June 1, 2005

Reef Check Launches California Rocky Reef Program

Los Angeles, June 2005 — Reef Check, the world’s leading reef monitoring and conservation organization, has launched a major citizen’s ocean monitoring initiative along California’s Central Coast this Summer.

The Reef Check California program will train volunteer teams of local divers, surfers, and fishermen to survey marine life on underwater rocky reefs and to develop an accurate picture of the health of California’s near-shore marine environment from Santa Barbara to Monterey. The new Reef Check California program seeks to bring together existing groups and to standardize volunteer efforts so that changes in ecological health can be tracked from year to year.

“The California marine environment has been beaten up over the past 25 years” said Dr. Greg Hodgson, Reef Check’s Founder and Executive Director. “The abalone, red sea urchins and several highly sought fish species such as the ling cod have been decimated. Just as it is important to monitor the quality of the water we swim in, it is equally important to check on the health of our living marine resources. Once we have an accurate picture of ecological health, we can then make better decisions about how to effectively manage these economically and ecologically important resources.”

Dr. Craig Shuman, Reef Check California Program Director adds, “The rocky reefs along the California coast and off-shore islands are home to a diverse array of fish and invertebrates. Large stretches of our reefs lack consistent, organized monitoring and study. This program aims to fill data gaps in the existing monitoring network.”

In 2005, volunteers will be trained by Reef Check scientists to monitor fish and invertebrate populations along the state’s Central Coast. In 2006, the program will expand to include Southern and Northern California. The collected data will be made available on a website and scientific analysis will be used to support better management of California’s complex reef cosystems.

Now in it’s 9th year of operation, Reef Check Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that maintains the world’s largest coral reef monitoring and conservation program. Reef Check’s network of scientist and volunteer divers from over 80 countries and territories submit standardized data to the USA headquarters for analysis and review. International teams work with communities, governments and businesses to scientifically monitor, restore, and maintain coral reefs globally. Reef Check has received prestigious national and international environmental awards for its work, and is the United Nations’ official community-based reef monitoring program.

Reef Check’s California program is being made possible in part through a grant from the California Coastal and Marine Initiative of the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation.