|The Transect Line - February 2009|
|Vote For Your Favorite Video and Win!|
| Voting is now open for Reef Check's Kids International Singing Contest on Video featuring the "Year of the Reef” song. Be sure to visit the contest page to vote for your favorite video before the voting period ends on March 31st! 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 videos. 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
Reef Check California held its second annual Staff/Instructor Retreat at Catalina Island this month. We were graciously hosted by our partner Guided Discoveries at their Catalina Island Marine Institute, located a couple miles west of Avalon. We had 12 attendees from all over the state, with the largest contingent coming from northern California. The three-day retreat focused on calibrating all RCCA Instructors to ensure our counting techniques were in tip-top shape. As the program has continued to grow, we now have several academic institutions that are teaching our protocols without RCCA staff involvement. This is an exciting development and is allowing RCCA to reach and engage even more people across the state. In addition to completing calibration both inside the classroom and out in the field, the attendees also generated some important ideas that will help us guide RCCA in the future. It was a great opportunity to have people in a single location and ensure we translate volunteer ideas into future plans.
Reminder: We have put the final touches on the 2009 Training Schedule. Spread the word and get your friends and neighbors involved! 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. This year, we are also piloting a project that can allow non-divers to take the course as well. If you are a non-diver, prefer warm waters, or have a friend or family member who would like to be more involved, please contact email@example.com for details, requirements, and pricing.
Celebrate the new administration in Washington and make a tax-deductable donation to support Reef Check California. With some strong signals coming out of Washington that science will be the driving force for environmental decisions in the future, obtaining high quality data on California rocky reef ecosystems is an urgent priority. We continue to be on the front lines of improving marine management in California and need your support! So if you aren’t a member, please join us.
|Reef Check Baja Update: Join Us on Our Expedition to Isla Natividad!|
|By Reef Check Assistant Program Manager Mary Luna
Once in Baja, and traveling with an open heart and mind, it is not difficult to imagine why tales of the colonization describe the natives as the “happiest people on earth.” Historically, Baja has enjoyed a low population and development rate due in part to the dry landscape and limited supply of fresh water. It is this relatively unspoiled beauty, the desert meeting the sea, the starry sky unclouded by blinding city lights, the mile after mile of open surf breaks, and abundance of breathtaking kayak-snorkel-dive spots, that take the traveler back to their adventurous, primordial self. Despite the rapid development of Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Ensenada northwards, the traveler may be delighted to learn that the largest total area of national park in Mexico (Areas Naturales Protegidas) is found in Baja. Yet the same forces that drive visitors to Baja also threaten the very attributes that make it so desirable. There, as in many other places in the world, the solution is not to stop socioeconomic development, but to direct it in such a way that it preserves nature and generates an educated population of locals and visitors. Ultimately, it is for the delight of every human to know that there still exist some pristine places in Baja that one can visit in body or spirit.
|Reef Check Teams in Action|
|Montserrat Reef Check Survey To Kick Off Summer Dive Festival
by Reef Check Montserrat Coordinator James Hewlett
James Hewlett, Reef Check Coordinator for Montserrat, West Indies and a resident of New York, was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project’s primary focus is to develop a model for integrating project-based learning into community college science curricula. The project involves a collaboration of four environmental research organizations (Reef Check, Braddock Bay Raptor Research, The Nevis Biodiversity Project, and The Terramar Foundation), five community colleges (Finger Lakes CC, Monroe CC, Genesee CC, Tompkins-Cortland CC, and Delaware Technical and CC), two four-year schools (Rochester Institute of Technology, Harvard University), three currently funded NSF programs (Research Integrating Molecular and Environmental Science, National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, Taking Delaware's Biotechnology Education to the Next Level), and a state government agency (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation).
The model being tested includes a variety of teaching components, and features regular Reef Check survey work in Montserrat and Nevis, W.I. over the next three years. Included in the model is the idea that incorporating undergraduates in Reef Check surveys not only immerses them in a learning activity that is impossible to replicate in a classroom, but engages them on a scientific level where questions lead to hypothesis testing. In a recent example, two students participating in an invertebrate survey observed a patch of reef that appeared to contain an unusually high level of sponge diversity. This patch was located very near a sunken barge. The students questioned if the disturbance from the barge was related to their observation. This curiosity turned into an undergraduate research project that continues under the grant program.
The project also highlights how Reef Check Coordinators can work together with local governments to create synergy. Montserrat faces many challenges with respect to tourism and economic sustainability. In July 1995, the Soufriere Hills Volcano woke up after a long slumber. Over the next few years, pyroclastic flows buried the capital city of Plymouth and the international airport. Following mass evacuations, the population relocated to the north end of the island. More than half of the island still remains in an exclusion zone due to regular volcanic activity that continues to pound the southern end of the island. Tourism has all but disappeared on the island, and the economy is extremely fragile as the proud Montserratians work to rebuild a sustainable community . . .
|OceansWatch Brings Reef Check to Papua New Guinea
by Jane Pares of OceansWatch
OceansWatch has partnered with Reef Check to offer training and surveys in the western Pacific.
Magic Roundabout, OceansWatch lead boat, spent August - October 2008 in Papua New Guinea successfully building relationships with coastal communities and government departments, visiting schools, raising awareness of marine issues, and conducting Reef Check surveys. The team included Chris Bone, Irene Llabres-Pohl, Leila Cara and Jeges Nuttall.
The OceansWatch team was fortunate to be briefed by John Aini about their next port of call, Nonovaul Island, where a marine reserve has been in place for three years. During the survey at the reserve, the team was very pleased to note several species like the Barramundi Cod, which are becoming rarer in the Pacific. A site outside the reserve was also surveyed and the lack of Reef Check indicator species was noted, even though the reef itself had a lot of healthy coral. The team was helped on this survey by Keithson, from Moussau Island in the St Matthias group, where the villagers are Seventh Day Adventists and so do not harvest fish for personal consumption. A member of the Nonovaul Fisheries Management Committee also helped, resourcefully using a mask made from an old inner tube, discarded glass, and a large pipe clip!
|Mark Your Calendars|
| Reef Check EcoExpeditions
Join one of Reef Check’s many EcoExpeditions and make your diving count! Reef Check partners with expedition groups all over the world to create exciting and valuable research expeditions to monitor coral reefs. Expeditions are tailored to Reef Check certified and non-certified divers alike, so dive in to help conserve the world’s reefs!
Trips to six exotic coral reef destinations are scheduled for 2009:
Puerto Galera, Philippines
Cayos Cochinos, Honduras
Andaman Sea, Thailand
Tioman Island, Malaysia