|The Transect Line - January 2012||Newsletter Archive|
|Reef Check Spotlight: Why Do Hammerheads Have Hammer Heads?|
|By Cara Hodgson
Sharks are one of the increasingly rare organisms seen on coral reefs. They have been eliminated from many reefs due to demand for their fins to make shark fin soup, a Chinese delicacy. In 2011, there were some big “wins” for sharks with shark finning and trading banned in several areas. Because shark sightings are now so rare just about everywhere, Reef Checkers are asked to record any sharks during their dives – even of those observed off of the transects.
|Reef Check California Update|
|By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald
The 2012 training schedule is up! Join our ranks as a citizen scientist by participating in one of our trainings. There are seven courses, from Ft Bragg to San Diego, available for new Reef Checkers. If you are interested in surveying with us again this year, there are seven opportunities to be recertified. Spots are limited, so sign up today at http://reefcheck.org/rcca/training_schedule.php
|Marine Parks Show Success in Indonesia|
|By Jenny Willis, Reef Check Indonesia
Recent research supports observations from Reef Check Indonesia that marine reserves increase the diversity and abundance of plants and animals within them.
The Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) has completed a review of more than 200 peer-reviewed recent scientific publications about 150 marine protected areas in 61 countries, and has concluded:
• Biomass, or the mass of animals and plants, increased an average of 446%.
• Density, or the number of plants or animals in a given area, increased an average of 166%.
• Body Size of animals increased an average of 28%.
• Species Density, or the number of species, increased an average of 21% in the sample area.
It also found that increases were similar in places of different latitude, in both temperate and tropical reserves.
Reef Check Indonesia Field Officer, Derta Prabuning said the finding of the PISCO research is supported by anecdotal reports given to him by local fishermen.
“Additional to the ecological monitoring we do regularly, the best indication comes from what we hear from the fishermen’s experience. Fishermen are saying there appears to be increasing fish abundance since the Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) were set up in Bondalem (2008) and Tejakula (2009).”
Derta also said it now appears that more rare ornamental fish can be found in the LMMAs and that there appears to be lots of new coral growing. More research is needed in Indonesia to verify these observations.
You can read the report from PISCO here at http://www.piscoweb.org/publications/outreach-materials/science-of-marine-reserves-0
For more information, contact Reef Check Indonesia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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|Coral Bleaching Management in Malaysia|
|By Reef Check Malaysia
Coral reefs are valuable resources, attracting millions of visitors each year to Malaysia. It is estimated that coral reefs in Malaysia are worth some US$600 million annually through direct and indirect revenues from the tourism and fisheries industries and coastal protection.
In the Indo-Pacific, bleaching events have been widely reported since the 1980s. Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed by environmental conditions such as unusually high sea temperatures, low salinity, and exposure to toxic chemicals. It is characterized by the loss of microscopic algae called zooxanthellae that live within the tissues of most corals. Zooxanthellae not only provide corals with a food supply, they are also responsible for giving corals their distinctive green and brown coloration.
More recently, Malaysia experienced bleaching events in 1998, 2004 and 2010. Widespread coral bleaching occurred in Peninsular Malaysia from mid April to June 2010 and bleaching in East Malaysia was reported from mid May to early June 2010. Coral bleaching seems to be increasing in frequency due to the rapidly changing environment and increasing anthropogenic threats.
Some scientists are predicting that coral bleaching will occur annually in the coming decades. While bleaching cannot easily be prevented or stopped, steps can be taken to promote coral recovery after a bleaching event.
Acknowledging this, Reef Check Malaysia has teamed up with the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia to establish a framework response for coral bleaching management. A Bleaching Response Plan is being drafted that will define a set of pre-determined actions to be taken in response to bleaching-related events. It represents an urgent need for collaboration between managers, government, non-governmental agencies and concerned stakeholders to take immediate actions to improve reef ecosystem resilience, aiding recovery from the stress events. The objective is to put in place a simple mechanism to react to bleaching events with appropriate actions.
The response plan will have 4 major components:
1. Early warning system
By combining satellite data with a community-based monitoring network, bleaching will be reported to the various responsible authorities when it occurs. This enables predicting and identifying possible bleaching events, which will provide information for communication with stakeholders, government agencies and the media.
2. Ground-truthing survey
This will be done by assessing and measuring the level and impact of bleaching by setting up a bleaching task force to carry out bleaching monitoring and investigation. Once data is gathered, a brief report of the preliminary results can be prepared.
3. Public awareness and communication exercise
It is important to let all stakeholders know how they can adapt to bleaching problems, and also how human activities can be managed to reduce further damage to bleached reefs.
4. Resilience building action plan
In order to give coral reefs the best chance of survival, relevant authorities will take appropriate steps to remove and reduce human stresses to the reef.
The bleaching response plan is a post-occurrence, short term action plan. Our real focus should be first and foremost to mitigate the causes of coral bleaching i.e. reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses that cause climate change. Everyone can help. Simple steps such as switching off electrical appliances when not in use, turning off the tap while you are brushing your teeth, using public transport or car pooling, will go a long way. Even though you might be physically detached from the reefs, you can still do your part to save them from disappearing.
For more information, contact Reef Check Malaysia at email@example.com
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|Koh Tao’s First Ever Reef Check Training of Trainers|
|By Reef Check EcoDiver Course Director Nathan Cook
In the week leading up to Christmas, Thailand’s island of Koh Tao & Crystal Dive played host to its first Reef Check Training of Trainers program.
We were joined by Reef Check scientist Suchana "Apple" Chavanich for some of the classroom sessions. It was great having Apple present for part of the course to answer some of the more in-depth questions and provide further information on the role of Reef Check in Thailand and worldwide.
During the course, the participants undertook detailed classroom lectures on organism ID and their roles in the ecosystem before diving on local reefs. During the dives, new instructors were given the reins to manage and coordinate the relevant surveys to confirm they would be capable of handling this role in the future. We also threw some potential problems at students to check their proficiency in addressing and correcting problems.
On the final afternoon we headed to a local dive site, Twins, where our new instructors took control of a full Reef Check survey which has since been submitted to Reef Check Headquarters for inclusion in the worldwide database.
Congratulations to participants in the course including Crystal Dive instructors Nicolas Hebrant & Liran Barkan, Chad Scott of Marine Conservation Koh Tao and Hariharan Lyyappan from India.
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|Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans Gala: September 8, 2012|
This year's Save the Reefs, Save the Oceans Gala will be be held September 8, 2012 at the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, California. The evening will recognize the contributions of our “Heroes of the Reef” each having demonstrated an exemplary commitment to ocean conservation.
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