By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Friewald
April is the start of the field season for Reef Check California (RCCA). This month we had several of our annual recertifications for Reef Check divers as well as trainings for new divers. We recertified Reef Checkers in Monterey and Los Angeles and trained a group of new divers over two weekends in Los Angeles. I would like to welcome these new divers to the team! For me, the LA recertification at Catalina was my first day of being in the field and diving with Reef Check. I met many of the dedicated volunteers and watched how they surveyed rocky reefs. I enjoyed the great work and attitude of the Reef Check volunteers. Not only did everyone get recertified on this trip, but we also saw a variety of wildlife including a black sea bass during one of the dives and whales on the way back from Catalina to Long Beach harbor. Altogether we recertified and trained a total of 76 divers in April that are now ready for the 2010 survey season. Some of them have already started to survey in Southern California – kicking off our 2010 survey season.
In northern California we continue to work with our collaborators on the baseline monitoring of the MPAs between Bodega Bay and Point Arena for the MLPA initiative. Over the last months we have further developed collaborations with academic and other citizen science groups to integrate monitoring efforts in this region. Further, RCCA joined the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS), an organization that fosters coordination of marine observation to inform decision makers and the public. Working with this group will make RCCA’s data available to other groups working in the same region and increase the programs visibility through CeNCOOS’s data portals.
As we move into the 2010 survey season there are still possibilities to become a new Reef Check diver and get involved in this year’s data collection. Please check the training schedule on our website, or if you are already part of the Reef Check team you can sign up for recertification. The survey dates and locations are listed on the RCCA forum so if you want to get out and participate, check there for updates and to sign up.