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The Transect Line - March 2009
  Newsletter Highlights
Vote For Your Favorite & Win! Ends March 31st! Reef Check Florida Launches With 1st Pro Dive Training
Reef Check California Update Reef Check Brochure On Persian Gulf Available
Become A Coral Reef Surveyor For RC Australia! Public Outreach Volunteers Needed
Get Trained With Reef Check Malaysia    
 Vote For Your Favorite Video and Win!
Voting closes March 31st in the Reef Check Kids International Singing Contest on Video featuring the "Year of the Reef” song. Be sure to visit the contest page to get your vote in for your favorite video! Each voter will automatically be entered into a raffle to win a prize package containing a $50 gift certificate to GetWetStore.com and a Reef Check t-shirt and hat!

Hosted by Body Glove and Reef Lab, cash prizes of $1000, $600 and $300 will be awarded to the top three groups of kids. Check out the great videos submitted by groups in American Samoa, Colombia, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, St. Eustatius, Taiwan, and Trinidad & Tobago to see the diverse ways people around the world express their culture and passion for reef conservation through music!
  Reef Check California Update
By Reef Check California Director of Science Cyndi Dawson

Spring has sprung and we are ready for another great year of Reef Check California! RCCA staff were busy this month putting the final touches on improvements to all aspects of the program. One of the big projects we undertook, with help from our HQ staff, was to finish our online species ID tests. Anyone can take the tests to find out what they know about some of the common rocky reef residents in California. You do not have to be an RCCA Diver to participate, so visit the Online Quiz, sign in or set up an account, and see how you do! All RCCA Divers take these quizzes each year during their annual recertification and the tests are an important part of our data quality assurance and control program.

Over 190 individual divers collected data as part of the Reef Check California Team in 2008. This year, to recognize the dedication of the Top Transector for the state, we awarded the Golden Slate Award to Dirk Burcham who completed 156 transects in 2008. Dirk surveyed over 3 miles underwater last year alone!!! Our Golden Slate awardees retroactively are Peter Ottersbach for 2006 and John Manos for 2007. Congratulations!

Training classes start this month and there are still a few spots in some of the RCCA Trainings throughout the state. There is no better way to take direct action to improve marine management in California than to become a trained RCCA Diver. If you are an experienced certified diver, please visit our training page and sign-up, the spots are going fast! If you are a non-diver and are interested in taking the RCCA Training Course, please contact california@reefcheck.org for more information and pricing.

We continue to be on the front lines of improving marine management in California and need your support! Your donations to RCCA go directly to supporting the collection of the critical data needed to sustainably manage California’s marine resources. If you aren’t a member, please join us!

  Reef Check Teams in Action
Become A Coral Reef Surveyor For Reef Check Australia!

Reef Check Australia has announced their training schedule for 2009 and is looking for volunteer coral reef surveyors! Join Reef Check Australia and take your scuba diving experiences to the next level:

• Become part of the community of coral reef surveyors.
• Learn how to monitor coral reef health.
• Improve your underwater knowledge and skills.
• Build your diving experience, log lots of dives.

Some training costs are involved, but once qualified, you can participate in free survey expeditions.

Trainings are scheduled for the following regions:
South-East Queensland (Sunshine and Gold Coast): June 2009
Townsville: September 2009
Cairns/Port Douglas: October 2009


Trainers’ Course: Are you an experienced dive instructor with a degree in marine biology or extensive knowledge of marine fauna? Join the Trainers’ course later this year (dates TBA)!

Contact support@reefcheckaustralia.org or call (07) 4724 3950 for more information.


Get Trained With Reef Check Malaysia
by Reef Check Malaysia Coordinator Julian Hyde

Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) Coordinator Julian Hyde sends us this update on his organization’s activities:

EcoDiver Training
After certifying 98 EcoDivers in 2008, RCM is looking to train and certify more EcoDivers this year.

During the past 3 months, RCM has been busy implementing a new approach to training, which includes two theory and pool sessions in Kuala Lumpur to prepare interested divers before moving on to open water training on one of the islands. These sessions place greater emphasis on buoyancy skills and include methodology training.

Once these sessions have been completed, participants will have the opportunity to sign up to complete their training on one of three islands – Tioman, Redang or Perhentian. Once qualified as EcoDivers, they will be encouraged to join our survey programme under the Sustainable Island Programme (see below).

Sustainable Island Programme
In 2009, RCM will continue working in collaboration with Wild Asia Sdn Bhd on the Sustainable Island Programme (SIP), with sponsorship from Sime Darby. This project combines the strengths of both Wild Asia and Reef Check to improve the marine condition on the islands.

The funds will be used to continue the survey programme started in 2008, as well as to implement the second phase of the programme, which is to work with resorts and dive operators on the islands to implement Responsible Tourism activities within their operations. The results from Reef Check surveys will be discussed with the operators to encourage them to practice responsible tourism to reduce their impacts on the marine ecosystem.

Rainforest to Reef Programme
RCM has received funding from Alstom Foundation to develop and implement its “Rainforest to Reef” outreach programme for the school children of five Marine Park Island schools. The programme consists of two main activities: a three-day Coral Reef Camp and two supporting activities.

The programme will start in March, with the first supporting activity held simultaneously on three Marine Park islands – Perhentian, Redang and Tioman. The Camps will be held between April and August.

