Volume 6 - Issue 3, November 2006

Reef Check Dedicates This Issue to Eddy Medora

Site Spotlight - Isla Natividad, Baja California

Reef Check Champion - Mike Guardino

Reef Check News
- New Staff at Reef Check Headquarters
- Reef Check to Launch Redesigned Website
- First EcoAction Training of Trainers Held in Mexico
- Reef Check Inhabitants Show in Las Vegas a Big Hit

California Corner

Reef Check Teams in Action
- Reef Check Philippines Hosts "Visions of the Reef" to Garner Support for Local Reefs

- Reef Check Australia Partners With Australian Government
- Reef Check and Earthwatch Join Forces for Thailand Expeditions

- Monitoring South Sinai's Coral Reefs
- Reef Check 2006 in the Negril Marine Park, Jamaica

Coral Reef Impacts of the 2005 Caribbean Bleaching Event

Mark Your Calendars
- December 11, 2006: Reef Check Hawai'i's Luau With the Stars
- Reef Check EcoAction Training of Trainers Schedule for 2007
- March 18-30, 2007 and April 1-13, 2007: Biosphere Expeditions Organizes Survey Trips to Honduras
- July 28 - August 10, 2007: Maldives EcoExpedition


Support Reef Check

Tribute to Eddy Medora
Reef Check Establishes Eddy Medora Memorial Fund

Reef Check Board Member Eddy Medora passed away on October 26, 2006 following a brief respiratory illness. Eddy was a California kid, who began working in earnest in the 7th grade playing lead guitar for “the Renegades”, a garage band that rehearsed in his parent’s home in Pacific Palisades. Later Eddy became the lead guitarist and saxophone player for “the Sunrays”, playing all over West Los Angeles. In 1963 Eddy met Carl and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, who introduced the Renegades to their father, Murray Wilson, who was looking for another group to manage. A string of hits followed, including “I Live for the Sun” and “Andrea,” and were released by Tower Records. The band played (singing in five part harmonies) under several names, including “The Snowmen”, “The Rangers”, and finally “The Sunrays”. For great photos and stories about Eddy’s early life please visit the Sunrays website at http://sunrays718.tripod.com/id1.html and an interview at http://www.earcandymag.com/sunrays.htm

The Sunrays performed with a seemingly endless list of music greats, including the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Neil Sedaka, the Loving Spoonful, the Righteous Brothers and Neil Diamond. They played such venues as the Hollywood Bowl, Disneyland and the Cow Palace, and were featured on every major television show devoted to music during the fifties and sixties, including Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Casey Kasem’s Shebang, and “Hollywood-a-Go-Go”.

Eddy’s first job was working as a designer at Barker Brothers Design Centers, and his clients included Lorne Green of Bonanza fame, Jimmy Durante, Dean Martin and Bob Hope. Eddy’s talents as a painter were developed more recently, and he was in high demand for his portraits in Beverly Hills. His work can be seen at: http://medorapaintings.tripod.com. Eddy was very generous, and donated a number of his paintings to Reef Check auctions, including Reef Rescue ‘06.

Eddy was best known in the entertainment community as the beloved National Marketing Director for the Walt Disney Company, where he worked from 1970 until his retirement in 2000. In his thirty years at Disney Eddy met and befriended all of Hollywood, and his passing has left every one of his friends and family with a heavy heart and endless memories of Eddy’s wit and charm. Eddy’s lively good humor was a constant source of energy and laughter at Board Meetings and events. He was one of the key designers of the “Inhabitants” Las Vegas show and our annual Reef Rescue event. His advice on marketing and sales was invaluable in the development of the Reef Check EcoAction program that includes a variety of books and educational programs.

Eddy will be remembered forever for his irascible humor and for the wonderful stories that were made even richer through the prism of Eddy’s humor and love of life. At the request of his lovely wife Joann and his beautiful children Nicole and Christopher we have established a Memorial Fund that will carry his name and that will be used to fund the Reef Check California program so that we can continue to care for the reefs where Eddy used to play. We will also name a California reef survey site after Eddy and carry out an annual survey there in his name. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, you may use the PayPal button at www.reefcheck.org/news/eddy.asp or simply send your check to Reef Check Foundation, P.O. Box 1057, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 and make a note that your gift is to support the Eddy Medora Memorial Fund.  

