Site Spotlight – Guatemala
Reef Check Champion – Jason Auclair and Mike Segda
Reef Check News
Mark Your Calendars
|Site Spotlight- Guatemala|
The end of 2005 saw the beginning of a new Reef Check program in Guatemala, a country located in central America with reefs on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts. In late November, biologist Guillermo ?Mito? Paz, from Green Reef Institution of Belize, introduced personnel from local NGOs, government agencies, universities, as well as local fishermen and dive school staff to the Reef Check monitoring methodology. Staff from the Fundaci?n Mario Dary Rivera (FUNDARY) coordinated the workshops, held at the Biological Research Station ?Julio Obiols?, located in the Punta de Manabique Wildlife Refuge. The participants were divided into 4 training workshops? three for 30 local fishermen representing all Caribbean regions of Guatemala and the fourth for the representatives of the other sectors.
Guatemala is one of the participating countries in the ICRAN Meso-American Reef Project, funded by USAID/UNF; RC?s role in the project is to encourage the involvement of local fishermen in coral reef conservation. It is hoped that these trainings will give an incentive to this important socio-economic sector to switch to tourism-related activities. Since many Guatemalan reefs are at a depth greater than 20ft, these fishermen will need to be scuba trained in order to survey their reefs.
Overall, the first training was promising; participants are enthusiastic to form the Guatemala Reef Check team and are ready to conduct more surveys.
If you are interested in helping out with Reef Check Guatemala, contact our coordinator, Lucia M. Gutierrez
|Reef Check Champion– Jason Auclair & Mike Segda|
Reef Check has experienced a lot of growth and some great successes over the past 10 years thanks to the committed volunteers who conduct Reef Check surveys on a regular basis. It?s all about local people making a difference, and the people helping out with the new California program are no different ? meet Jason Auclair and Mike Segda. They aren?t big businessmen and they sure aren?t scientists with doctorates in marine biology. Instead, they are two of California?s hardest working scuba instructors who believe that monitoring the local rocky reefs is important enough to give up a lot of free time and effort to support the fledgling RC California program. Since the launch of the program last year, whenever help was needed, Jason and Mike have been there. Whether working as dive masters on in-water video shoots or helping out in the office with the development of Reef Check?s training programs, these two divers have been an important asset in the program?s fast start. They?ve also gotten their employers involved. Jason?s bosses at Sherwood Scuba and Cramer-Decker Industries, a world-leader in scuba diving, encouraged Jason to support the program. As a result, all Reef Check HQ scientists are safe and well equipped in the temperamental waters of California?s central coast. Rocky Stickel, Mike?s boss and owner of Scuba Haus in Santa Monica, has let Mike turn this venerable California dive shop into ?dive central? for Reef Check staffers, filling tanks and making sure that everyone who walks in the door learns about Reef Check. It is sometimes hard to find a spirit of local stewardship in a city of over 3 million people, but thanks to the hard work and commitment of Mike and Jason, the Reef Check spirit is alive and growing here in California.
|Reef Check News|
Reef Check Travels to Hawai?i For the Kelly Slater Celebrity Surf Invitational
Involving celebrities with Reef Check draws attention to the Coral Reef Crisis. In February we joined a host of Hollywood stars and some of the best surfers in the world at the Kelly Slater Celebrity Surf Invitational in Kona, Hawai?i. A surf/lifestyle event filmed for an MTV special, the event focused on surfing, marine conservation, and fun in the sun for a host of celebrities including Incubus, Jack Osbourne, G.Love, Tony Hawk and Ashlee Simpson. In addition to interacting with the guests of the event to raise their awareness about our efforts, we established the Kelly Slater Reef Check Survey Site to honor Kelly Slater for his continued support of our conservation efforts.
The environment is celebrated in many ways, such as dedicating a day (Earth Day) or an entire year to a special environmental cause. To follow this idea, Reef Check is launching Reef Check Months to annually dedicate one month to celebrate the world?s coral reefs in each hemisphere: July (Northern Hemisphere) and December (Southern Hemisphere).
Reef Check encourages everyone to participate, even if you aren?t a team member ? hold a fundraiser, educate your peers about coral reefs, talk to your dive shops, or become a Reef Check member. Help us save coral reefs worldwide!
Reef Check?s annual fundraiser will take place at a scenic Beverly Hills estate and will honor Jean-Michel Cousteau for his lifetime achievements in marine conservation. We will also be honoring ?Mermaids of the Reef,? singer/ actress Barbi Benton and two-time Oscar nominated songwriter Carol Connors. The three honorees are pictured here diving in Fiji. Come rub shoulders with Hollywood stars and musical legends, enjoy delicious food and drink, and bid on fabulous silent and live auction items. All proceeds will go to benefit Reef Check's worldwide programs.
