By Colleen Wisniewski, Reef Check California Southern California Manager
Reef Check California (RCCA) wins an Emmy Award! That's probably not what you expected to hear, but it's true (well actually I won the Emmy Award, but it wouldn't have been possible without RCCA). We were part of the inaugural season of "SciGirls", a series where viewers follow teams of middle school girls and their mentors as they create their own inquiry-based investigations of the environment, technology, engineering, animal behavior and health.
We filmed our episode during August 2009 with two sisters from Southern California named Meg and Elle, who are both snorkelers and scuba divers and have extensive experience on our local rocky reefs. The location for the shoot was Catalina Island Marine Institute at Toyon Bay (CIMI) where we spent three days exploring their laboratories and snorkeling and diving at various locations around the island, collecting data inside and outside a marine reserve. We developed a modified protocol to allow the girls to collect data while snorkeling from the surface. Our focus was on 7 indicator species instead of our usual 76 and the girls discovered that changes in the populations of indicator species are interconnected through predator/prey relationships on the reefs.
Our Emmy Award is in the "New Approaches Daytime Children's" category and was noted for its unique merging of television and the web. Episodes of SciGirls are still being broadcast on PBS stations around the United States. In addition, our episode (number 109: Ocean Ecosystems) is also available online at the SciGirls website in case you haven't gotten a chance to see it. I recently received an official Emmy Award certificate from the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and it's very exciting, but I'm still holding out for a golden mini-Emmy statuette for my desk!