By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson
To reflect on the Reef Check California Program’s (RCCA) humble beginnings in late 2005, to my arrival with the program in May 2006 to jump on the train that Gregor Hodgson and Craig Shuman already had racing down the tracks, to where we are now- over 500 divers trained and 73 sites stretching from Eureka to San Diego- is really awe inspiring. It is in looking back with a sense of wonder and looking forward to the amazing things to come, that I have arrived at an incredibly hard decision: it is time for me to move on from Reef Check (RC). I have learned so much from all of you and one of the things I will miss the most is jumping in the water with you and being part of this movement to ensure healthier reefs in California through citizen science that we have all started together. In addition to the amazing connections I have made with so many of you, I also have been privileged to work with an incredibly dedicated, knowledgeable, and hard working staff that will all continue in their current positions with RC. Our Regional Managers, Colleen and Megan are the backbone of this Program, with support provided by our Associate Program Manager Geoff, who helps to keep us on track with our grants and funders. Our volunteer coordinators, student interns, and contract instructors also continue to look to support you and help facilitate trainings and surveys. They will all help to ensure a seamless transition and welcome RCCA’s new program director.
I am incredibly excited to announce that the new Director of the RC California Program is Dr. Jan Freiwald. He recently finished his PhD in Mark Carr’s lab at UCSC and has a strong background in rocky reef ecology. He also worked closely with the PISCO subtidal monitoring program and is excited to work with you all to continue to get RCCA data used to inform and improve marine management in California. Please check out Jan’s message below to hear about his exciting plans for RCCA. I also wanted to officially welcome Laurel Fink to RCCA as the Southern California Volunteer Coordinator. She is looking forward to educating, inspiring and supporting your efforts.
I want to thank you all for your incredible effort and encourage you to keep it up. YOU are making a difference, our data are being used and this will only increase each year. I am extremely confident in Jan’s leadership and I can’t wait for all of you to meet him soon. He will be making a special effort this training season to try and attend as many recertifications as possible so he can jump in the water and meet all of you. To all the Reef Checkers out there, thank you once again for all that you do, you have inspired me more than you know. I will take all I have learned from you and RC to my future endeavors to continue doing good science that is helping to ensure healthier oceans. Don’t forget to sign up for a recertification to collect data in 2010 and spread the word to your dive buddies about the wonderful work that we all do!
So some of you may have noticed we upgraded to a new version of the Forum. We are still working out the bugs but you should all be receiving your digests and be able to follow and post topics. If you are having any issues please contact your regional managers so they can help trouble shoot with you. As you all know the Forum is the primary means of communication about RCCA events. So make sure you are signed up so you don’t miss any of the exciting opportunities to dive statewide this season!
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!
A Message from the New Reef Check California Director, Dr. Jan Freiwald
As Reef Check California (RCCA) moves into its 5th survey season and prepares to dive into this exciting time of year, I join the team as the new Director of Reef Check’s California Program. My name is Jan Freiwald (pronounced “Yawn”), and I am coming to Reef Check (RC) from the University of California Santa Cruz where I completed my dissertation research on the ecology of temperate reef fishes. I used acoustic telemetry to investigate the movement of three kelp forest fishes – kelp greenling, kelp rockfish and blue rockfish. I investigated how large their home ranges are and how the size of these home ranges is influenced by factors such as habitat and population density.
I am excited to become a part of RCCA and contribute to its efforts to inform the management of our unique marine environments and to work towards healthier reefs along our coast. RC’s statewide program is a unique opportunity for Californians to get involved in the science that is needed to understand the status of biological communities on the rocky reefs along our coast. I am looking forward to growing the RCCA program this summer by expanding our statewide network of survey sites along the north/central coast from Point Arena to Pigeon Point, where new marine protected areas (MPAs) will be established this year.
To ensure a smooth transition, Cyndi and I have been working side by side over the last few weeks while I become familiar with all aspects of the program. I attended the annual RCCA retreat on Catalina this year where I met staff and many of our instructors. Over the next months I will be traveling throughout the state to participate in recertifications, trainings, and surveys to meet the volunteers that make this program possible. I look forward to meeting the many dedicated volunteers that make RCCA such a unique and successful program, and I am committed to ensuring that data collected through their efforts will be used to improve the health of rocky reefs and kelp forests along our coast.