February 25, 2010

Reef Check California February 2010 Update

By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson

Well so much for the off season! Your Reef Check California (RCCA) staff has been ramping things up this past month to get ready for the fast approaching survey season. During the first part of the month the Reef Check Board of Directors held a Strategic Planning session that focused on charting a course for the organization for the future. Our Top Transector for 2008 and 2009, Dirk Burcham, attended to provide the RCCA point of view from a volunteer’s perspective. We followed up this event with the annual RCCA Staff and Instructor retreat. See the article in this newsletter for photos and a detailed run down of events. These two events have really energized the staff to keep striving to improve the Program and find ways to better support the efforts of our incredible volunteer citizen scientists.

Other BIG NEWS in February is RCCA was awarded funds from the Ocean Protection Council to help with the baseline monitoring of the soon-to-be-implemented marine protected areas (MPAs) along the north central coast. RCCA joined a host of academic institutions such as Sonoma State University, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and others to collaborate on a proposal that will comprehensively monitor most of the habitats present inside and outside the new MPAs. Groups will focus on sandy beaches, the intertidal zone, deep reefs (>60ft) with ROVs, and RCCA will be part of the focus on shallow (<60ft) rocky reefs. This award was based on a peer reviewed process administered through California Sea Grant. This is a momentous step for RCCA to be recognized by our scientific peers to collect critical baseline data that will be used to evaluate and adaptively manage this network of MPAs in the future. RCCA data collected by our citizen scientist volunteers will also be part of an innovative integrated analysis at the end of two years of data collection to interpret the results across all habitats and assess the overall health of the region’s rocky reefs. You can click here to read the press release on the award.

We continue to get our data out there and this month we added RCCA information to the Monterey National Marine Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network (SIMoN) website. The SIMoN website serves as a clearinghouse for relevant datasets within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Through an array of database and display systems, and information provided from close to 100 research institutes, they have the best available comprehensive view of the MBNMS, and now RCCA is a part of this incredible resource. Visit the SIMoN Kelp Forest Project Page by clicking here and check out RCCA and other projects collecting data on rocky reefs in the MBNMS.

If you want the inside scoop on what is happening with RCCA you can follow me on Twitter. I will continue “tweeting” throughout the season to keep everyone updated on the RCCA program and my exploits as RCCA’s Director of Science. All relevant updates will also be posted on the Forum including daily blogs when I am on the road spreading the word about Reef Check.

We continue to be on the front lines of improving marine management in California and we need your continued support! Your donations to RCCA go directly to supporting the collection of the critical data needed to sustainably manage California’s marine resources. Please join us and help ensure the sustainability of reefs worldwide!