Reef Check’s International Photography Contest 2008 “What Do Reefs Mean To You?” has concluded! Enthusiasts from over 33 countries and territories around the world submitted close to 300 photos. We would like to thank all of you who helped us promote the contest, submitted photos, voted for favorites, or simply took the time to visit the contest site to check out the photo entries. We would also like to thank contest sponsors Body Glove, Chapman Walters Intercoastal Corporation, Manthiri Maldives, Oceanic Worldwide, and PROMATE for their support, as well as pros David Fleetham, Dan Gotshall and Bonnie Pelnar, who readily volunteered their precious time to be part of our judging panel. All of your efforts combined made Reef Check’s 1st International Photography Contest such a great success that we have decided to hold the Contest again in 2009! The Winners and Honorable Mentions are listed below, congratulations!
Tropical Reefs Grand Prize Winner: “Manta” by Scott Hanson
California Reefs Grand Prize Winner: “Stalking Lingcod” by Ben Troxell
People and the Reef Winner: “Traveling Circus” by Barb Makohin
Creative Visions of the Reef Winner: “Turtle Reef Split” by Scott Hanson
Animal Behavior Winner: “Manta” by Scott Hanson
Indicator Organisms Winner: “Stalking Lingcod” by Ben Troxell
Teams in Action Winner: “I Gotta Count All Those Stripes?” by Jessie Altstatt
Young Photographer Winner: “Persistent Coral” by Tiffany Klerk
People and the Reef Honorable Mention: “Honu Drift” by Erin Pfuntner
Creative Visions of the Reef Honorable Mention: “Whales in the Wild” by Jeannette Howard
Animal Behavior Honorable Mention: "Tongue over Tongue" by Felix Rodriguez
Indicator Organisms Honorable Mention: “Caged Cabezon” by Randy Hardwood
Teams in Action Honorable Mention: “Underwater Spell Checker” by Bill Field
Young Photographer Honorable Mention: “Blue Eye and More” by Christian Salibi
To view all winners and entries, please visit the Contest Website.
Steal a Deal at the Online Auction for Reef Rescue 2008
Reef Check will be holding a special online auction from November 5 - 12 so even if you can't attend in person, you can still be a part of this exciting event from the comfort of your own home! This year's auction features some fantastic items: exotic dive trips to Fiji and the Maldives, relaxing weekend getaways to Palm Springs, top-of-the-line dive equipment such as the Body Glove Eco Wetsuit, gift certificates, and beautiful jewelry! Some items will be exclusively sold online, and many of our items will utilize Absentee Bidding- bidding will start online and then continue at our live event on November 15th. Bidders can enter a maximum bid online and Reef Check staff at our live event will bid on your behalf up to your maximum. You can get a sneak preview of our online auction today- be sure to vist http://reefcheck.cmarket.com and register as a bidder!
Reef Rescue 2008 will take place on November 15th at the beautiful Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California. Following a silent auction among the exotic fish in the Tropical Tanks, guests will dine at international food stations and interact with fun exhibits celebrating the cultural diversity of reef nations from around the world. Then, hold onto your tank! It’s a live auction featuring thrilling auctioneer, Tere Morris! A celebration follows for 2008’s Spirit of the Reef Award honoree Greg MacGillivray, creator of films such as “Five Summer Stories” and “IMAX Coral Reef Adventure”. There are just a few days left to purchase tickets- don't be left out! Please RSVP today!
Congratulations to Ms. Teh Soo Sze of Malaysia, winner of the Reef Check/AliveNotDead.com contest! As the grand prize winner, she will be flown to Los Angeles to attend Reef Rescue 2008 as a VIP guest. Many thanks to Zuji for their support!
New Reef Check/Biosphere Expeditions EcoExpedition: Musandam, Oman
Reef Check is partnering with Biosphere Expeditions, an award winning eco-expedition company, to offer a unique, one-week, marine science research expedition to a beautiful, unexplored, coral reef area in the small, middle eastern country of Oman. Despite its location bordering the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean, Oman is a peaceful country and has never experienced the turmoil afflicting other countries in the region. A stable government led by an open-minded Sultan who promotes higher education for both sexes has allowed Oman to enjoy long-term peace and prosperity. The expedition is to Oman’s Musandam peninsula, known as the Norway of the Middle East because of its dozens of fjord-like bays bordered by towering mountains. The spectacular terrestrial scenery is only exceeded by the cornucopia of life found underwater.
