Kong

Mark Your Calendars
RC Australia Fundraiser
– ICRS 10 Reef Check Workshop
– Quiksilver Crossing Brings Reef Check Home to America
– Reef Rescue 2004

Reef Check Champion – Russ Lesser

Methods Check – New 2004 Instruction Manual

Reef Check News
– New Staff Members
– 2004 Board Members
– Passing Of Ondo Amores
– Sandals Jamaica Training Isn't Last Resort
– Reef Check Addresses US CRTF in Washington DC
– Nemo Visits RC Hawaii
– Reef Check Website Relaunched
– Get your data in!
– Send us your updates

Coral Reefs in the News
– Shifting Baselines
– Dive In To Earth Day 2004
– World Ocean Day

Reef Check Teams in Action
Taveuni teams on the grow
Submitted by Helen Sykes

Garden Island Resort in Taveuni, Fiji Islands, lies ten minutes from the Somosomo Straits, a of prime dive region especially famous for soft corals and abundant fish life. Staff at Aquatrek Taveuni have been trained in Reef Check techniques since January 2002, and take an active part in annual surveys of the reef system.

In January 2004, training in Reef Check techniques for new staff and retraining for old staff took place, and six sites were surveyed. Training was conducted by Helen Sykes, one of two Fiji Reef Check Coordinators. The reefs surveyed are popular dive sites collectively known as the Rainbow Reef, between the islands of Vanua Levu and Taveuni. Three sites (the Great White Wall, Blue Ribbon Eel Reef and Sem?s Point) have been annually surveyed since 2002. Three new sites (Small White Wall, The Corner and Jerry?s Jelly) were surveyed on this occasion, and will be regularly monitored from now on. Taken together, these sites will give a good representation of reef health in the entire area. Although a cyclone passed through the area in January 2003, the team found that the reef?s soft coral and fish population appeared unchanged, and new hard corals were seen to be growing swiftly on corals broken by the storm.

Training local dive staff to conduct surveys empowers them to teach others, and gives the Fijian people a strong feeling of stewardship for their own reefs. Community conservation programmes are growing in Taveuni, and RC intends to expand these surveys into local areas where there is interest in marine protection and conservation. For more information on RC Fiji, contact Helen Sykes. You can find out more about Aquatrek Taveuni by email or by logging onto their website. Click here to see Helen's full report.

Rare Megamouth Shark found by RC Team
Submitted by Ton Egbers & Marjan van der Burg

On Saturday March 13, just before noon, an important scientific discovery was made at Gapang Beach, Pulau Weh, Sumatra, home of Reef Check's Lumba Lumba Diving Centre. The smallest Megamouth Shark ever recorded was found by Syukur, a local neighbor of Lumba Lumba, in the intertidal zone. Unfortunately the shark had already died, there was no sign of any decay of the fish's body. The cause of death is unknown.

The extremely rare Megamouth Shark (Megachasma pelagios) was first recorded in 1976, and has been reported 20 times since, making this the 21st reported sighting ever. This specimen of the species is the smallest found so far, the second Megamouth reported in Indonesia, and Indonesia's first specimen available for further research (the first swam away).

While Ton & Marjan were busy getting advice from all over the world regarding the specimen and its further preservation, they also made sure the specimen was temporarily preserved in ice and deep frozen thereafter, before it was well prepared, packed and finally transported from their remote location to Jakarta on April 1st. Within 14 hours from leaving the freezer in Gapang, it was in a freezer again in Jakarta, still solid as a rock. Right now “Memo Jr” – as some have started nicknaming this cartoon faced and undoubtedly young shark specimen – is still in Jakarta, at the Research Centre for Oceanology of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences (LIPI), which is planning further research, in conjunction with CSIRO (Australia). For more information and updates, check out the Lumba Lumba Dive Centre website.

RC Cocos Keeling coordinator, Robert Thorn, sent in this photo of Prison Island. RC Executive Director, Gregor Hodgson has proposed this site as the location for a new RC Headquarters.

Upon completion of their annual survey of Sakuraguchi, Yasuaki Miyamoto's team celebrated with the all important Reef Check party. Yasuaki is organizing the RC Workshop following ICRS 10 in Okinawa (see story below).

