By Coordinator Rémi Garnier
Since 2002, marine scientists of ARVAM (Agence pour la Recherche et la Valorisation Marines) and the engineering office PARETO, specializing in the marine environment, have developed a programme to survey coral reef health using the Reef Check protocol via the educational and environmental project of the Quiksilver Initiative. The surfers’ involvement contributes to the development of a harmonious relationship between the surfers and their environment.
The French Guadeloupe Island is particularly concerned with the increasing degradation of their coral reefs because of threats generated by human activities, in addition to natural phenomena like hurricanes and more recently, the effects related to climatic changes (in particular coral bleaching).
Following its installation on Guadeloupe Island in 2006, PARETO, in partnership with the Regional Management of Environment Direction (DIREN), wishes to extend the Reef Check network in the French West Indies.
In 2007, a team was created with local surfers and divers. On April 27, the first Reef Check monitoring site of the French West Indies was established under the surf spot of Port Louis, one of the best waves on the island.
Several journalists were invited during the survey and have publicized the event on television, in newspapers and on the radio.
The results of the survey confirmed signs of overfishing and chronic degradation, in particular, symptoms related to the massive bleaching event in the Caribbean in 2005, where 40% of the corals of Guadeloupe were destroyed. The data will be added as soon as possible to the CoReMo 3 (Coral Reef Monitoring) database, developed by ARVAM. This database entry and analysis system include the Reef Check protocols for fixed benthos, fish and invertebrate targets. This database should ensure interoperability between various monitoring activities as well as various skill levels. Please contact ARVAM for more information.
In 2008, we hope to train new survey teams and establish new monitoring sites on other surf spots of the island.
Click here to watch coverage of Reef Check Guadeloupe on local TV station RFO
Click here to see more pictures and media coverage.