The Transect Line - September/October 2019

Dear Reader,
This month’s Newsletter was not an easy one for us at Reef Check to produce. In this edition we are remembering Reef Checkers and friends who lost their lives during the tragedy on the Conception dive boat off the Channel Islands on Labor Day weekend. We are also mourning the loss of one of your first and longtime volunteers and instructors, Rob Matteri, who passed away in August. These tragedies have weighed heavy on Reef Check staff and volunteers over the last months and are still on everyone’s mind as we continue our work to wrap up our 2019 field season here in California.

We also have stories from Reef Check volunteers, instructors and programs from around the world. A volunteer from Italy reports on her journey of becoming a Reef Check volunteer and traveling to Australia and how she experienced Reef Check’s global community being connected by the drive to collect data and protect the marine environment. While she learns the different survey methods, she remarks on how similar the threats to the oceans are, from the Mediterranean to the Great Barrier Reef, and how she was inspired by the volunteers she met during her travels.

Reef Check Malaysia reports on its second successful Coastal Cleanup during which they helped collect 37 tons of trash from beaches at over 100 locations. Our video spotlight features Hassan “Beybe” Ahmed, telling his story about how he got involved with Reef Check through an EcoExpedition, became the local coordinator for Reef Check Maldives and his plans for the future of Reef Check in the Maldives.

Lastly, we have some good news from the most recent Maldives EcoExpedition and this year’s Reef Check surveys there. This 250km long survey trip around the central islands reported that coral reefs are showing some resilience, adaptability and even recovery from climate change effects. While this newsletter comes with a heavy heart, we hope you find these stories informative, interesting, and inspiring.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jan Freiwald

Executive Director


In Memory of MV Conception

This past Labor Day weekend, the country was shocked to learn of a tragic boat accident off the coast of California. The Conception, one of three dive boats owned by a long running, well respected dive boat operation out of Santa Barbara, had caught fire in the middle of the night killing 33 passengers and one crew off the coast of Santa Cruz Island. The fire occurred on the morning of September 2nd, the last day of a three-day dive trip to the Northern Channel Islands.

Here in California, the dive community was shaken, as many knew one or more of the victims, had dove on the Truth Aquatics’ boats in the past, or just felt the huge loss, despair, confusion and frustration that was coursing through this tight knit group of divers.

Out of the 34 souls lost on the Conception, six of those were a part of the Reef Check California family. We want to honor those we have lost with as much love and respect as we can offer. Please feel free to reach out to any of our staff or fellow Reef Checkers if you need to talk about anything relating to this tragedy. It is together that we can heal. And it is through sharing our stories, photos, tears and laughter that we can remember those who we have lost. Our hearts go out to all those wonderful people who lost their lives on that fateful trip and to all their friends and families. We will never forget.

In Remembrance of Rob Matteri

Rob Matteri, among the very first California Reef Checkers, sadly passed away on August 20. Reef Check’s Dan Abbott and Bill Field remember him here.

From Dan Abbott:
Rob was one of the first people I met when I got involved in Reef Check and was always an inspiration to me. His dedication and cheer were infectious, and he will be severely missed. Rob and Bill Field (whose note is below) were among the very first California Reef Checkers and were instrumental in setting up our efforts in Sonoma county including conducting surveys of Grestle Cove every Spring pretty much by themselves (in two dives with 120's!). They have taught many of the folks in this region Reef Check, including the 2019 Sonoma class that finished up just a few months ago. We miss you Rob.


"Bid for the Oceans" Auction Raises Critical Funding for Reef Check Programs

Thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, over $32,000 was raised to support Reef Check’s education, conservation, and research programs around the world! Reef Check's online auction fundraiser, "Bid for the Oceans", ran from September 16 – 26 and offered a vast array of items from dive trips, resort stays, unique experiences and cool gear. The next Bid for the Oceans auction will be in June 2020- contact us to find out how you can be involved!

Video Spotlight: New Reef Check Maldives Coordinator on the 2019 Maldives EcoExpedition

Hassan “Beybe” Ahmed, the new coordinator of Reef Check Maldives and a newly certified EcoDiver Trainer, shares his thoughts on Biosphere Expeditions’ 2019 Maldives EcoExpedition. See the article below for more on what the expedition found.

Nature Fighting Back: Maldives Reefs Showing Resilience

Biosphere Expeditions, the Marine Conservation Society, Reef Check Maldives and local Maldives environmental group Save the Beach Maldives have just returned from a 250 km expedition around the central Maldives, the ninth annual survey of its kind since 2010. They found, against expectations, that corals are showing some resilience, adaptability and even recovery from climate change effects.

My Reef Check Journey: From the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Barrier Reef

As an enthusiastic Italian scientific diver, Susanna Primavesi has been part of the Reef Check family since 2018. Her passion for the tropical environment and conservation took her to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where she took part in several projects and found that while the methodologies are different due to vastly different marine habitats, the same drive exists among dedicated volunteers to help collect data and protect the natural environment.


2019 International Coastal Clean-up Hailed a Great Success

On September 21st, Reef Check Malaysia, along with key partners, joined forces with thousands of people across Malaysia to participate in a nationwide clean-up effort held in conjunction with the 33rd International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) Day. The clean-up was conducted at more than 100 locations around Malaysia and almost 37,000 kg (81,571 lbs) of trash were removed from beaches, with the most common items being plastic beverage bottles, food wrappers and cigarette butts.


Reef Check in the News

Coral 'signs of hope' in the Maldives - Divernet

NGOs in Pulau Tioman recycle waste into construction material - The Sun Daily (Malaysia)

Urchin Matters - Bohemian.com (California, USA)

About 37,000kg of trash picked up from Malaysian beaches in one day - The Star Online (Malaysia)

Into The Industry: Reef Check Regional Manager - The Marine Diaries

Millions of Athletes Hit the Ocean Every Year. Scientists Want to Know What They're Seeing - REI Co-Op Journal

Environmentalists gather for Reef Check Eco-Expedition - The Edition (Maldives)


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