June 21, 2017

Reef Check Tayrona is Colombia’s Biggest Citizen Science Event Ever

Submitted by Reef Check Colombia Coordinator Phanor H Montoya Maya, PhD, Director of Corales de Paz

In April, more than 60 citizens conducted 248 dives in which they invested over 14,000 minutes in training. The purpose of this Reef Check Tayrona expedition, the largest citizen science event ever conducted in Colombia, was to survey the health of the local coral reefs.

The event was a complete success because they were able to unite the diving tourism industry, the fishermen, and the scientific community, all with the same proposition:  to learn to evaluate the health of our coral reefs. The participants are now observers with Corales de Paz, which assists national institutions, so that together they can increase the scale and frequency of the monitoring of the health of this strategic and threatened ecosystem.

Reef Check Colombia Coordinator Dr. Phanor H Montoya Maya, Reef Check Regional Coordinator for the Caribbean Dr. Ruben Torres, Reef Check Executive Director Dr. Gregor Hodgson

The event also gave participants the opportunity to transmit their knowledge directly to the public. Similarly, they learned the impacts threatening the reef ecosystem. In the words of partipant Pedro Daniel, ex-president of the Association of Chinchorreros of Taganga, “the Reef Check Tayrona allowed me to observe the physical damage generated by anchors over the coral heads; now I am more conscious of the necessity to avoid irresponsible anchoring”.

Corales De Paz wants to thank all the entities that helped with this important and vital initiative. The Reef Check Tayrona expedition demonstrated the support of Reef Check, the Confederación Mundial de Actividades Subacuaticas (C.M.A.S) Zona América, Conservación Internacional Colombia, the Corporación Autónoma Regional del Magdalena (Corpamag), la Dirección Territorial Caribe de Parques Nacionales Naturales, the Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (Invemar), la Federacioón Columbiana de Activadades Subacuaticas (FEDECAS), the Tienda de Buceo El Rodadero y Casa de Buceo, the dive school Arrecifes del Pacifico, the dive center Reef Shepherd, Monitoreos Ambientales (MoAm), Asesorías Contables Doly Luna S.A.S., Colombina, the Hotel El Rodadero, the Acuario y Museo del Rodadero, and the application for mobile phones SEAK.

Lastly, we extend thanks to the national and international scientific team, Maria Claudia Diazgranadaos, Juan Pablo Caldas Aristizabal and Edgardo Ochoa of the Conservación Internacional; Raúl Navas and Cesar Garcia of Invemar; Ruben Torres and Nicolas Florestal of Reef Check; Oscar Delgadillo of MoAm; and Nuphar Charuvi. To all of you, thank you for uniting us in this process of citizen science training.

For more information about future expeditions, visit www.coralesdepaz.org or contact info@coralesdepaz.org.