Site Spotlight- Isla Natividad, Baja California

By Mary Luna

In August, Reef Check California’s Dr. Craig Shuman and Mary Luna traveled to Isla Natividad, Baja California as part of a training expedition organized by Communidad y Biodiversidad (COBI), an NGO based in Guaymas, Sonora. The trip offered a great opportunity to expand the RC California program into Mexico and to help COBI with their monitoring efforts. Natividad is an island northwest of Tortugas Bay in the Pacific. It is a core area of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, and the fishermen’s cooperative holds exclusive fishing rights to the island. The island’s main commercial species are the red alga Gelidium, red sea urchin, lobster, sea cucumber, turban snail, and pink and green abalone. COBI is working with the cooperative to fully protect over 4% of the fishing grounds, and monitoring data will help decide whether fully-protected reserves should be part of the management strategy after 2011.

Craig and Mary joined COBI members Dr. Andrea Saenz-Arroyo, Luis Bourillon and Jorge Torre in addition to the expert dive safety team of Abraham Mendoza and Gabi Garza. Joining them from the United States was Fiorenza Micheli, a professor from Hopkins Marine Laboratory in Monterey, who brought a wealth of expertise in Marine Protected Area assessment. The students were six fishermen from the Natividad Cooperative: Alonzo (Groso), Abraham (Sapo), Alonzo (Cejas), Juan Carlos, Robert (Toshi), and Mike. The local biologist of the island, Antonio, also took part in the training. This group had recently returned from La Paz where they got scuba certified. Normally the local fishermen dive with hookah, spending an average of 3-4 hours per day underwater, so learning to dive with a scuba tank was a new experience for them. Spending the majority of their lives fishing their island’s reefs, they can tell you almost anything about currents, tides, bottom topography, wind patterns, and local wildlife!

The purpose of the first day of diving was to allow the new scuba divers to become familiar with their new diving gear donated by COBI. Trained in the Sea of Cortez, these guys had never been scuba diving in cold water in their wetsuits. This day also gave Craig and Fiorenza an opportunity to look around the reefs. They must have liked what they saw as they came back from each dive glowing with the talk of large and abundant fish, algae and invertebrates. Back on land we met to officially start the Reef Check California training.

The next day the team practiced the invertebrate and algae surveys at a shallow reef with a dense kelp bed. The visibility was good and the sea life abundant. Kelp bass and sargo were so abundant that you could see them from the surface with a mask and snorkel. Our urchin calipers were rendered useless because the invertebrates were much larger than those found back home. After four days of training, the team set out to dive in the reserve at La Punta Prieta. Reef Check’s work was done; Craig was now diving as an observer and the fishermen were laying transects and conducting the surveys.

While there are many opportunities for improvement (like the potential establishment of renewable energy sources to run the desalinization plant and provide electricity for domestic use, and better waste management practices), the level of participation and commitment of the Natividad community is something that we can learn from. The community has made the decision to set aside no-take marine zones and is investing in the implementation of such protections. Although most are supportive, some members of the community do not support the idea of reserves and it was made clear that the primary challenge will be to achieve five years of protection in the no-take zones. By employing Reef Check California surveys, these divers will be able to track how the reserves change over time relative to control sites to demonstrate if there is a benefit to the reserves. Enforcement is another component that puts this community far ahead of the curve. Noting the critical importance of enforcement of their territorial fishing grounds and reserves, the community spends upwards of US $100,000 per year on full-time surveillance. Two boats equipped with radar patrol the waters of the island every night to seek out poachers.

We wish to thank the Buzos y Pescadores and community of Isla Natividad for their generous hospitality and dedication to marine conservation, as well as COBI for organizing such a wonderful project.

Reef Check Champion- Mike Guardino

This month we are proud to feature Mike Guardino as our Reef Check Champion. He has been an integral part of Reef Check California’s great success during our first year of sampling. Mike is a certified PADI instructor and a teacher at Carmel High School where he has taught a Subtidal Marine Research course to students since 1998. The students learn to identify an extensive list of local marine algae, invertebrates and fish, as well as basic scientific sampling techniques.  At the completion of the course, the students receive an American Academy of Underwater Sciences dive certification which is required by all University dive programs.  Beginning this fall semester, Mike will be teaching his students the California Program sampling protocols. Mike and his students have adopted two survey sites in Carmel Bay and have already successfully completed one. Mike’s students will monitor these sites on a regular basis, thus strengthening the foundation of the statewide sampling network we have begun to build.  Mike loves the ocean and diving and told me, “…there is nothing more beautiful than watching the sun filter through a kelp canopy and nothing more gratifying than sharing that with a young person.”  He also told me that using the Reef Check California protocols makes him feel optimistic that the efforts of his class may eventually help establish more Marine Protected Areas and improve marine management. Mike is an incredible asset and has brought an amazing wealth of knowledge and experience to the Reef Check Team. We look forward to continuing to work with Mike and supporting his class’ efforts. Thanks Mike!!!