Dr. Clive Wilkinson Speaks To RC Supporters
Dr. Clive Wilkinson, Coordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network met with Reef Check supporters and community members in February to discuss the health of reef ecosystems worldwide and the impact of the recent tsunami. Before a packed crowd at The Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California, Dr. Wilkinson started the first leg of his cross-country tour promoting the release of GCRMN?s report ?Status of Coral Reefs in Tsunami Affected Countries.? Results of post-event surveys, compiled in partnership with regional Reef Check teams, showed the majority of reefs in the Indian Ocean region escaped serious damage with major exceptions being reported in Indonesia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Tempering the results with optimism, Dr. Wilkinson reported that with effective management, the majority of damaged reefs can all recover in the next 5-10 years. The major threat to all reefs, as he pointed out, remains human activities.
New Underwater Hawai?i Field Guides On Sale!
Reef Check Hawai?i field guides have arrived and are ready to purchase! Following the success of our Atlantic/Caribbean and Indo-Pacific guides, we have put together a brand new guide featuring Hawai?i indicator fish and invertebrates. Each 8-page underwater guide features full-color photos of all Reef Check Hawai?i indicator species, substrate categories and survey techniques and is made with professionally-bound, waterproof plastic for durability. Visit our website to place your order today.
Reef Check Releases Aceh Report
Our last issue covered the multinational expedition to Aceh Province in Indonesia to monitor the effect of the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami on coral reefs. The final report was published in January and can be downloaded off our website.
The results of the underwater surveys indicated that relatively minor physical damage to coral reefs was caused by the tsunami as compared with the well-documented devastation experienced on land. Tsunami damage recorded included overturned corals and swathes of broken corals where large tree branches and tree trunks had been washed across the reef as the waves receded.
The earthquakes and tsunami have left the Acehenese more dependent than ever on their marine resources for survival. There is now an opportunity to invest in a long-term strategy to rehabilitate the marine resources of Aceh through education, coastal management, regular monitoring and the establishment and maintenance of marine protected areas.
As most of you know, the end of 2005 and start of 2006 brought a lot of swell activity to California?s coast. While the waves were great for surfing, the diving conditions were less than ideal. Fortunately, we had plenty to do here in the office busily preparing for the upcoming trainings while we waited for diving conditions to improve. We have just completed our comprehensive training curriculum and course materials that will not only teach you how to accurately complete Reef Check California surveys, but will provide you with an introduction to the physical and biological processes that drive California?s extraordinary underwater environment. Participants who complete the training course will be eligible to submit data to our California database and will be issued a Reef Check California specialty certification card.
Due to the overwhelming response to our initial trainings, we will be scheduling additional trainings to be held in the fall and will begin work on our Training of Trainers program to increase the number of accredited instructors. While we do not yet have the capacity to train all the interested divers in California, we are starting a new campaign that all divers can participate in.
This spring will mark the start of our ?1,000 Diver? Campaign. With the slogan that ?one thousand divers can make a difference? this membership campaign aims to unite California?s divers under the common objectives of science and sound management of our shared coastal resources. Although divers tend to fall into different categories (hunters, photographers, recreational, etc.) we all must unite to protect our rocky reefs that we so passionately enjoy.
|Mark Your Calendars|
|Reef Check Ecoexpeditions
Thailand Earthwatch Expeditions
Bangkok, Phuket or Trat, Thailand
Dates: March 2006 to November 2006
Duration: 10 days
Share of Cost: $2595Snorkel and dive Thailand?s amazing coral reefs, 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, as well as threats posed by global warming and coral diseases. Dr. Georg Heiss and Kim Obermeyer, Reef Check coordinators, are joining forces with Earthwatch to do baseline assessments of Thailand?s reefs and to set up a long-term monitoring program.
Click here for more information about the Thailand EcoExpedition and how to sign up.
Maldives RC EcoExpedition
Aquanaut Tauchreisen will donate 10% of the earnings to Reef Check.
Red Sea RC EcoExpedition
Sharm el Sheikh: Reef Check Safari
Experience the Red Sea in the best way possible ? a one-week liveaboard safari on Ghazala I. You will be accompanied by marine biologists, who will introduce you to the Reef Check survey protocol. At the end of each day, the Reef Check biologist will comment on the results of the dives and give a closer look into the complexity of coral reefs. The famous dive-sites in Ras Mohammed and Tiran are part of the itinerary.
Sinai Divers will donate 10% of the earnings to Reef Check.
Celebrate Earth Day with Reef Check in California
Concert at Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach: April 22, 11am-4pm
Kona Classic Underwater Photography Contest: May 13-21, 2006: Kona, Hawai?i
|Reef Check Teams in Action|
RC Malaysia Formally Meets at the International Media and Environment Summit in Kuching, Sarawak
Using the International Media and Environment Summit as a backdrop, RC coordinator Stuart Green, representing RC Philippines and Indonesia and also acting as chair of the marine session, met with Reef Check Malaysia stakeholders for a strategic planning workshop to discuss the future of the country?s program.
The meeting was very positive, with key outputs including a discussion on the formalizing of RC Malaysia under the Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences (MSMS)– more specifically under the Coral Reef Ecosystem Support Team (CREST) in partnership with the Marine Special Interest Group of the Malaysian Nature Society. The plan is to work towards a number of goals including: a series of trainings with the possibility of networking with the Philippines and Indonesia programs, a regional meeting celebrating a decade of Reef Check in the world, and the development of the RC EcoAction certification system for trained divers. Tioman Dive Center will become an approved RC training center.