Submitted by Nohora Galvis
Acknowledging that recreational divers visit coral reefs more often than scientists do, former Colombian Reef Check Coordinator Nohora Galvis has written many scientific papers about the relevance of including dive operators in the decision-making process as reporters of their underwater observations. At a meeting in the Florida Keys this July, Nohora accomplished her objective of recommending internationally that it is relevant that each country develop a network of dive operators to act as coral reef observers to provide an early alert of potential environmental impacts. To support this objective in Colombia, a website was created by the ICRI Foundation Colombia in Pro of Coral Reefs. Since the main idea is to organize a systematic collection of data, training needs to be provided to scuba dive operators to report on a daily or weekly basis during peak alert seasons. These reports should then be analyzed by NGOs before governmental agencies are informed. In Colombia, the first training workshop has been planned for the 2010 Colombian Day of the Reef. The 160 scuba dive operators in Colombia have been invited to attend.
While in the Keys, Nohora Galvis met with Reef Check Florida representative and President of Ocean Rehab, William Djubin to share their experiences of organizing a network of divers. William recently organized teams of divers to conduct pre-oil surveys in the Keys. Nohora and William also met with Nikole Ordway, a Reef Check EcoDiver Course Director at Pro Dive International in Fort Lauderdale, to exchange new ideas to improve the volunteer monitoring of coral reefs.