Reef Check News

New Staff at Reef Check Headquarters

Jennifer Pietro - Director of Development
Jennifer Pietro is the Director of Development for Reef Check. Ms. Pietro is an experienced executive, with over twenty-five years of experience in private sector marketing and nonprofit administration, development and public relations. She received her Master of Science degree in Management from Lesley College Graduate School, completed her Internship at Harvard Business School, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley with Phi Beta Kappa honors. She has held senior management and development positions at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Fulfillment Fund, Hathaway Children and Family Services, and the Malibu Foundation for Youth and Families, as well as in private sector marketing for Energy and Environmental Engineering, Inc. She is a certified NAUI Open Water Scuba Diver since 1982 and has traveled extensively, diving recreationally throughout the South Pacific, the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

Cori Kane - Program Manager

Cori Kane is the Program Manager for Reef Check’s new EcoAction program. Cori received her Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Biology in 2003 and a Master’s degree in Marine Ecology in 2006 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her residence in Santa Barbara, Cori gained extensive experience in both temperate and tropical marine ecology. Cori’s academic research has ranged from examining the effects of sedimentation on temperate sea anemones to evaluating population dynamics of coral reef fish. Cori has spent the past five summers conducting research in Moorea, French Polynesia and has utilized her free time traveling throughout the South Pacific.



Reef Check To Launch Redesigned Website
Reef Check will soon be re-launching www.ReefCheck.org with an all-new design and features including a discussion forum, store, and photo and video galleries. There will also be information about the new EcoAction program and country pages for Reef Check teams to post their news, reports, events, and photos. Following the launch, we will be upgrading the WRAS (Web Reef Advisory System) database on the web.

First EcoAction Training of Trainers Held in Mexico
By Reef Check Program Manager Cori Kane

Reef Check has officially launched our new EcoAction program with an October training in Cozumel, Mexico, organized by RC Mexico Coordinator Gabriela Nava and supported by the ICRAN-MAR project.  For any new Reef Checkers, the EcoAction program is a combination of products and courses that enable anyone interested in coral reefs to learn more about these reefs and how to conserve them.  One of the main benefits of this program is that proceeds generated from these products go directly to local Reef Check teams so they can continue monitoring our coral reefs!

In this training, we brought together old Reef Check friends as well as some new ones and had a blast catching up and diving into our EcoAction program.  Over the course of 3 days and a few margaritas (a must while in Mexico), we got some great feedback on fine-tuning the training materials.  After spending two days in the classroom we practiced our monitoring skills while diving in Cozumel’s amazing marine park.  A great activity for our participants included an underwater identification quiz, one of the new components in our EcoDiver course.  Although grumpy at first (it had been more than 20 years since some of our participants had taken any sort of exam), the quiz was a fun and successful way to test our underwater knowledge and everybody passed with flying colors!

As a result of this training, we now have over 15 certified training instructors in locations ranging from Japan to Jamaica, and are moving full speed ahead to produce more trainers.  We have already had three subsequent trainings of trainers in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for divemasters and instructors to further the EcoAction program.  Results have been great and many dive shops are now selling Reef Check EcoAction products and courses, including Paradise Dive in Cozumel, the island’s largest dive shop!   Check the Mark Your Calendars section for scheduled trainings in 2007, and check the website as trainings are constantly being added to the list.  For more information, contact us at ecoaction@reefcheck.org.

