Reef Check Teams in Action
Reef Check Champion – Russ Lesser
Methods Check – New 2004 Instruction Manual
Reef Check News
|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.
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.
|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|
HELP SAVE AUSTRALIA'S CORAL REEFS!
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.
JOIN US FOR ICRS 10 REEF CHECK WORKSHOP IN OKINAWA
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.
QUIKSILVER CROSSING BRINGS REEF CHECK HOME TO AMERICA
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.
Miami, May 19-24 Toronto, August 9
Other stops without a press conference: Jacksonville, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic City, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee
|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.
|NEW INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR 2004!
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|
NEW STAFF AT RC HEADQUARTERS
Megan Wadley, Director of Outreach
Chris Knight, Director of Training
2004 BOARD MEMBERS
SANDALS JAMAICA TRAINING ISN'T LAST RESORT
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.
REEF CHECK ADDRESSES US CRTF IN WASHINGTON DC
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;
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.
NEMO VISITS REEF CHECK HAWAII