Expedition members will arrive at the bustling airport of neighboring Dubai, one of the six “emirates” of the United Arab Emirates. The contrast between metropolitan Dubai and the Musandam peninsula could not be greater. Dubai resembles Hong Kong on steroids, with a building boom that puts Shanghai to shame. Wealthy, local entrepreneurs are competing to build the biggest, tallest, most outrageous office buildings, hotels and mosques in the world. The latest entrant is the 2,313 foot (818 m) high Burj Dubai- a building double the height of the Empire State Building. The PalmJumeirah development actually looks like a giant palm tree floating in the waters fronting the city.
After arriving in Dubai, expedition members will travel by car on new roads three hours up the coast to Khasab, a small historic town, where they will board the MV Khalad, a live-aboard boat. The MV Khalad is a 23 m long, air conditioned “dhow” with an experienced crew, a skiff and an imaginative cook. The expedition leader is Jon Shrives, a jovial British doctoral candidate in coral reef ecology at Oxford University. Jon has led Biosphere/Reef Check expeditions for two years to Cayos Cochinos, Honduras.
During the first two days, members will enjoy a mixture of Reef Check training in the classroom and in the sea. By the end of the expedition, all members will be trained and those who pass the certification test will be formally certified Reef Check EcoDivers and will also be eligible for a PADI Reef Check Specialty Certification. During the remaining expedition, participants will carry out Reef Check surveys throughout the peninsula.
During the first week of October, I participated in a reconnaissance expedition to Oman to choose suitable reefs for sampling. The team included Jon Shrives, Biosphere Managing Director Dr. Matthias Hammer, Biosphere Coordinator Cathy Wilden, coral biologist Dr. Michel Claereboudt of Oman University, Portuguese marine biologist Rita Pena, scuba Instructor Udo Neumann, and Suhail Batook, a recreational diver from HSBC, the expedition sponsor. The team carried out manta tows and reconnaissance dives at over 40 sites throughout the peninsula. The scenery can only be described as spectacular. Along the coast, one thousand meter high solid rock peaks drop straight into the sea, and below, the reefs, which are often 90% living coral, teem with large grouper, emperors, and schools of jacks, snapper and fusiliers. I saw turtles, lobster and sting rays at several sites, and even an occasional reef shark passing by. Colorful species endemic to the Indian Ocean and Oman are numerous. Blue and yellow Indian Ocean angelfish are so common that they form schools. The Arabian butterflyfish is everywhere and hard to miss due to its brilliant yellow-orange color.
The dives range from walls to gentle rocky slopes covered by hard corals such as black coral and blue gorgonians. The reefs are in excellent condition with percentage coral cover reaching the highest levels seen in the world (80 -90%) and with over 200 species present. Human impacts on the reefs are relatively low but include gill net and trap fishing, periodic exposure to oil from spills, storm wave damage and predation by crown-of-thorns sea stars.
Participants in the 2009 Biosphere/Reef Check surveys will focus on a range of coral reefs including many that have never been surveyed scientifically. An expedition report will be issued and it is hoped that, in addition to tracking human impacts on the reefs of Oman, the results will be useful to the Oman government for planning a network of protected areas in Musandam. Contact Biosphere Expeditions to learn more and reserve your space on this exciting trip!
Reef Check California Update!