Reef Check Inhabitants Show in Las Vegas A Big Hit
In September, Chameleon Studios in Las Vegas hosted a packed crowd of dance and ocean enthusiasts to see Inhabitants, a unique multimedia dance show created especially for Reef Check, and featuring dancers from the Celine Dion Show and the Nevada Ballet Theater. The dancers generously donated their time to rehearse and participate in the one-night only show. Spearheading the effort was Paolo Santos, a multimedia artist and his wife Caroline Sicard, shown here in Tahiti. Paolo worked with internationally renowned musicians and composers Claude Lemay, Yves Frulla, and Marc Langis to create the score, while also developing all the video components. Caroline, a dancer with the Celine Dion Show, worked with Elijah Brown, Greg Sample, Paco Villalta, Eboni Adams, Bruce Steivel, Sonia Dawkins, Francesca Dumas and Mark Swanheart to develop the choreography.

The result was a spectacular show and a very enthusiastic crowd. Video clips and photos from the night can be viewed online at http://www.reefcheck.org/events/inhabitants/inhabitants.asp. Plans are already being made to incorporate elements of the show into future Reef Check events. Special thanks to all the participants, Chameleon Studios, and sponsor Oronoco Rum which donated a mojito bar for the night!

California Corner

By RC California Director, Dr. Craig Shuman

It is hard for me to believe that our first official field season is behind us. In eighteen short months (trust me, they flew by) we applied our tropical model of community monitoring to the temperate waters of California.  We designed, peer reviewed, and field tested the Reef Check California monitoring protocol, developed a comprehensive set of training and testing materials, and completed dozens of public presentations and outreach events. We successfully completed seven training workshops and have certified upwards of 70 volunteer divers from Humboldt County to Palm Springs to participate in Reef Check California surveys.

Under Cyndi Dawson’s fearless leadership, the central coast teams surveyed 12 sites in preparation for the implementation of the new network of marine reserves approved by the California Fish and Game Commission on August 15, 2006 (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/MRD/mlpa/commissiondocs.html).  Not to be outdone, the teams in southern California completed surveys of 8 sites in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties for a total of 20 new survey sites in our first year!!! 

Another exciting development is the inclusion of several new partners into the Reef Check California network.  We wish to welcome the dive programs of Humboldt State University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Carmel High School, Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, the University of California Santa Barbara Research Experience and Education Facility, and the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific as our first institutional partners to join the monitoring network.  Each of these groups has completed at least one Reef Check California survey and/or training and many will be offering the course to their divers on an ongoing basis.  Finally, I am pleased to announce that our first California brochure has been printed.  Thanks to the generous folks at Quiksilver, our brochure will help to spread the word about our program.

The dive season is winding down which will give us a much needed break from field work to prepare for 2007.  New additions for next year will include trainings throughout the state (northern and southern California), recertification protocols for Reef Check California certified divers, and a new and improved website that will include online training and testing materials and a forum for divers to stay connected and organize surveys.  Most exciting to me will be the opportunity to analyze our first year’s dataset and map out potential survey locations throughout the entire state.

On the funding side, I am pleased to announce that we have received start-up funds to expand the program into southern California and a grant from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund to expand the program into northern California.  Although foundation grants help us immensely, it is your support through our 1000 Diver Campaign that remains the heart and soul of the program.  Please remember to renew your memberships or give the gift of a Reef Check membership to your friends and family this holiday season.

Reef Check Teams in Action

Reef Check Philippines Hosts “Visions of the Reef” to Garner Support for Local Reefs

On September 15, Reef Check Philippines organized "Visions of the Reef", a fundraising photo and film exhibit held at the Rockwell Loft in Manila. The event aimed to increase public awareness of the dazzling beauty of the country’s coral reefs and the need to protect them, and to raise funds for Reef Check’s activities such as training divers and fishermen to monitor reef health and the establishment of marine protected areas.

“Visions of the Reef” featured the stunning and award-winning photos of underwater photographer Gutsy Tuason and the beautiful footage from cinematographers Marissa Floirendo and Carina Escudero. Ballet Philippines, Cynthia Alexander and Pinikpikan provided musical performances. Dr. Domingo Ochavillo, Executive Director of Reef Check Philippines, gave an overview of Reef Check activities to conserve coral reefs. The guest speaker, Mr. Federico Lopez, President of First Gen, spoke eloquently on the need for corporate responsibility for marine conservation especially since the Philippines sits at the global center of coral reef biodiversity. The event was hosted by celebrity Paolo Abrera and actress-model Angel Aquino, and presenters included Studio 23, Conservation International Sulu-Sulawesi Conservation Program, DHL, Jewelmer, Aquamundo, First Philippine Conservation Inc., Newsbreak, Hewlett Packard, Manila Bulletin, The Radio Partners Inc., and Campaigns Social Response. Other sponsors included Sea Air, TechnoMarine, Tris-Star, Direct Aquatic, Cuervo, CPKelco, Davao Pearl Farm Resort, El Nido Resorts, Solana Bezo Resort, Alegre Beach Resort, Ocean Adventure, Captn Gregg's Resort, Taal Lake Yatch Club, Oceana Resort and Garden Spa.

