|The Transect Line - November 2011||Newsletter Archive|
|Coral Rehabilitation in Malaysia|
|By Aaron Tam, Reef Check Malaysia
In November 2010, Reef Check Malaysia and YTL hotels embarked upon a coral transplantation method that has never been attempted before in Malaysia with the help of UKM scientist, Kee Alfian. The method involves collecting coral fragments and “planting” them in a nursery to allow them to stabilise and grow before final transplant. The key to our approach is to actively maintain the nurseries while the coral transplants are stabilising, keeping them free of silt and algae. In this way, mortality will be reduced, resulting in a more effective rehabilitation.
|How do RC California Data Compare to Data from Academic Monitoring Programs?|
By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald
|Reef Check California Update|
|By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald
We are almost at the end of another successful survey season in California. This month we will complete our sixth year of surveys and will have expanded our monitoring network to over 80 sites statewide. In October, we completed our sites in Central California where we did 22 surveys and monitored every established site and added a site in San Luis Obispo. This remarkable task was only possible due to our committed team of volunteers in this region, including the long-time volunteers that have taken leadership and surveyed all of our shore-based sites in Monterey without the need for RCCA staff to be present at the surveys. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteer leaders for this amazing feat! With their initiative we will be able to grow the program in the years to come.
|Bahia Magdalena Recertification|
|By Megan Wehrenberg, Reef Check California North-Central Coast Manager
The first week of October marked Reef Check’s second year of training members of the commercial fishing cooperative of Isla Magdalena in Baja California Sur, Mexico. In 2010, with the help of the Mexican non-profit Comunidad y Biodiversidad (COBI), the cooperative set up a no-take marine protected area (MPA) within their fishing territory in response to population declines of their fished species. Since then a selected group of cooperative members are working with Reef Check to learn to scientifically monitor sites inside and outside of the MPA to measure how well it’s working.
Reef Check’s Mexico program manager Mary Luna and I traveled along with a few COBI staff to the remote town on Isla Magdalena, a peaceful community in a wild setting, free from the bustle of roads and electricity. The purpose of our trip was to spend a week conducting a scuba refresher and a recertification for the group to recalibrate their survey skills after almost a year hiatus from surveying. When we arrived in Bahia Magdalena we were met by a warm, sunny day, calm water, and a group of fishermen anxious to get in the water. A few of the guys regularly spend time underwater collecting invertebrates using hookah, however, most of them only dive during this annual training and monitoring so they were excited to get wet and refresh their skills. Even though the guys have very few dives under their belts they are all competent on and underwater, so we flew through the scuba refresher without a problem.
We spent the next three days in the classroom and in the water practicing species identification and our four types of transects: fish, invertebrate, seaweed, and substrate characterization. It is always a treat to practice in the waters just outside Bahia Magdalena. They are full of life, and a fascinating mix of organisms ranging from those found in the temperate waters of California to others from the tropical waters of mainland Mexico. We swam amongst green sea turtles, large groupers, several species of lobster, abalone, angelfishes, sheephead, and garibaldis. Our trainees did extremely well with all aspects of the training and readied themselves for the two weeks of surveys that would ensue once we left. These data will prove to be very important as future decisions are made about the MPA size and longevity.
It is always a pleasure to spend time in the quiet and friendly town on Isla Magdalena. We thoroughly enjoyed the diving and even managed to sneak in a couple hikes across the island among the coyotes and rattlesnakes to watch the sun set over the Pacific. We thank the Cooperative of Magdalena Bay and COBI for their support during this training.
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|DR Fishermen Get Involved in Reef Conservation with Caribbean SEA|
|By Mary Beth Sutton, Caribbean SEA
EGE Haina, the largest electricity generating company in the Dominican Republic, recently inaugurated the Los Cocos Wind Park in the remote southwest area of country between the communities of Enriquillo and Juancho. Much of this region is semi-arid and many of the people live in extreme poverty. Haina had the foresight to recognize that they were about to alter these communities, but could not employ many people. For that reason, Haina’s leaders decided to invest in sustainable development in these small communities, helping them to help themselves through investments in education, health and job creation.
