December 12, 2007

Year in Review: Reef Check Hawai`i

Submitted by Krista Heide

Reef Check Hawai`i has had a busy and productive year establishing our organization as an important and prominent reef steward and marine educator to communities throughout the Hawaiian islands.

In early spring, we hired our first staff member, full time coordinator, Krista Heide. An underwater photographer, scuba instructor and passionate marine advocate, Krista has focused her efforts primarily on creating new Reef Check outreach and training materials, developing a strong volunteer base, and training new monitoring teams on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. She anticipates the posting of our new website before the year’s end!

In June, Reef Check Hawai`i was honored by the presence of renowned oceanographer and marine conservationist, Dr. Sylvia Earle, while participating in the Save Our Seas Clean Oceans Conference in Kauai. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first Reef Check, Reef Check Hawai`i members from Oahu and Kauai teamed up with colleagues from Reef Check Foundation and Reef Check Guatemala, to resurvey the original Reef Check site completed in 1997. The conference proved to be a great forum for strengthening partnerships within the marine conservation community, promoting Reef Check’s Declaration of Reef Rights, and reinforcing the importance of monitoring efforts and ocean conservation on Kauai and across the globe.

Following the conference, Reef Check Foundation’s EcoAction Program Manager, Cori Kane, accompanied Reef Check Hawai`i trainers back to Oahu where she brought us up to speed with the new EcoAction training protocol and certification course. Since then, Reef Check Hawai`i has broadened its education and monitoring efforts by holding island-wide volunteer training sessions and establishing regular monitoring teams on Maui and the Big Island in addition to those already established on Oahu and Kauai. Among this new base of volunteers are several scientists affiliated with the University of Hawai`i who have been trained as Reef Check leaders and team scientists. Possessing a wealth of diverse marine knowledge, these invaluable participants are eager to help us attain a thorough picture of Hawai`i’s reef health in the year ahead.

Fall activities included surveys on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island, participation in the International Coastal Clean-up on Oahu and Kauai, and involvement in an outreach event hosted by KAHEA, the Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, in memory of surfer and activist, John Kelly.

Recognized for our commitment and devotion to the protection and rehabilitation of Hawai`i’s coral reefs, Reef Check Hawai`i was honored to be a nominee at the 2007 Hawaii Living Reefs awards held in September. The awards, presented by Hawai`i’s Coral Reef Outreach Network, honor businesses, organizations and community leaders who demonstrate dedicated and conscientious efforts nurturing and caring for Hawai`i’s marine environment. As a nominee in the non-governmental category, Reef Check Hawai`i was acknowledged at the awards event with a display table to highlight our activities, goals and achievements.

We finish out the year with the forthcoming posting of our new website, and the exciting announcement of our official 501(c) 3, non-profit status!

As we continue to define and strengthen our monitoring role within the scientific community, educate the people of Hawai`i, and create collaborative relationships with local businesses, governmental agencies and like-minded environmental organizations throughout the islands, Reef Check Hawai`i moves into the International Year of the Reef with escalating momentum. We look forward to an eventful, enlightening and dynamic year, implementing and encouraging positive change for the preservation of coral reefs across Hawai`i. For information, contact

Divers survey the substrate at Honaunau (Photo: Krista Heide)
Kewala Bay volunteers (Photo: RC Hawai`i)