Spotlight on Reef Check Site- Hong Kong
Submitted by RC Hong Kong Coordinator, Keith Kei

Active since its start in 1997, RC Hong Kong reached new heights in 2003. Last year saw a record number of over 320 volunteers surveying a record 32 sites. The 3-month exercise starting June 28, 2003 covered the best coral growing sites known in the eastern part of Hong Kong waters extending from Ping Chau in the north to Ninepin Groups in the south.

In collaboration with Reef Check, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has coordinated annual surveys of corals in Hong Kong since 2000. AFCD has put in place a series of measures and programs to protect and conserve the coral communities in Hong Kong. They have organized a range of educational and publicity activities including public lectures, seminars and exhibitions to enhance public understanding of the importance of protecting the marine environment and coral communities. A book entitled “Hong Kong Reef-building Corals” was also published in mid-2003.

To protect coral communities from anchor damage, mooring and marker buoys have been installed in marine parks where recreation pressure is high. They also installed four marker buoys at Ung Kong Wan to mark off areas with high coral coverage and advise boat operators to avoid anchoring within the marked area. The initial results indicate that damage to corals caused by boating activities has been significantly reduced.

A leaflet teaching divers and snorkellers the best practices in visiting coral sites was published and distributed through diving clubs. Hong Kong scientists have just completed a study to verify and update all hard corals recorded in our local waters. A total of 84 hard coral species, from 28 genera of 12 families were confirmed. A coral field guide is under preparation and will soon be uploaded to the AFCD website.

Hong Kong government has designated four marine parks and one marine reserve for the conservation of marine environment.

In 2004, RC Hong Kong Coordinator, Keith Kei expects over 30 survey teams and even better results. For more information, including their 2003 results, check out the RC HK website.

Mark Your Calendars


Reef Check Australia needs your help! You can participate in the establishment of an Australia-wide Reef Check network. Reef Check Australia has begun to build a network of volunteer teams of recreational divers who regularly monitor the health of Australia?s coral reefs. To achieve its aims RC Australia collaborates with businesses, universities and community groups because the participation of industries that are reliant on healthy reefs is crucial to effective and sustainable coral reef management.

With the assistance of Quiksilver, a major sponsor of Reef Check, RC Australia is holding a fundraising event at the Sydney IMAX theatre at 6pm on Friday June 18th 2004.

MacGillivray Freeman?s newest IMAX? film, Coral Reef Adventure, will be shown, followed by an auction of coral reef artwork donated by Ron Steven and Richard Vevers, photography by Michael Aw, Quiksilver memorabilia signed by Kelly Slater and more. If you are interested in helping to sponsor RC Australia, to donate an item for auction or think you can help in another way, please contact RC Australia Coordinator Jos Hill

Coral Network and Reef Check are planning to hold a training workshop for coral reef monitoring on the main island of Okinawa, Japan, following the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium held June 28 ? July 2, 2004. The workshop will introduce two types of simple monitoring methods, Spot Check and Reef Check, to participants. 

Workshop I, ?Spot Check Workshop?, will focus on the Spot Check method which is expected to be employed as a standard coral reef monitoring method for Monitoring Site 1000 by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan.  The workshop is held on July 3 and consists of lectures and training by snorkel.

Workshop II, ?Reef Check/SocMon Workshop?, will focus on the Reef Check method, which is the standard method employed by Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)/Reef Check. It will also focus on Socio Economic Monitoring.. The workshop, held over four days from July 4 through 7, will consist of lectures and training by snorkeling and scuba diving.

For more details, including a schedule and application form, check out the Reef Check website.


The Quiksilver Crossing is a voyage of surfing discovery on board the surf exploration vessel, the Indies Trader. The boat left Papua New Guinea in March 1999 and is currently exploring the Caribbean. An RC Scientist is on board to carry out surveys and educate surfers and residents of coastal communities about coral reefs.

Now the Crossing is coming to North America on its first ever P.R. tour.  At each stop, there will be press conferences, boat tours, retail tours, and other special events.  Plan to stop by and visit the boat, the surf stars and RC staff. For details of the Crossing's schedule in your area, email Megan.

