Site Spotlight  – Guatemala

Reef Check Champion – Jason Auclair and Mike Segda

Reef Check News
– Reef Check Travels to Hawai'i For Kelly Slater Celebrity Surf Invitational
– Celebrate Reef Check Month This July and December!
– Join Us in Beverly Hills For Reef Rescue 2006, June 11th 2006
– Dr. Clive Wilkinson Speaks To RC Supporters
– New Underwater Hawai'i Field Guides On Sale!
– Reef Check Releases Aceh Report

California Corner

Mark Your Calendars
– EcoExpeditions: Thailand, Maldives, and the Red Sea
– Celebrate Earth Day With Reef Check in California
– Kona Classic Underwater Photography Contest

Reef Check Teams in Action
– RC Malaysia Formally Meets at the International Media and Environment Summit in Kuching, Sarawak

– Plans For RC Kuwait Moving Forward
– INCO Sets Priorities For Reefs of the Persian Gulf

– The Amadis Project Completes Its Pacific Leg
– RC Dominican Republic Helps Government Combat the Illegal Marine Aquarium Trade

Coral Reefs in the News
– Special Report: Reef Check Philippines and Indonesia Partner in the Marine Aquarium Market Transformation Initiative (MAMTI)

What You Can Do To Help Coral Reefs

Support Reef Check

Site Spotlight- Guatemala


Group of participants show off their Reef Check field guides
Photo: Mito Paz

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.

Mito Paz, RC Belize coordinator, presents a happy graduate with his Reef Check certificate! Photo: Mito Paz

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

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  

 Photo: Catherine Landa

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.  

Kelly Slater awards Ashlee Simpson and Jack Osbourne as the top celebrity surfers in the competition
Photo: Erik Aeder

Accompanied by a pod of singing humpback whales, Reef Check staff and volunteer Catherine Landa (RC Hawai?i) performed the first annual survey of this site.  We wish to thank Kelly Slater, Quiksilver, Lenore Marusak (RC Board Member) and Terry Hardy for providing us with this wonderful opportunity.

Be sure to check the MTV listings for air dates or visit the KSI website.


Plan Ahead: Celebrate Reef Check Month This July and December 2006!

Photo: Lumba Lumba Dive Centre

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).
While you are welcome to plan activities any time of the year, Reef Check Month is a way to focus attention on Reef Check and coral reef conservation. We are asking teams to consider special events to celebrate their Reef Check Month:

  • Conduct a survey

  • Monitor a new reef

  • Train new divers in the Reef Check protocol

  • Visit a local school or hold a public forum

  • Contact local TV stations and media outlets to encourage the diffusion of coral reef related news and documentaries

  • Organize outreach events to promote Reef Check and coral reef conservation

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!

Join Us In Beverly Hills For Reef Rescue 2006 June 11th, 3-7pm

Carol Connors, Jean-Michel Cousteau and Barbi Benton
David Fleetham

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. 
For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here


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. 

No tsunami damage was observed at more than half of the reefs surveyed and there were still large areas of intact, living coral reef nearby. These areas may act as an important source of larvae for re-colonization of the damaged reefs. However, a low density of coral recruits was observed, which indicates that recovery is proceeding slowly. 

The earthquake damage to coral reefs was more severe than that caused by the tsunami.
On land, the earthquakes and tsunami caused slope failures and removed vegetation facilitating increased erosion, sediment transport, and discharge during rainy periods. A low abundance and small mean size of the ten primary food fish families in Aceh was recorded suggesting that these stocks are overfished. Overfishing can lead to an imbalanced ecosystem in which the lack of herbivorous fish allows fleshy algae to overgrow corals and dominate the coral reef.
The findings from this study suggest that sedimentation (exacerbated by the tsunami), overfishing, and the use of destructive fishing methods may represent a greater threat to Aceh?s reef ecosystems than the immediate impacts of the earthquakes and tsunami.   

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.

California Corner
Click here to contribute to our 1,000 Diver Campaign!
Photo: Howard Hall Productions

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: $2595

Snorkel 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

 The Hammerhead II

Live on board the “Hammerhead II”
Date: May 2-10, 2006 
Click here for more info or email Aquanaut Tauchreisen

Aquanaut Tauchreisen will donate 10% of the earnings to Reef Check.

Red Sea RC EcoExpedition

Sharm el Sheikh: Reef Check Safari
Date: May 11-18, 2006

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.

For more information, contact Sinai Divers or visit their website
Tel: +20-(0)69-3600697

Celebrate Earth Day with Reef Check in California

Santa Monica Promenade: April 15th, all day
If you live in Southern California, you'll want to come to Santa Monica's famous 3rd Street Promenade for this major annual event: dozens of local and international environmental groups will have tables and displays along the pedestrian-friendly 3 block stretch.

Concert at Polliwog Park, Manhattan Beach: April 22, 11am-4pm
VOICE presents the 15th annual Earth Day event in Manhattan Beach. Dozens of environmental groups, including Reef Check, will have tables and displays at this family fun festival. 

Kona Classic Underwater Photography Contest: May 13-21, 2006: Kona, Hawai?i

Join Reef Check, Body Glove, Sport Diver and the PADI Diving Society, along with some of the world's most famous underwater photographers for the Kona Classic. Not only is the week-long Kona Classic a photography competition, it also celebrates the diving lifestyle and community along with environmental awareness. This renowned event gives underwater photographers and videographers opportunities to dive, shoot, and learn with image-makers such as Eric Cheng, David Fleetham, and Marty Snyderman.  In addition to daily photo seminars and expert advice, Reef Check will be surveying local reefs and educating participants about the importance of healthy coral ecosystems.  Great prizes will be given away for various categories, including the special Reef Check Best Indicator Species Shot. The winner will go home with a brand new Sherwood Axis buoyancy compensator, courtesy of Cramer Decker industries. Please come out and join us for this great event.  For more information, click here.

Reef Check Teams in Action

RC Malaysia Formally Meets at the International Media and Environment Summit in Kuching, Sarawak
By Stuart Green

Stuart Green (right) enjoying the fruits of the sea through a traditional Malaysian Steamboat with his peers.

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. 

Participants in the two-day meeting included RC Malaysia Coordinator Badrul Huzaimi Tajuddin, Saras Suresh Kumar and Serina Effendy of Malaysia Nature Society (MNS), MNS Board members Tony & Rebecca Sebastian, as well as Siew Yeen, owner of Tioman Dive Center

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.