By Reef Check California Director Dr. Jan Freiwald
Reef Check California has just finished its last survey for 2010. A team of volunteers from all over the state came together for an overnight boat trip to San Clemente Island to establish a new site on December 11th - a perfect end to the 2010 survey season. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers who have put in so much work this year to make it another successful survey season for RCCA. We can only do this important work because of you! I would also like to thank all our non-diving supporters for their continued commitment to our work. RCCA has now collected five years of monitoring data from a total of 73 sites ranging from San Diego to Humboldt County. This is an enormous dataset and every completed year of surveying makes it more valuable for helping, for example, evaluate the new MPA networks (see below). This accomplishment is entirely the result of all the hard work that Reef Check volunteers have put into this project over the years.
Now that this year's surveys are done we are working on compiling all data and adding them to our database so that they are ready to be analyzed. To do this and to wrap up our survey season we just had our annual staff meeting for our five-year report. Since we are distributed throughout California, this is a time when we all get together and reflect on the past year and make plans for next year. We have developed next year's training and recertification schedule and expanded our locations with additional trainings offered in San Luis Obispo and Fort Bragg next year. Sign up today by checking out the new 2011 training schedule.
As this year comes to a close, there is big news in southern California this month. The Fish and Game Commission approved the implementation of a network of new marine protected areas (MPAs) under the MLPA initiative. This means that over the next year new MPAs will be established in this region. Therefore, next year we will reevaluate our monitoring network in this region and add surveys where necessary to reflect these important management changes in southern California. A map of the approved MPAs can be viewed at the California Department of Fish and Game Website. As we plan for next year, I am excited about the new opportunities that will arise for Reef Check California and look forward to seeing all our volunteers out in the ocean again diving to monitor California's rocky reefs. Until then, I wish everyone a peaceful and relaxed holiday and a happy new year.