The celebrities and public figures who lent their time for the event’s cause included Margie Moran-Floirendo, Richard Guttierez, Amanda Griffin and the environmental policy senator Jamby Madrigal.


Photos (from left): Special celebrity hosts, Angel Aquino and Paolo Abrera; Underwater cinematographer Carina Escudero and Federico Lopez, President of First Gen; Underwater cinematographer Marissa Floirendo; Underwater photographer Gutsy Tuason

Reef Check Australia Partners with Australian Government
Reef Check Australia has recently formed a new partnership with Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility who will provide A$150,000 each year for the next 4 years. These funds will assist Reef Check in securing a sustainable base and will employ Jos Hill (Director), Roger Beeden (Marketing and Communications Manager) and new staff member, Adrian Turnbull (Project Coordinator) to take Reef Check Australia to the next level. New projects will involve recreational fishermen and fishing groups in monitoring fish stocks and habitats in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, expanding Reef Check activities from Townsville to Cairns, Airlie Beach/Mackay and Rockhampton, as well as provide opportunities for Indigenous communities in north Queensland to assist with monitoring their sea country. For more information, visit www.reefcheckaustralia.org

Reef Check and Earthwatch Join Forces for Thailand Expeditions
By Kim Obermeyer

Reef Check Thailand and the Earthwatch Institute recently joined forces to run a ten day training and survey expedition in the southern Gulf of Thailand.  This particular expedition was one of nine scheduled in 2006. Six marine resource professionals from Southeast Asia were awarded scholarships by Earthwatch under the Asian Conservation Training program to take part in Reef Check’s Thailand project.  The six included Roxie Diaz (Philippines), Daquioag Maricar (Philippines), Zarena Mercado (Philippines), Arief Setyanto (Indonesia), Cheryl Singh (Malaysia), and Hoang Nguyen (Vietnam). Kim Obermeyer, country coordinator for Reef Check Thailand, led the expedition starting with a training session in the survey method. Several reefs within the Mu Koh Chumphon National Marine Park were surveyed and the team participated in a workshop and many stimulating discussions on the topic of Marine Protected Areas in Southeast Asia. The diverse group shared their experiences with marine conservation in their respective countries. Many thanks to Earthwatch, HSBC, Kim Obermeyer, as well as Reef Check Europe coordinator Georg Heiss who participated in earlier expeditions.

If you are interested in joining one of the 2007 Thailand expeditions already scheduled, visit http://www.earthwatch.org/site/pp2.asp?c=dsJSK6PFJnH&b=1170773 for more information and booking details.

Monitoring South Sinai’s Coral Reefs
by Dr. Alexander Keck and Christian Alter; Red Sea Environmental Centre (Dahab, South Sinai, Egypt)

Reef scientists at the Red Sea Environmental Centre (RSEC) in Dahab (South Sinai, Gulf of Aqaba), are currently observing a human impact on the reefs of Dahab of apparently substantial magnitude. Their observations are based on sightings from numerous dives, snorkelling transects and near-shore inspections and reveal almost daily violations of National Parks' regulations. Frequent violations include net and line fishing within reef areas, mechanical coral damage by fishermen as well as recreational snorkelers and divers, and solid waste pollution. Due to these sightings, the scientists felt a pressing need for thorough documentation of the overall health status of the coral reefs and their linked habitats.

With approval from the National Parks of Egypt (under the Ministry of Environmental Affairs), and in collaboration with Reef Check Europe and Egypt, the RSEC has designed a reef monitoring programme based on an extension of the standard Reef Check procedure. This extended Reef Check protocol, the ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’, aims at a significantly higher resolution of both qualitative and quantitative information of selected reef areas. In short, the surveys of fishes and invertebrates include additional indicator species, and the substrate survey offers a diversification of over 30 categories. A fourth survey on coral damage provides a comprehensive data set on coral injuries produced by natural causes (predation by coral-feeders) as well as human impacts (breakage and abrasion).

