By Reef Check Executive Director Gregor Hodgson
Reef Check Coordinators from two dozen countries participated in the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, from July 7 – 11, and many continued on with the twice-yearly International Coral Reef General Meeting. ICRS, held every four years, is the world’s largest coral reef science meeting. It was hard to find a session without Reef Check members presenting papers and posters!
Highlights included a paper from RC Jamaica's Loureene Jones using Reef Check data from the entire Caribbean, followed by her announcement that her country had incorporated 31 Reef Check sites in the national monitoring program. RC Fiji's Ed Lovell, Helen Sykes, and Norman Quinn presented temperature data and noted that coral cover on some Fijian reefs now exceeds the level seen there prior to the devastating 1998 bleaching event. Helen Sykes also prepared a poster about the Marine Protected Area in Waitabu, Taveuni Island, Fiji. RC Australia's Jos Hill presented an important paper demonstrating the high level of accuracy and precision of Reef Check data collected by volunteers on the Great Barrier Reef. Mariko Abe and colleagues from RC Japan had two poster presentations showing the results of ten years of monitoring in Japan, with a focus on Okinawa. The story from Okinawa was very exciting because it showed how inshore reefs suffering disturbance from sedimentation recovered more slowly compared to offshore reefs. In addition, the RC Japan team discovered a huge stand of blue coral (Heliopora coerulea) 80m long, 27m wide, and 11m high, previously unknown in this location.
For more information, please visit http://www.nova.edu/ncri/11icrs/