Site Spotlight – Australia

Reef Check Champion – Mara New

Reef Check News
–  Reef Check Adventures Book For Kids Now Available
– Jean-Michel Cousteau, Carol Connors, and Barbi Benton Recipients of Top Honors at Reef Rescue 2006 in Beverly Hills, June 11th
– Special Event Marks Official Launch of Reef Check Dominican Republic
– Reef Check Adds Four to the Board
– Thank You BBQ For Volunteers
– Reef Check at the Kona Classic 2006

California Corner

Mark Your Calendars
– September 26, 2006: Inhabitants- A Special Las Vegas Show to Benefit the Reef Check Foundation
– October 12-14, 2006: Reef Check EcoAction Workshop
– December 11, 2006: Reef Check Hawai'i's Luau With the Stars
– January 5-9, 2007: CoralWatch “Focus on Corals” Workshop

Reef Check Teams in Action
– Reef Check French Polynesia

– First Reef Check Survey in Bangladesh
– Reef Check Indonesia: The Sea is My Life

– Kosrae 10th Annual Monitoring Project

Coral Reefs in the News
– Elkhorn and Staghorn Corals: New Threatened Species Under the Endangered Species Act
– A Presidential Decision: The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument

Support Reef Check

Site Spotlight- Australia

RC Australia?s Loren Hartley, Jos Hill and Zoe Andrews after receiving their award

Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, the world?s largest coral reef, stretching over 2300 km along the northeast coast of the country. Reef Check Australia is headquartered in Townsville and led by Executive Director Jos Hill. Every year, teams of divers survey dozens of reefs. For many of these sites there are data to provide a year-by-year picture of the health of the reef. 
As an award for their hard work, Reef Check Australia recently received the Townsville City Council's Community Group Award for Environmental Excellence and Sustainability 2006 by Deputy Mayor Ann Burnell at the Townsville EcoFiesta celebration. The awards recognize Townsville community members and groups for their efforts in environment protection, conservation and sustainable management and are designed to motivate the community to care for their environment.

The award has added to what has been a breakthrough year for Reef Check Australia. Not only did they recently become an official environmental charity (donations are now tax deductible and can be made through their website,, they also came up with a unique fundraising idea: Townville?s beer lovers can now help save reefs by diving into a new brew called Beeramundi.

The new beer was named as part of a competition held in partnership between Reef Check Australia and the Townsville Brewing Company. Beeramundi was launched on April 21st at the Brewery in Flinders Mall, Townsville. Reef Check Australia?s Marketing and Communications Manager, Roger Beeden, said that the competition was designed to raise community awareness of the threats to our coral reefs. ?We asked people to come up with a name, and a slogan for the beer, and an educational concept that would help make reef conservation into a conversation topic,? Mr. Beeden said. ?We were very pleased to get more than 100 entries, and some really great ideas,? he added. 

The name ?Beeramundi? was the brainchild of Eion Howe. The judges were particularly impressed with his entry as it relates to two fish, the highly prized estuarine Barramundi and the protected Barramundi Cod found on the reef, which also is a Reef Check indicator organism for the Indo-Pacific. The artwork for the beer shows a Barramundi Cod peering out of the label. A team effort by Dean Miller, Alana Grech and James Moloney was responsible for the slogan ?Saving the reef one beer at a time.? Johnston Davidson was the winner of the educational concept part of the competition with his idea to feature a reef quiz on beer coasters, with questions on one side and answers on the other. Beer and reef enthusiasts can now support Reef Check simply by enjoying a Beeramundi from Townsville?s own microbrewery; financial support will come in the form of a percentage profit donation from each Beeramundi sold.

If you cannot make it to Townsville but would like to support Reef Check Australia and Beeramundi, you can do so by purchasing Beeramundi clothing and gift items through profits will directly support the Reef Check Australia volunteer network. If you like what you see then send your friends a link or perhaps buy them a Reef Check Australia gift…it's all for a good cause. You can find Reef Check Beeramundi goodies at:
For more information about Reef Check Australia, contact or visit

Reef Check Champion– Mara New

Mara New at Reef Rescue 2006
Photo: Glen Lipton

Over the past two years, Mara New has been an invaluable asset to Reef Check. First introduced to Reef Check by her good friend Carol Connors, Mara?s support of our efforts recently led her to a spot on our Board of Directors. Her love of the ocean first started in Italy, where she spent three months of every summer at the beach.

Born in Milan and hailing from the Beltrami House of Fashion that was launched in the early 1900s, Mara?s family began as tailors and shoemakers and evolved into clothing designers and manufacturers in the early 1920s. Mara?s passion for clothes had her start the Golden Needle Awards in 2004 to recognize and award emerging designers.