It is clear that such a monitoring effort demands excellent skills from the volunteers. There are some eligibility criteria, such as diving experience and adequate biological knowledge. Experience from former participation in Reef Check surveys will add to one’s qualification, but is not a must. Training is provided and the identification skills of each participant are tested before the start of the surveys to ensure success of the monitoring campaign and the reliability of the results.

The ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’ will not only provide core data for the global Reef Check database, but  is particularly intended to serve as a basic tool in conservation management of the South Sinai coastal environment. The data will provide greater detail, specificity and validity for interpretation, better detectability of changes in reef health and thus assist resource managers of the protected areas in design and implementation of environmental action plans. The procedures of the ‘Dahab Reef Monitoring’ are by no means restricted to Dahab and its surroundings, but may well be applied to other reef sites both along the Gulf of Aqaba and further sites along Egyptian Red Sea shores. For information or to find out how you can help: office.dahab@redsea-ec.org

Reef Check 2006 in the Negril Marine Park, Jamaica
By Malden Miller

As part of an effort to improve coral reef monitoring and reporting on the status of coral reefs in Jamaica, a team of scientists and volunteers led by the Caribbean Coastal Data Centre, Centre for Marine Sciences, University of the West Indies visited Negril, Jamaica on September 23-24 and collected data from reef sites at Bloody Bay, Ireland Pen, Sandy Cay, Grand Lido, Little Bay and El Punto de Negrilo within the Negril Marine Park, located on the western tip of the island of Jamaica. Two diving teams of nine individuals each conducted the monitoring. The team members were drawn from a number of organizations based in Jamaica, and worked in close collaboration with the staff of the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society (NCRPS), an NGO responsible for the management of the Negril Marine Park. Peace Corps Volunteers were also trained during the period. All team members participated in data collection and surveys were conducted throughout the weekend, involving 6 sites at two depths.

Preliminary data analyses indicated a range of coral cover from a high of approximately 23% at El Punto de Negrilo to a low of 1% at Sandy Cay. Cover by Nutrient Indicator Algae (NIA) ranged from 61% at the El Punto de Negrilo shallow site to a low of 15% at the Little Bay deep site. Bloody Bay, the best reef site selected, had a hard coral cover of 14% at the shallow site and a NIA percentage of 24% and 40% at shallow and deep sites, respectively. The revision in the Reef Check methodology to include all algae in the NIA category has resulted in a dramatic increase in NIA readings for Bloody Bay.

Fish populations were low at all sites. Fish from the Haemulidae (Grunts) family were observed more often than other families, followed by fish from the Lutjanidae (Snapper) family. At Bloody Bay, the fish moved towards the diver suggesting that there was fish feeding activity in the area. Due to the high incidence of spear fishing in Jamaica, fish generally move away from divers.

Invertebrates, such as urchins and gorgonians, were generally more abundant at sites such as Bloody Bay. Assessment of impacts on the reefs due to anchor damage, trash, and destructive fishing practices such as dynamite revealed generally low impacts. All data has been submitted and will be added to the global database.

Many thanks to the following hotels
in Negril who provided accommodations: Negril Tree House, Merrils II, Travellers and Rayon Beach Resorts, and the dive gear and air fills provided by University Sub-Aqua Club, NCRPS, Couples Negril and local dive shop SunDivers.

Coral Reef Impacts of the 2005 Caribbean Bleaching Event

Coral Reef Impacts of the 2005 Caribbean Bleaching Event
By Reef Check Program Manager Cori Kane

Hurricanes, El Niño, disease outbreaks, bleaching and other stressors caused by human impacts have increased coral mortality throughout the world in the past 25 years.  Although there are many factors responsible for coral mortality, bleaching has been regarded as the major agent of change responsible in both the widespread mortality of corals as well as changes in coral reef community structures.  Large-scale bleaching is predominantly triggered by elevations in sea surface temperatures and in recent years there have been unprecedented increases in sea surface temperatures in many areas of the tropical oceans. 