The Quiksilver Crossing will be at the following locations:

Miami, May 19-24                             Toronto, August 9
Cocoa Beach, May 28-31                  Chicago, August 25-31
Virginia Beach, May 21-25                 St. Louis, September 7-13
New York City, July 4-9                     New Orleans for Halloween
Boston, July 24-29

Other stops without a press conference: Jacksonville, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic City, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee

Reef Check's annual fundraiser, Reef Rescue, is scheduled for September 30, 2004 at the Victorian in Santa Monica, California.  This year, we will honor Hollywood producer Gale Anne Hurd (Armageddon, Terminator, Alien) for her incredible support of marine conservation and Reef Check.  Other highlights include a VIP pre-party with a special guest, live auction with celebrity auctioneer John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings), and the launch of the new Garden Botanika fragrance Reef with a percentage of sales to benefit Reef Check.  For more information, email Megan. Keep checking our website for details.

Reef Check Champion
This month we are highlighting Russ Lesser, President of Body Glove.  If you know a Reef Check Champion you feel should be highlighted, please email a brief description of his/her contribution as well as a photo to RC Headquarters

Body Glove Donates Wetsuits to Reef Check Team

Russ Lesser, the President of Body Glove, arranged for a generous donation of wetsuits to RC Cebu, Philippines. The team is coordinated by Mike and Nora Ross of the Coastal Dynamics Foundation who were thrilled to accept the top-of-the-line gear to reward their volunteer divers.

Reef Check Cebu was established in 1998 and, today, is successfully addressing the problems facing Cebu's reefs by involving key stakeholders including local resorts, dive operators, dive instructors, and other concerned divers in monitoring and management projects. For more information on RC Philippines, contact Mike Ross.

Body Glove was created in the early 1950s by Bob and Bill Miestrell in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Now, Body Glove is one of the 50 most recognizable brands in the nation with products ranging from sunglasses to snorkel gear. Many of the best pro surfers in the United States are members of the Body Glove Team.

Russ Lesser is also serving as Co-Chair for our annual Reef Rescue fundraiser in September.

Methods Check
New Reef Check instructional materials are now available! Check out the Reef Check website for the 2004 instruction manual and data sheets. The 2004 manual includes color photos of all indicator organisms for each of the 5 regions Reef Check covers. Major changes to the data sheets include the re-introduction of the “Location method, “Temperature,” and “Orientation of transect” fields.

Reef Check has also developed underwater survey guides to serve as a reminder of the RC protocol while surveying. The guides, covering the Indo-Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean regions, include full color photos of all indicator organisms and substrate categories, descriptions and photos of damage and diseases to look out for, and an overview of the transect line. These cards will be available soon.

Reef Check News

RC Headquarters recently said goodbye to two of our staff, Kelly McGee and Ashley Spencer. Kelly has gone on to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, California. Ashley is looking forward to working with RC Hawaii upon settling in Oahu for graduate school. Reef Check has hired two new staff members to help with operations.

Megan Wadley, Director of Outreach
Megan graduated from the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma with a BA in Arts Management.  She studied performing and visual arts as well as business with a particular focus in non-profit executive work.  Before beginning her career in the non-profit world, Megan worked in corporate advertising for CITGO Petroleum Corporation.  She then served as the gallery curator for the charitable Diorama Arts Centre in London, England.  In 2003, she moved back to the United States where she held the position of Executive Director at VSA arts of Missouri
.  Megan?s combined experience in marketing, fundraising, and non-profit executive level management are perfect for her work on corporate partnerships, celebrity endorsements, public relations, and special event planning. To contact Megan, click here.

Chris Knight, Director of Training           
An award-winning dive industry professional, Chris is a 1990 graduate of UCLA with a degree in political science.  He has extensive experience with the recreational and scientific diving community having worked in marketing and product management for the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI).  In addition, Chris serves on the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructors Association, the oldest training agency in diving. He has served as a research diver with the Catalina Island Conservancy and holds multiple diving, training, and first aid certifications.  He is currently an active instructor with NAUI, PADI, and Los Angeles County
. To contact Chris about expeditions and dive events click here.




