Reef Check carried out the first global survey of coral reefs in 1997. The results provided the first scientific evidence of the global extent of the coral reef crisis. Subsequent surveys of hundreds of reefs by thousands of volunteer divers each year have documented a dramatic decline in coral reef health as reported in scientific journals such as "Science," and the annual book "Status of Coral Reefs of the World." In January 2000, Reef Check was awarded the Global Environmental Prize by CMAS, the World Underwater Federation. Reef Check has also helped raise public awareness about the coral reef crisis through reports in national and international news media such as BBC, CNN, New York Times and USA Today, thus building public support for reef conservation. Clear evidence of widespread damage to reefs from overfishing, pollution and coral bleaching due to global warming has underscored the need for a permanent commitment to a global community-based program. Reef Check was selected by the United Nations (UNEP, UNDP and UNESCO) to provide one solution to the global reef crisis by bringing together government staff, the private sector and environmental groups and empowering them to work together towards successful and sustainable reef management. In 2002, Reef Check released The Global Coral Reef Crisis: Trends and Solutions 1997-2001, a report summarizing the first 5 years of Reef Check data.
RC teams continue to monitor coral reefs globally and can be used as an early warning system for mass changes in our reef systems. Reef Check teams provided a valuable ground truthing mechanism for the high sea surface temperatures observed by satellites during the 1997-98 El Nino. RC teams reported coral bleaching in all oceans (except the Red Sea) and high mortality in the Indian Ocean and parts of SE Asia.
St Andrews Prize for the Environment
In 2014, Reef Check was named one of three finalists for the prestigious St Andrews Prize for the Environment. The Prize is a joint environmental initiative by the University of St Andrews in Scotland and independent exploration and production company ConocoPhillips, which aims to find practical solutions to environmental challenges from around the globe.
In 2012, Reef Check won the global Katerva Award for Ecosystem Conservation for its innovative citizen scientist reef monitoring and conservation work. The Katerva Award is billed as the Nobel Prize in sustainability, where "the best ideas on the planet are identified, refined and accelerated for global impact."
Reef Check received a Chevron Conservation Award in 2001 for showing that science and conservation can benefit from the motivation and skills of people at the community level. Reef Check was chosen for its proven skills in finding creative and practical solutions to difficult conservation challenges and for their ability to work with widely divergent organizations, achieve consensus, and bring about innovative and effective resolutions to complex environmental issues.
United States Coral Reef Task Force
Reef Check was awarded the 2001 Coral Reef Task Force Award for the successful creation and implementation of a global, community-based coral reef monitoring program that increases public understanding of the value of coral reefs and the need to protect them. For the complete story, please visit NOAA News Online (Story 835)
Management success examples:
Soufriere, St Lucia -- Marine Management Authority uses Reef Check to demonstrate the value of the marine protected area (MPA) for fish
Gilutongan Island, Cebu, Philippines – local barrio decides to set up MPA after Reef Check participation
Recife, Brazil – local government decides to set up children's reef education center after Reef Check shows reef damage
Hainan, PRC – government sets up provincial monitoring and management program following Reef Check training