In 2005 a major coral bleaching event occurred in the Caribbean Sea, on par with some of the largest bleaching events on record.  In addition to scheduled surveys, after the initial onset of bleaching, Reef Check teams were deployed to conduct surveys and record the potential effects of the major bleaching event.  Over 185 Reef Check surveys were conducted between January 2004 and June 2006 in 16 different countries and territories within the Caribbean region before, during and after the bleaching event. As a result, Reef Check has been able to determine the extent of coral bleaching and mortality in the Caribbean Sea. 

On a Caribbean-wide basis, the effects of the 2005 bleaching event were significant.  The percentage of bleached corals per 100m2 of reef ranged from 2 to 62%.  Bleaching occurred from depths of 2 to 12 meters, indicating that even mid-depth corals were affected by the increased sea surface temperatures.  One of the biggest concerns regarding coral bleaching events is coral mortality.  Corals have the ability to survive after becoming bleached, but if the stress that causes bleaching occurs for too long or is too intense, these corals will eventually die.  Of the corals surveyed, mortality ranged from 4 to 15% Caribbean-wide. 

While overall bleaching was high (up to 62% overall with some reefs experiencing 100%), mortality was relatively low, ranging from 4 to 15% as a result of the 2005 Caribbean bleaching event.  Proposed mechanisms may depend on the resiliency of the coral species themselves.  Massive or mounding corals may be less susceptible to the effects of bleaching than branching corals.  As a result, if major bleaching events continue to occur, there could be potential shifts in dominant corals to those that are best able to resist bleaching and subsequent mortality.  This can be detected already in different parts of the world.  By contrast, the 1998 Indo-Pacific event resulted in approximately 95% mortality in corals at some locations.  Caribbean reefs are dominated by massive corals and have experienced lower mortality rates than those observed in the Indo-Pacific. 

As a result of the hard work and numerous surveys conducted by Reef Check teams throughout the Caribbean, we have been able to successfully evaluate the effects of the 2005 bleaching event.  The data received from these teams have been provided to groups such as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) for further analysis and publication.  Detailed results have also been presented at the 3rd annual International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium, which was held in Cozumel in October.

We greatly appreciate the efforts of teams in the following countries for their extra surveying efforts: the Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Florida, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands Antilles, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the US Virgin Islands.  Without teams like these Reef Check could not achieve its primary goal: to reverse the coral reef crisis and to provide ecologically sound and financially sustainable solutions for local communities worldwide.

Before = January 2004 to August 2005. During = August thru December 2005. After = January to May 2006.

Mark Your Calendars

Reef Check Hawai’i’s Luau With The Stars: December 11, 2006

Please join us for a very special private event on December 11th, beachside at the Sheraton Waikiki on the island of Oahu for Reef Check Hawaii's Luau Under the Stars. Hawai’i is home to 86% of the United States’ coral reefs. Your donation will help Reef Check Hawai’i monitor and conserve these critical habitats.  

The glittering Waikiki fundraiser will be co-hosted by Hawaii's own Kelly Hu
whose starring roles include Scorpion King and X2, and Carl Lewis, winner of 9 Olympic Gold Medals who is training Kelly for the Honolulu Marathon in a Run For The Reefs. You can sponsor Kelly at http://www.active.com/donate/ReefCheckHawaii

Also in attendance will be 8-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater, Maggie Q, Christian Campbell, Mario Lopez, and Jason Scott Lee. The luau includes a gourmet dinner, silent auction, and entertainment by MAKANA.
Mahalo for your support - we look forward to welcoming you to Hawai’i! Visit www.reefcheckhawaii.org or call 808-531-7409 for details.


Reef Check EcoAction Training of Trainers Schedule

These EcoAction Training courses are intended for divemasters, instructors, researchers, etc who are interested in learning how to train and sell our EcoAction program. Please contact Cori Kane (ecoaction@reefcheck.org) or the coordinator below for more information.