From Italy, Mara moved to Australia where she graduated in Architecture and studied acting and dance, which led to a number of appearances in shows and on television during her stay there. Now based in Los Angeles, Mara is still acting and performing live theatre, doing 3 to 4 plays a year with her favorite theater, ?Secret Rose? in the NOHO Arts District. 
Always believing that ?Giving is receiving,? Mara stays very active with several charities. She also is an accomplished painter having won several European competitions. Mara and her husband of 20 years, Ron, are fine art collectors and several of their paintings have been loaned and displayed in different museums throughout the country.

Mara dreams to start a museum dedicated to Art Nouveau, to open her own theatre in Hollywood, and to spend more time in their country home in Tuscany.

Currently she is helping Reef Check prepare for our next event, the Inhabitants dance show in Las Vegas on September 26. 

Reef Check News

“Reef Check adventures” book for kids now available!  

In this exciting and challenging activity book, Reef Check brings to children ages 7-12 the dazzling and diverse coral reefs of the world. With over 40 pages of engaging activities and fun factoids, children will discover the mysterious and magical undersea world of color and light. Readers will also be exposed to the importance of conservation and what they can do to insure the survival of these ecological wonders. This book promises hours of fun and enjoyment with educational lessons to last a lifetime.

Each copy is $14.95 (tax and shipping included), buy yours today! Books can be ordered through our website at



Jean-Michel Cousteau, Carol Connors, and Barbi Benton Recipients of Top Honors At Reef Rescue 2006 in Beverly Hills, June 11th  
Photos: Glen Lipton

Reef Check once again teamed up with top celebrities for our 4th annual Reef Rescue 2006 fundraiser on Sunday, June 11, at the private estate of actress Suzan Hughes in Beverly Hills.

Mara New, Barbi Benton, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Carol Connors, and Cheryl Holdridge Post; Suzan Hughes, Mara New and Barbi Benton

Spearheading Reef Rescue 2006 as Event Chair was Beverly Hills philanthropist, environmentalist and art collector, Mara New. Major sponsors included Diageo, Body Glove, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Guests entered the event through a magnificent coral reef arch constructed by world-renowned aquarium designer David Manwarren, and viewed a healthy reef system up-close and personal via a custom-built 100-gallon salt-water aquarium. 

This year?s gala MC?d by actor Ron Masak, honored the legendary Jean-Michel Cousteau (Founder and President of Ocean Futures Society, son of the late Jacques Yves Cousteau) with the ?Poseidon Award? for his lifetime achievements in marine conservation.
 Sharing the honoree spotlight were two-time Oscar nominated songwriter Carol Connors along with actress and singer Barbi Benton, who both received the “Mermaids of the Reef Award? for their dedicated support and advocacy of reef conservation. 

The attendees of the event included Kelly Slater, Kelly Hu, David Chokachi, Billy Davis Jr., Marilyn McCoo, Cheryl Holdridge Post, Russ and Charlotte Lesser, Deanna Lund, Kate Linder, Merrie Lynn Ross, Leyla Milani, Kimberly Burke, Erin Cahill, Barbara Morrison, Tahitian Pearl Ambassador Nancy Morgan, and many more. 

        Kelly Slater with RC?s Tekau Frere and Erin Benke                David Chokachi, Gregor Hodgson and Kelly Hu

Barbi Benton performed a hula with music by Hawaiian artist Keali?i Reichel, and Carol Connors entertained the crowd with a special performance of her legendary hit, ?To Know Him is to Love Him?.

David Manwarren?s beautiful coral reef arch served as the entrance to the party

The attendees bid on a wide variety of silent and live auction items, including fabulous travel opportunities, rare memorabilia and collectibles, fine jewelry, and scores of desirable items from around the worldAlso showcased were unique items from the private collection of Ronald and Mara New, many of which have graced the halls of top museums.   

The event also carried out one of RC?s top mission goals: education and awareness. Surf champion Kelly Slater reminded the attendees of the benefits of maintaining the reefs for the surf community, and Jean-Michel Cousteau stressed the necessity of preserving the world?s most precious treasures in a passionate speech in which he pleaded to the crowd that, ?When you leave today you must continue to help save our oceans.? Actress Kelly Hu introduced a new way of supporting Reef Check: the Honolulu Marathon in December to benefit Reef Check Hawai?i, for which she has been ?running her butt off? as she trains with legendary Olympian, Carl Lewis.

Suzan Hughes, Mara New and Barbi Benton

The success of the event was made possible through the generous donations from sponsors, individuals, as well as the hard work and commitment of volunteers who helped us put this event together. Reef Check would like to thank them for helping us carry on with our core mission, ?Saving Reefs Worldwide!?

