December 16, 2011

Reef Check California December 2011 Update

By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald

Reef Check California has completed another exciting and very successful year! We have completed our data collection which continued into the fall and winter this year. Throughout 2011, we surveyed most of our existing sites, added additional survey sites where we saw the need (especially with respect to the new MPAs that will go into effect in southern California), and added another year of data to our Nearshore Ecosystem Database. Some of the highlights of the year were the beginning of the MPA baseline monitoring in southern California where we are working with a collaborative team of researchers to establish the ecological and socio-economic baseline of the region as reserves are put into place in this largest of the five MLPA regions of the state. In addition to our monitoring efforts in this region we have partnered with the Surfrider Foundation to conduct outreach and educational events over the last few months to inform the public about the new MPAs. These events were very well attended and lively discussion between audience and presenters often went on long after the presentations had ended.

Further north, we have successfully completed the data collection for the baseline monitoring of MPAs that were established in 2010 between San Mateo and Mendocino Counties. All of the data collected in this region will now be combined and analyzed to describe the status of the ecosystem as MPAs have been established. At the same time we had our first volunteer training in Ft. Bragg, Mendocino County. A group of very dedicated local divers participated, have started to survey sites and will build the backbone of the expansion of our program in this under-monitored region of the state.

Throughout the year we built new partnerships with educational and research institutions. On Catalina Island we started to work with the Emerald Bay Boy Scout Camp and trained their staff in RCCA survey methods. The group of dedicated staff at the camp has set up and started surveying two sites of their own. We also partnered with the scientific diving programs at Monterey Bay State University and the University of California Santa Cruz and will start to train their divers in time for the next survey season. These partnerships strengthen our program, add to our body of dedicated citizen scientists and, at the same time, provide a hands-on educational experience for students. We have also continued to work with our existing partners, including the Department of Fish and Game which has continued to provide many boat days on their RV Garibaldi, enabling us to survey our sites at the Northern Channel Islands. American Red Cross cpr

Overall, this has been a very successful year for Reef Check California and we would like to thank all of our dedicated and hard working volunteers, community partners, collaborators and supporters! We could not have done this important work without you and look forward to continuing to work with you next year.