Country Date Location Coordinator Contact
California, USA Jan 13-14 2007 Los Angeles Cori Kane ecoaction@reefcheck.org
Germany Jan 13-14 2007 Georg Heiss georg.heiss@reefcheck.org
Philippines Jan 13-15 2007 Cebu Stuart Green stuartg@reefcheck.org
Australia Jan 22-23 2007 Townsville Jos Hill jos@reefcheck.org
Dominican Republic Feb 3-5 2007 Bayahibe Ruben Torres, 
Tasha Gough
ruben@reefcheck.org; tasha@reefcheckdr.org
Mexico Feb 14-16 2007 Mahaual Gaby Nava gnavam@yahoo.com
Indonesia Feb 15-17 2007 Bali Naneng Setiasih nsetiasih@reefcheck.org
Mexico May 16-18 2007 Cozumel Gaby Nava gnavam@yahoo.com
Dominica May 2007 Arun Madisetti ssmrdominica@hotmail.com

Biosphere Expeditions Organizes Survey Trips to Honduras: March 18-30 & April 1-13, 2007
Biosphere Expeditions promotes sustainable conservation of the planet’s wildlife by involving the public in real hands-on wildlife research and conservation expeditions alongside scientists who are at the forefront of conservation work. In Honduras, Biosphere Expeditions is surveying the coral reefs of the Cayos Cochinos marine protected area, in the Bay Island Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, and will be employing the Reef Check survey protocols and adding the data to Reef Check’s global database.

Expedition members must be at least PADI Open Water (or equivalent) scuba certified to take part in this expedition but will be trained in diving and survey techniques. Additional training for Reef Check certification is available for those keen on seizing the opportunity in this great locale. The base is the well-equipped Honduras Coral Reef Foundation scientific station on a small coral cay island accessible only to research personnel; accommodation is in comfortable, spacious wooden bungalow cabins by the beach with a lounge, toilets and showers.

The Cayos Cochinos form part of the world’s second largest barrier reef system, known as the Meso-American Barrier Reef, and have been identified as one of the key sections of the barrier reef system to preserve. Data from this survey will be compared to that of other parts of the Meso-American Barrier Reef System and to reefs worldwide. For more information contact Erin McCloskey at northamerica@biosphere-expeditions.org or call toll free (800) 407-5761. See www.biosphere-expeditions.org/honduras for more details.

Maldives EcoExpedition: July 28 - August 10, 2007

Maldives Scuba Tours has been working with the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) to carry out liveaboard Reef Check surveys since 2005. They carry out two-week trips in the central atolls of the Maldives twice a year, where the dive guides and boat crew are joined by a Reef Check Team Leader from the UK sent by MCS.

The trip encompasses Reef Check training and at least two sites are surveyed for Reef Check per year. In January and June/July 2005, the trip also used the International Society of Coral Reefs post-tsunami survey technique to record damage to the Maldives reefs, and set up permanent monitoring stations. Survey dives in 2005 recorded little damage from the tsunami, however, many of the inner reefs appear to still be struggling to fully recover from bleaching damage in 1998. The fish populations appear healthy with a large abundance of coral trout, snapper and parrotfish. Manta rays and whale sharks are also recorded on these trips.

The next survey trip is in January 2007, and the following one (with spaces available) will be from July 28th to August 10th 2007. You can book now at: http://www.scubascuba.com/
Visit
www.mcsuk.org/mcsaction/diverspages/coral+reef+surveys+with+mcs for more information.

Visit our site for further information and to download reports: http://www.mcsuk.org/mcsaction/diverspages/coral+reef+surveys+with+mcs

Support Reef Check

Pacific Underwater Guide with Slate & Pencil
(available in January)   $24.95*    Quantity _________ 

Looking to make the most of your diving and snorkeling experience? Then take the Reef Check Underwater guide with you. More than just a standard fish ID sheet, the RC Underwater Field guide has photos and key facts on over 50 different reef species, allowing you to fully explore and understand life on the world’s coral reefs. It’s like taking a marine biologist with you on every dive. There is also a slate and pencil so you can record what you see and contribute valuable data on the health of the world’s coral reefs. Order yours today. Your diving will never be the same.

Reef Check Adventures   $9.95*    Quantity _________
This exciting and challenging activity book will bring kids 7-12 the dazzling and diverse world of coral reefs!



Reef Check Hats
 
  $15*     Quantity  ________   



* Please include $2.00 shipping & handling for the 1st item, 50 cents each additional item

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Edit & Design: Jenny Mihaly; Contributing writers: Cyndi Dawson, Gregor Hodgson, Cori Kane, Mary Luna, Jenny Mihaly, Jennifer Pietro, and Craig Shuman

Reef Check: Saving Reefs Worldwide
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 The Reef Check Foundation
PO Box 1057
17575 Pacific Coast Highway
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-1057 USA
1-310-230-2371 (phone)   1-310-230-2376 (fax)
rcinfo@reefcheck.org

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