Video of the event can be accessed at, and photos can be purchased at (15% of each purchase will benefit Reef Check; Username: reef rescue 2006; password: 10878). For more information about future Reef Check events, check out our website:




Special Event Marks Official Launch of Reef Check Dominican Republic

On June 17th, the beautiful facilities of the Yacht Club at La Marina Casa de Campo hosted the official launch of the Reef Check Foundation in the Dominican Republic. The successful evening saw the attendance of many local media and representatives of the national press.

Kelly Hu and RC Dominican Republic Director Ruben Torres on the boat to Catalina Island

A select group of invited guests accompanied Guest of Honor, actress and RC spokesperson Kelly Hu, and enjoyed the proceedings. Mrs. Elena Brineman, director of USAID in the Dominican Republic, spoke about the global importance of marine conservation. Dr. Rub?n Torres, director of RC Dominican Republic, informed everyone about his goals and dreams for RC Dominican Republic. Kelly Hu spoke about Reef Check?s accomplishments and about the important role it plays in educating and motivating society towards world reef conservation. Kelly also got a first-hand look at the Dominican reefs as she spent some time snorkeling among the beautiful corals of Catalina Island.

The night was also an opportunity to welcome the new members of the Reef Check Dominican Republic Board of Directors. The event ended with a video presentation about the Reef Check learning adventure experienced by 28 children from a school in the mountains of Jarabacoa. Together with their tutors and teachers, the students spent one week in Front?n Beach in Saman? being close to nature and receiving hands-on education about coral reefs and the importance of their preservation. Reef Check thanks everyone who attended Reef Rescue DR including the wonderful people, businesses, and organizations who helped sponsor the event and who donated items and time.

Tony Torres, Alexis Medina, RC volunteer Oswaldo Orgini, RC DR board member Humberto Ruiz

Philip Silvestre, Mitch Allen, USAID Dominican Republic Director Elena Brineman, USAID Dominican Republic Program Manager Michael Donald

Reef Check Adds Four to the Board

Four new members have been added to the Reef Check board in past months. They include Eddy Medora (former marketing director for Disney), Shepard Smith (talent manager), Will Knox (restaurant consultant) and Mara New, who is featured as this issue?s Reef Check Champion.

Thank You BBQ for Volunteers

Photo: Tekau Frere

Reef Check is an organization that depends primarily on the involvement and support of volunteers. Whether worldwide or in California, we always welcome the help of reef enthusiasts. As a proof of our gratitude, we opened our headquarters to the California volunteers who completed their recent training, and to those who donated their time and energy to help us with Reef Rescue 2006. ?I always enjoy opportunities to promote important causes,? said volunteer Athena Trentin. ?Volunteering with organizations such as Reef Check empowers me to feel I have had the chance to influence our environment in a positive way,? she added.

It was a warm and beautiful day in Pacific Palisades and after a delicious BBQ by RC chef Chris Knight, volunteers and staff went down the beach to play volleyball and enjoy the afternoon sun, a nice way to kick off the 4th of July weekend. Our sincere thanks goes out to all our fantastic volunteers!

Reef Check at the Kona Classic 2006

Jim Squires? winning shot

Some of the world?s top underwater photo bugs got a crash course in reef ecosystems and conservation at this year's Kona Classic on the Big Island of Hawai?i. In our third year of participation, Reef Check was once again partnering with Body Glove to bring a sustainable environmental aspect to this prestigious week-long photography celebration. Over 50 aspiring photographers, and pros Marty Snyderman, David Fleetham, and Ty Sawyer worked with Reef Check staff members, talking about Reef Check and conducting surveys with the event participants. The highlight of the week was Body Glove Kids' Day at the Kailua-Kona Pier. Over 100 local kids, ages 6-17, showed up to collect their free set of snorkel gear from Body Glove and to go on a snorkel  treasure hunt while learning some basic things to help protect their local reefs. 

Reef Check offered special prizes to the following event participants who took the best shots of local indicator species for Reef Check: Jim Squires (1st Place), Lance Hansen (2nd Place), Dee Wescott (3rd Place), and Cynthia Hankins (Honorable Mention). These shots will be used in Reef Check training materials for the benefit of all Reef Check divers.

Reef Check was very proud to participate in this annual event and we owe special thanks to Body Glove and its President Russ Lesser for making our presence at this year's Kona Classic a huge success. 