One investment was to establish a fishermen’s cooperative in the village of Juancho. The prevailing sea currents around Hispaniola come from Santo Domingo, the capital of the D.R. and hit the peninsula where Juancho is located. The amount of plastic garbage which is carried by these currents is enormous and in Juancho, it gets enmeshed in the roots of the magnificent mangroves which line the bay. Haina employed the fishermen during a critical part of the lobster breeding season to deep clean the mangroves. They removed hundreds of bags of plastic bottles. Caribbean SEA gave the fishermen marine and coastal ecology lessons while in the mangrove during their lunch breaks! The fishermen did not realize that corals were alive and how much better they could protect them by not anchoring to or standing on the brain coral or leaving their nets on the massive elkhorn coral. They were really amazed and ready to protect their reefs! Now these fishermen are establishing ecotours so they can show others the treasures of their home and teach others to protect the water, the mangroves and the coral reefs.
Because establishing the fishermen’s cooperative should lead to healthier coral reef habitat, we also wanted to establish a baseline of reef health through Reef Check procedures and volunteer SCUBA divers. Lucy Kreiling, of Columbia SCUBA in South Carolina, had told me several times that her divers like to go above and beyond recreational diving to really do something to help the reefs they love to dive. She put together a crew who paid their way to the Dominican Republic as well as for Reef Check certification from Angel Luis Franco, formerly part of Reef Check D.R. The fishermen took us in their small fishing boats out to the reefs they designated as the best reefs. The fishermen are on a steep learning curve and interacting with a group of divers who care about their reefs and their fish really made an impression on them. However, when we got out to the reef to begin the transects, Tropical Storm Emily started whipping up big swells. Only half of us could complete even the first transect, while the rest of us were feeding the fish as we lost our breakfast! Thankfully, the fishermen introduced us to the amazing healing power of coconut water and we all felt better quickly. The storm arrived the next day and ruined our plans for the survey, but we did engage the divers in a scientific eco tour where they analyzed water samples and observed bird and marine life in the very sheltered mangrove bay of Juancho. They also were able to observe the mountains of marine debris washing in on the waves, wave after wave bringing plastic bottles into the mangrove. The divers from Columbia SCUBA didn’t quite get the dive trip they had hoped for and Juancho didn’t get the Reef Check surveys completed, but these groups taught each other so much about culture, coral reefs, and about good people helping good people to protect our coral reefs. As a result, two of the fishermen are eager to learn to SCUBA dive and be certified as Reef Check EcoDivers so they can keep track of reef health from within their community.
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|Reef Check Italia's Indonesian Adventure|
|By Gianfranco Rossi, Reef Check Italia Onlus
Pulau Bangka is an island in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Not more than a thousand years ago Bangka was lying over a thousand meters deep in the sea. This young island is located in the center of marine biodiversity of the planet, the Coral Triangle, where there is a maximum number of reef building coral species. Situated between the well-known Bunaken Marine Park and the renowned Lembeh, Bangka showcases the characteristics of both locations, with dive sites marked by large coral formations alternating with stretches of black sand typically populated by the highly sought after critters of the nearby Strait of Lembeh.
As in many other parts of Indonesia, the pressure exerted by humans here is very high, particularly because of the many fisheries which still include the use of techniques such as dynamite and cyanide, characterized by highly destructive impacts. The exploitation of the territories by large mining companies, in particular from Australia, Brazil and China, in search of mineral resources, has already caused in various parts of Sulawesi serious damage to the local tropical forests. This exploitation has caused widespread flooding and landslides with serious consequences for the fragile coral reef and mangrove ecosystems.
So it is Pulau Bangka where four Italian guys have decided to realize one of their dreams of running an ambitious project with the aim of accommodating researchers and students studying in the field. In September, this project was successfully tested during an expedition organized by Reef Check Italia Onlus and the Polytechnic University of Marche. The expedition provided a group of students with the opportunity to study firsthand the marine biodiversity of coral reefs along with issues such as bleaching, coral disease and ocean acidification. The Reef Check protocol allowed the students to learn the main techniques of coral reef monitoring with daily dives to assess substrate cover and to take a visual census of fishes and invertebrates.
These surveys are the first and only assessments available to date concerning the health of coral reefs of Bangka, a "baseline" that will be particularly useful if in the future the activities undertaken in this area will continue. It is hoped that survey teams can continue to provide information useful for the sustainable management of this area. Many thanks to the staff of the Coral Eye Research Center for their impeccable organization during this trip.
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