By Michele Inigo, Volunteer Diver for Reef Check and Aquarium of the Pacific
What a day! On August 10, 2014, Reef Check Staff and Volunteers teamed up with The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California to give children and adults a close encounter with marine life in Salt Creek. The day started out with captivating slide shows by two Marine Biologists, Leslie Hart from the Eco-Adventure Center at the Ritz Carlton and Colleen Wisniewski from Reef Check. These presentations introduced guests to creatures that they were about to encounter. They were then guided along the beach where still photos from the slide show came alive! Participants explored tidepools and interacted with Reef Check Staff and Volunteers.
As a partner in Reef Check’s “Adopt-a-Reef” program, The Ritz-Carlton sponsors annual health checks of the reef ecosystem by volunteer citizen scientists trained by Reef Check. Of course two of our very own Reef Check Volunteer Divers with full on survey gear made a special appearance! Perfect timing as the children were pretending to go through two "transect lines" on the sand where they noted on their very own colorful data sheets the indicator species they encountered. Like celebrities, the Volunteer Divers were surrounded by a crowd who wondered about all the instruments hanging all over their wetsuits! The crowd quickly learned how funny looking calipers were used to measure abalone and how the data collected helps to monitor the health of the surrounding reefs. It reminded me of my childhood - before electronic games and gadgets were made - when "the great outdoors" was my learning environment. It instilled in me a sense of wonder and respect, two ingredients of great stewardship.
Special thanks to Lyn Evins, Leslie Hart and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for their help and support of this event. Click here to see more photos from the day's activities.