California Corner

Cyndi Dawson – RC?s new Central Coast Manager

After one year of development and field testing, Reef Check California is officially underway.  We have successfully completed three trainings and the newly trained volunteer divers have been hard at work completing three full surveys with several additional surveys in progress.  We have also added a new staff member to our team, Cyndi Dawson, who will be coordinating our efforts along the Central Coast.  Cyndi previously worked as a biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game on the Central Coast standardizing underwater census methods, so as you might expect, she will be a valuable addition.

Speaking of the California Department of Fish and Game, the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative is moving forward with the Fish and Game Commission expected to select a preferred network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) during their upcoming meeting this August. To help evaluate the effectiveness of the new network of MPAs, we will be locating survey sites inside and outside the new protected areas. Now is the time to voice your opinion for the network(s) you feel will most effectively meet the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act. I encourage you to visit the Department?s website to learn about the alternative proposals and submit your comments to

Our 1000 Diver campaign is going strong but we still need your help to get the word out. If you haven?t already, please sign up and encourage your dive buddies to do the same. 
Welcome once again to Cyndi and we look forward to seeing you all in the water soon!

Words from a trained volunteer: ?Holy Mackerel, there?s a lot of stuff to count in the sea!!?
By Claudette Dorsey

I had the pleasure of being a student in the first California Reef Check course in Los Angeles, including a three-day training tour of Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Sixteen students were accompanied by two instructors and three marine biologists aboard the dive boat Explorer out of Ventura Harbor. It was an unforgettable experience that will fuel all of us for years to come as we join the Reef Check California Survey and Monitoring Team.

RC California?s first group of trained volunteers!

We spent the first training dives alternating between being excited new volunteers, and overwhelmed new research divers. Not everything looked like the flash card pictures! Giant kelp and sea palms? Easy. The rest?? You?ve got to be kidding me!! How can I count what I can?t ID, at 9 feet-per-minute over jungle-covered boulders, with a frisky surge swinging us around? What?s the difference between a warty sea cucumber and a California sea cuke?? I?m terrible at this! What was I thinking? I?m a nurse, not a scientist. I dive for fun, not work. Oh my? three days of being an idiot! I should not be here! Back on deck, the instructors talked us all down off the ledge, showing us what part of our data was good, and what was?. not so good. We were taught what we didn?t know (red urchins can be black? who knew?) and given plenty of opportunities to practice. Our confidence grew as the instructors poured on the teaching and encouragement. The second day focused on teaching Fish ID and counts. Like a slow-mo shooting gallery (without the armaments), we cruised the transect line, identifying, estimating sizes and numbers, noting all on our survey data sheets, thumping our heads over the vagaries of black rockfish versus blue rockfish, pile perch versus rubberlip sea perch, and senoritas versus female rock wrasses.

I was getting better at this. Wow. Who was I? And what had they done with the idiot who had been wearing my dive gear yesterday??? Just yesterday… Wow! Proficiency testing began to go very well.

Day 3 instructions: Be ready to splash in by 9 to begin Fish ID and count proficiency testing. And then the BIG SURPRISE was revealed:  WE were about to do the first all-volunteer California Reef Check site survey. Us. Not the scientists. Not the Reef Check Head Honchos. Us. The calibrated, the validated… the nervous and eager.

Claudette Dorsey, Chris Knight and Kathyrn Kempton show off the first survey

After passing the final tests, we began. Survey tasks were assigned to buddy teams: transect lines, fish counts, invertebrates, algae, and Uniform Contact Points. The instructors and scientists looked like proud papas as all these brand-new Reef Checkers turned in data sheets, got new assignments, and rolled off the deck to get back to work. Leaders Craig Shuman and Chris Knight couldn?t stop grinning. Craig completed the final site description form, and our graduation celebration was complete. WE are California Reef Checkers now, baby!!!
As the final divers returned, photos were taken, hands were shaken, and the smiles got bigger. This was a great trip of learning for both the students and the instructors, who are dedicated to turning enthusiastic volunteers into accurate data-gathering divers with scientific knowledge and rigor. We are only the first of many as this program gathers power and rolls out. I'm still smiling because of this great experience. My diving has been changed again. And I get another way to give back.

Thank you Craig, Chris and Reef Check for MAKING this happen. We did it, and you made it fun and wonderful.

Mark Your Calendars
RC Philippines Visions of the Reef: September 15, 2006
Reef Check Philippines will be presenting “Visions of the Reef,” an underwater photo and video exhibit at 6pm at the Rockwell Loft in Manila. Tickets are P1,500 each and there will be chances to win some great dive prizes. To buy your tickets, call 8131308 or 8937252.

Las Vegas Inhabitants Show: September 26, 2006

Reef Check is making a huge splash at the Chameleon Studios hosting INHABITANTS, an artistic performance of dancers and musical artist