September 30, 2009

Reef Check California September 2009 Update

By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson

We are in the final push of the survey season and so far the ocean has been kind. To date we have completed 50 surveys and are on target to complete over 60 sites statewide this year. Southern California has made a big push over the last week completing 6 surveys in 7 days. This was facilitated through our partnership with the Department of Fish and Game, and their commitment to let us use their vessel the Garabaldi. Since Reef Check California (RCCA) has also partnered with the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, we have been able to train divers in RCCA Methods who are also certified American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Scientific Divers. The AAUS certification is required to dive off any state and federal vessel, and these partnerships have been important to allow the continued expansion of our monitoring network to include sites on the Channel Islands, which are difficult to reach in one-day charter boat trips. We also completed our Pt. Lobos State Marine Reserve surveys this month on the central coast, which included one site located in the no-dive area of the Reserve that was made possible through our partnership with California State Parks. We are committed to continuing to support our partners and to publicize their support of the RCCA program. You can see photos of many of the recent surveys at

Another highlight of the past month is the filming of a documentary episode starring our very own Southern California Regional Manager Colleen Wisniewski. The new series is called “SciGirls” and is focused on getting girls involved in scientific research. The location for the shoot was at Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay (CIMI), one of our partners. CIMI hosted the film crew, as well as Colleen and the girls that were part of the episode. The girls and Colleen spent 3 days diving on the island and collecting data inside and outside a marine reserve. We developed a modified protocol to allow the girls to collect data while snorkeling from the surface for the episode. Reef Check California, CIMI, and our Nearshore Ecosystem Database will all be featured prominently in the episode airing early next year. We will post a link to the episode as soon as it’s available.

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 support! Your donations to RCCA go directly to supporting the collection of the critical data needed to sustainably manage California’s marine resources. If you aren’t a member, please join us and help ensure the sustainability of reefs worldwide!