Honorary Chair: Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor

Randy Hild, Quiksilver

Scott Campbell, Smith Barney

Gale Anne Hurd, Valhalla Productions

Eric Cohen, Sea Dwelling Creatures

Will Knox, Independent Consultant

Christeon J. Costanzo, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Gilbert Leistner, CEO of Leistner Group LLC

Valerie Gould, Environmentalist

Charlotte Lesser, Reef Rescue

Lori Hall, CSM Communications

Greg MacGillivray, MacGillivray Freeman Films

Gregor Hodgson, Executive Director RC

Tod Mesirow, Way Fun Productions

Gary L. Justice, Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher

Nancy Miller, Reef Rescue

Russ Lesser, Body Glove

Richard Murphy, Ocean Futures

Jim Miller, Reef Rescue

Joel Reynolds, Natural Resources Defense Council

Sarah Preisler, Syrup Design

James Sall, Bulletproof Entertainment

Craig Shuman, Heal the Bay

Jerry Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific

Andrew Wiens, Scuba Diving Magazine

Kristin Valette, PADI Project AWARE


Lynette Widmeyer, Rock and Waterscape

Susan Wiens, Reef Rescue

David Williams, Independent Consultant

Reef Check Headquarters would like to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of Ondo Amores. Ondo, a strong supporter of RC Philippines, died of natural causes at the age of 63 following a recent dive. The proposed Baring Marine Protected Area, where the event happened, will be named after him in his honor. Ondo?s two brothers, Boy and Mario, continue to be strong Reef Check supporters.



By Dulcie Linton,
Caribbean Coastal Data Centre (CCDC)

The Jamaica Coral Reef Monitoring Network (JCRMN) partnered with Reef Check and Sandals International to conduct a training workshop at Beaches Boscobel, Oracabessa, St. Mary, Jamaica, February 7-9, 2004. Malden Miller, the Project Manager for the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) Project, facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme – Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) and Noylis Amair, Director of Watersports for Sandals and Beaches Resorts, coordinated the workshop, with George Warner and Peter Edwards of the Centre for Marine Sciences, UWI as the team scientists. Fifteen water sports managers representing hotels from the local Sandals International chain were trained and certified in the Reef Check method of coral reef monitoring.

Trainers were all JCRMN members representing participating organizations: the Centre for Marine Sciences and the University Sub-Aqua Club (USAC) at the University of the West Indies, the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) Project and the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Caribbean Coastal Area Management (CCAM) Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

After the classroom sessions led by Malden Miller, a ?dry run? was done to clarify any misconceptions. Later in the afternoon, training in actual data collection was done under the supervision of the JCRMN trainers. The training also featured a talk by Krishna Desai, Manager of the Coastal Zone Branch of NEPA on the Blue Flag Certification Program to which Sandals International was subscribing and which now requires Reef Check monitoring of reef locations within 500 m of the shoreline. Afterwards the trainees collected data at Boscobel West (Channel Edge). These data will be analyzed and used to report on the status of the reefs at this site. The workshop has generated great enthusiasm among the trainees who are now looking forward to collecting data from their respective locations. For more information on RC Jamaica, contact Malden Miller. Click here to read the full report.

By Bill Kiene

On February 24 and 25th, Reef Check's Director for Conservation Science, Dr. Bill Kiene, addressed the US Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Washington DC. Held at the US Department of Commerce, the meeting is a gathering of Government agencies and NGOs that report on the activities of Task Force members from across the government.

The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (CRTF) was established  in June 1998 through a Presidential Executive Order to lead the U.S. response to the global crisis faced by coral reefs. The CRTF is responsible for developing and implementing coordinated efforts by the US Government to:

– Map and monitor U.S. coral reefs;
– Research the causes and solutions to coral reef
– Reduce and mitigate coral reef degradation from
  pollution, overfishing and other causes;
– Implement strategies to promote conservation and
  sustainable use of coral reefs internationally.

On the first day of the meeting, Bill presented an overview of the value of coral reef monitoring data collected by volunteers, and how Reef Check has become a strong global force in coral reef conservation through the hard work of all its volunteer teams.  Bill is part of the CRTF's Education and Outreach working group, which organized this first session of the meeting. On the second day, during the time set aside for public comments, Bill suggested that both local communities and scientists be brought into the CRTF process in order to increase its effectiveness.  He noted that Reef Check provides a sound mechanism for doing both.

To find out more about the workings of the CRTF or to read Bill's presentation, visit the CRTF website.

Alexander Gould, the child actor who is t