By Allison Lloyd, Owner/Editor of Sponge Magazine, South Florida
On April 25, 2010, just five days after the BP Deep Horizon oil rig exploded, Reef Check, The Perry Institute for Marine Science and Ocean Rehab Initiative Inc. responded to protect threatened critical wetland ecosystems.
Collaboratively, these institutions of marine research and conservation developed the Pre-Oil Volunteer Survey, whose methodology is now widely used across the Gulf of Mexico and Greater Caribbean by groups including USGS, USCG, NOAA, EPA, DEP, The Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation and others.
Scientists agreed that the survey methodology must be easy to teach and understand, be at little or no cost to perform, and provide real and significant results for science. In fact, you may even own most of the equipment needed for the survey, like a camera, GPS, tape measure, magic marker and plastic cards.
To date, hundreds of volunteers have surveyed critical habitats for oil-threatened species in their native wetlands (estuaries, sea grasses, mangroves, lagoons, rivers, inlets, reefs and beaches) along South Florida, from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to Indian River County. Just this week, teams surveyed reefs in Palm Beach and Martin County, and were pleased to discover a healthy reef system.
Residents up and down the coast have volunteered their time to aid during the largest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. Current and future volunteers are not only divers, but come from all backgrounds: children, elderly, activists, government employees, retired and working citizens.
To support conservation efforts and learn more about the methodology and volunteer opportunities in Florida, contact William via email at www.oceanrehab.org or call 561-308-8848.
Click here for some great video footage from pre-oil surveys.