Perhentian Island Project
RCM has received funding from the Global Environment Facility, under their Small Grants Programme, to implement an island-wide conservation programme on Perhentian Island.

RCM will be working with the stakeholders on the islands, including local villagers, resort and dive operators, and school children. The project will include a series of awareness programmes as well as workshops to find solutions to the issues affecting the natural resources on the island.

Supporters
RCM would like to thank the following major sponsors for their support: YTL Group, Sime Dary, Alstom Power, HSBC, BP Malaysia, and KPMG.

For more information, please visit www.reefcheck.org.my or contact wecare@reefcheck.org.my.


Reef Check Florida Launches With 1st Pro Dive Training
by Reef Check EcoDiver William Djubin

With all of the challenges and stressors faced by SE Florida reefs, a recreational diver like William Djubin could not think of a better way to protect his favorite reef than to get trained as a Tropical Reef Check EcoDiver during the ground-breaking stage of Reef Check Florida last month at Pro Dive in Ft. Lauderdale.

One week prior to my training, I attended a lecture given by Dr. Brian Lapointe of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute regarding Harmful Algae Blooms. He used the term ‘Shifting Baselines’ to explain the shift from coral covered reefs to algae dominated reefs in South Florida.

Understanding Reef Check (RC): RC methodologies focus on “Indicator Species.” These species help scientists understand the current health of your favorite reef and ocean waters, and establish baselines. While being able to recognize and identify every fish in the sea is impressive, it is not necessary for understanding reef health. The RC Tropical methodology focuses on 3 specific characteristics of the reef-tract being surveyed: Indicator Fishes (7), Indicator Invertebrates (8), and Indicator Substrates (10), which include hard and soft corals. All these components were discussed during the Florida training, which lasted three days:

Day 1 – Classroom session regarding ocean health, reefs, and current methodologies. Coincidentally, Reef Check Trainer Dr. Alex Brylske also used the term ‘shifting baselines’ regarding the dive industry. He explained that due to the current state of our oceans, recreational divers should want to assist scientists in monitoring reef health. South Florida reefs have suffered an 80%+ decline in overall health since 1998, and many reefs have completely collapsed.

Day 2 – Classroom with Fish, Invertebrate, and Substrate ID; lunch and then dive. The group successfully practiced the first Reef Check Florida transect and survey with a Pro Dive Team consisting of Dr. Alex Brylske and several dive masters.

Day 3 – Classroom with testing on Indicator Species; then dive for the group’s survey testing of indicator species.

I am confident that Reef Check will bring global attention to the South Florida Reefs, and applaud the urgency and excellence of the efforts to launch this program.

For information on Reef Check Florida, please contact Coordinator Alex Brylske.

William Djubin is the Founder of EarthRehab (and now a Reef Check Tropical EcoDiver!)


Reef Check Brochure On Persian Gulf Available
by Mohammad Ghavasi

The first Reef Check brochure on the Persian Gulf is now available thanks to the efforts of marine biologist Mohammad Ghavasi and funding from Sabet International Trading Co. The International Declaration of Reef Rights, a description about IYOR 2008 and an introduction to the Reef Check Foundation are all included in Persian. The brochure features wonderful photographs from Kish Island (by Mr. Bargahi), Farur Island (by Mr. Mohtarami) and Mr. Ghavasi’s last Reef Check survey in Nayband (by Mr. Buluki); all located in the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Ghavasi, a marine biologist from Iran, created the brochure as one of his efforts to contribute to IYOR 2008. Mohammad has also conducted many activities to raise public awareness about the status of coral reefs in the Persian Gulf. He translated, published, and encouraged people to sign the International Declaration of Reef Rights by distributing it at Khoramshahr Marine Science and Technology University, the "International Conference on Monitoring and Modeling of Marine Pollution (ICOMP 2008)" and at "Iran's 6th International Fisheries, Aquaculture & Seafood Exhibition.”

Reef Check Foundation and Mr. Ghavasi thank all the people involved in these projects, including Mr. Pejman Eslami for his great contribution to the preparation of this brochure. Mr. Ghavasi looks forward to conducting more activities in 2009 aimed towards the preservation of the Persian Gulf reefs, please click here if you would like to contact him.
  Mark Your Calendars
Public Outreach Volunteers Needed - Help Us Tell The Reef Check Story!

Do you care about the ocean and enjoy meeting new people?  The Reef Check Foundation, the world’s largest citizen-science organization focused on marine conservation, needs help from Los Angeles area volunteers at public events. We will specifically need volunteers for Earth Day events in April and Scuba Show (May 30 & 31 at Long Beach Convention Center). Volunteers must be energetic individuals who are passionate about ocean conservation, and feel comfortable talking with a steady stream of visitors at the Reef Check booth. All volunteers for May and later events will be required to attend a free 2-hour training session on May 9, 2009 at 10am that includes: basic ecology of reefs and summary of Reef Check Tropical and California Programs. Volunteers who participate in the events will be given a free Reef Check t-shirt.

These events are a great opportunity to make new connections, learn more about diving and the marine world, and help preserve and rehabilitate reefs worldwide. Spots are limited, for more information contact our Program Manager for Outreach Mary Luna

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