By Reef Check EcoDiver Course Director Jim Catlin
Throughout April and May 2012, recently qualified Reef Check Course Director Jim Catlin trained work colleagues from the NGO Community Centred Conservation (C3) as Reef Check EcoDivers and EcoDiver Trainers. After coordinating training for C3 staff in Madagascar last year, it was the turn of the facilitation team to get involved and swap their desks for the beautiful reefs of Dahab in the Red Sea!
As marine scientists with considerable field experience, training with team C3 focused mainly on the Reef Check methodology and classification of substrate categories. The initial training was carried out in the calm waters of Southern Oasis with a perfect reef slope for practice surveys and identification exercises. This proved to be a lot of fun and included sightings of a beautiful peppered moray and sizeable Red Sea coral grouper.
After successful completion of the EcoDiver course, including some impressive classroom tests, the newly qualified recruits put their skills into practice by carrying out a full Reef Check survey at Lighthouse. This site is one of the most heavily dived in the region and situated in the main bay of the town, making it an interesting and important area to study potential human impacts to the reef. The C3 team surveyed Lighthouse reef at two depths, 4m and 11m. Results indicated a 53% hard coral cover for the shallower depth dropping to 20% cover at 11m. Butterflyfish and Parrotfish were the most common target fish species identified; snappers and groupers were less abundant. Clear waters and high levels of sunlight also meant that plenty of giant clams were recorded, some reaching 30-40cm in size.
Overall, anthropogenic impact was low with minimal Nutrient Indicator Algae and trash recorded, which, considering the site's proximity to human settlements and the high diver and snorkeler pressure, is encouraging to see. This is most likely due to the fact that the reefs in Egypt, and throughout the Red Sea, boast a high level of legal protection which is enforced not only by the local authorities but by the diving communities that live and work here- an important example of how a national regulatory framework for reef protection can work. cpr certification
C3 was borne out of the aspirations of three young people in Palau, Micronesia in 2002, who were passionate about nature but disillusioned with the approach of large international organizations, particularly the lack of time and funds spent at the grassroots level to truly understand and appreciate communities’ needs and fully involve them in the development of conservation strategies. C3 is a truly community-based organization which focuses on a two-way process for conservation; learning from local communities about their knowledge of the environment and at the same time providing them with the information they require from collaborative scientific studies to make their own decisions about sustainable resource management. C3 is currently providing Reef Check training in Madagascar, Fiji and the Philippines.