Monitoring Instruction

Reef Check Tropical Program

Four types of data are recorded and are later transferred to standard Reef Check Data Forms (see Excel files below). The three transect surveys are made along the same transect line.

1) Site Description. Anecdotal, observational, historical, location and other socioeconomic data should be recorded on the Site Description Form. These data are extremely important when we interpret global correlations.

2) Fish belt transect. Four 5 m wide (centered on the transect line) by 20 m long segments are sampled for fish species typically targeted by fishermen, aquarium collectors and others. Fish seen up to 5 m above the line are included. This is the first survey to be performed.

3) Invertebrate belt transect. The same four 5 m wide by 20 m long segments as used for the fish belt transect are sampled for invertebrate species typically targeted as food species or collected as curios. Reef impacts are also counted along this line.

4) Substrate line transect. The same transect line as the fish and invertebrate belt transects is used, but this time, points are sampled at each 0.5 m interval along the tape to determine the substrate types on the reef.

Reef Check surveys may be replicated, as needed depending on the purpose of the monitoring. Three to five surveys on one reef will provide results useful for management.

All teams should be registered with Reef Check Headquarters prior to collecting data. This can be done by filling out the online Team Registration Form. In addition, all data collectors should be certified Reef Check EcoDivers.

Data sheets are available to download below. A hard copy of the Instruction Manual can be purchased through the Sea Store. Electronic copies of the manual and other instruction materials (PowerPoints, identification tests) are available through the EcoDiver program.

Presented below is a step-by-step procedure for submitting data to Reef Check Headquarters.

Data Checking

The Team Scientist (TS) is responsible for data checking, analysis and submission of data. The team members should assist in this work. Data checking is a critically important part of Reef Check.

The first level of data checking is performed at the site immediately following the dive. The second level of data checking is for the TS to compare the Excel spreadsheet input with the original data. This should be done independently by both the person who inputs the data into the spreadsheet and a second person. We will perform a third error check at Headquarters. Please use the prepared Excel spreadsheets for submission of data.

The advantage of the prepared Excel data forms is that we have built-in macros to calculate the mean, standard deviation and totals for parameters of interest. All you need to do is to fill in the raw data, and the calculations will be made automatically.

Data Sheets

Please select and complete the appropriate data sheet for your region. We have developed Microsoft Excel* data sheets to be used in the field as well as formatted sheets for your computer when you input your data to send to Headquarters.

This allows 1) a quick check to see that the spreadsheets were filled in correctly and 2) to discuss the results with your team.

Simply fill in the spreadsheets, remembering to place zeros where no organisms were recorded. If a section was not surveyed, please indicate this in the 'Comments' section. Then e-mail the file to as an attachment.

* Please note that all Microsoft Excel Sheets have been developed using Office 2007. If you have problems downloading these files, please email us and we would be more than happy to send the files over electronically.

If you have trouble sending the files, please contact Headquarters

Core methods data entry

We cannot stress enough the importance of checking the data as described in the Reef Check instructions. It is crucial that all data are checked and double-checked by a second person

Sending us the results

You should email the Excel files as attachments to our address at Alternatively, mail us a disk with the results. If all else fails, fax or mail the hard copy.

For each site, you should send us:

1 Site Description file
1 Fish/Inverts Belt Transect file
1 Substrate Line Transect file
Total of 3 files

Click here for funding and PR information for your team