October has been an incredible month of both challenging and stellar ocean conditions. Reef Checkers across the state have been able to make the final push and complete the bulk of surveys for the 2008 season. We are wrapping up the final surveys now and are on track to complete 60 sites this year. This is a 25% increase in the number of survey sites from 2007! Reef Check California is able to continue the expansion of our monitoring network because of the dedication of our divers and the support of our members. Your donations directly contribute to our ability to continue expanding our monitoring network. From our humble beginnings in 2006, with 18 sites surveyed statewide, our monitoring network has grown by an incredible 230%! This ensures we are getting the critical data needed by marine resource managers for them to make informed decisions. To that end, RCCA has begun working closely with a newly created position within the California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG), the Research and Data Partnership Coordinator. This partnership will ensure that we continue to provide RCCA data in the most useable format to the CDFG and that the data is applied in all necessary areas of marine management. We also continue to interact with the MPA Monitoring Enterprise, participating in meetings in the North Central Region, discussing the monitoring plan for the soon-to-be-enacted MPAs, and in Southern California as the MLPA process gets underway in that region. You can visit the links below from our discussion forum to see some of the amazing things our divers have been up to this past month:
Nor/Cen Cal - 10/10 - 12 Ocean Cove Survey Camp Out! (click here for pictures)
Nor/Cen Cal - New site in SLO, Spooner's Cove-->FINISHED
Nor/Cen Cal - New site in Monterey, Pt. Joe-->FINISHED
SB: Anacapa Island boat dive for AAUS divers 10/23/08
DFG San Miguel Abalone survey recap
SD: boat charter, Broomtail Reef Saturday Oct 18-Completed!
We continue to be on the front lines of improving marine management in California, and we need your continued help! Your donations to RCCA go directly to supporting the collection of critical data needed to keep the management of California’s marine resources sustainable. If you aren’t already a Reef Check member, join us, and if you are a diver, sign up for a 2009 training!
International Year of the Reef Update
by: Mary Luna
It is only two months until the end of the International Year of the Reef and the festivities continue! For those who are not involved yet, there is still time to sign the International Declaration of Reef Rights, enter Reef Check’s Youth Singing Contest, or participate in any reef conservation activity that adds momentum to the already unstoppable IYOR. Living away from the ocean or a coral reef is no excuse!
Marine biologists and underwater photographers Wayne and Karen Brown from The Ocean Adventure are raising coral reef awareness during the IYOR through their national school assembly, The Australia Great Barrier Reef Expedition. This exciting K-8th grade program ties in with the popular movie “Finding Nemo” and takes the audience on a virtual expedition using audience participation, biological models, and breathtaking HD digital projection! A large, 6-foot long coral reef is built on stage and a gigantic 8-foot tall inflatable coral polyp makes a surprise appearance at the end of the show. Students also learn how and why coral reefs grow only in certain unique places around the world and how they are threatened. What a fun way to learn about corals!
In November, the Village of Tequesta Parks & Recreation Department in Florida will be taking steps towards saving the Earth for Tequesta’s future. Their annual Harvest Festival will include the usual fun rides, great entertainment, yummy food, and games. This year, however, they will also incorporate environmental components. As a contribution to the IYOR they have invited Reef Check to be part of the Festival. Reef Check will be working with Earth Rehab to promote awareness of coral reef issues through the International Declaration of Reef Rights and other educational materials during the Harvest Festival. If you live nearby, or happen to be in the area, be sure to come by our booth and learn more!
Many contests are being held around the world to raise awareness of reef ecosystems. The Horizon International Magic Porthole's First Environment Achievement Contest, for example, asks people to talk about their efforts to help save coral reefs, no matter how far they live from the ocean. Individuals of all ages and organizations are invited to participate, and the deadline has been extended to December 31, 2008. Aquariums, museums and coral reef organizations, including Reef Check, are offering prizes for this contest. It is very easy to enter, so do it today! Contest details are posted on the Magic Porthole website.
USVI’s tireless efforts to engage residents in marine conservation continue! During the 7th and last movie of their FREE Family Movie Night series, they will show “Shark Tale” on Friday, November 21st from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the University of the Virgin Islands Great Hall- there will be free popcorn! In addition, St. Croix’s IYOR Committee and St. Croix’s Environmental Association (SEA) have teamed up for IYOR to offer free snorkel clinics to St. Croix community members. The next clinics will be held November 22nd from 10am to noon at Green Cay Beach (SEA’s Southgate Coastal Reserve) and December 14th from 10 am to noon at Fort Frederik Beach. Experience the beauty of reefs firsthand and learn how to use your snorkeling gear properly. Snacks and prizes will be available! For more information contact Karlyn Langjahr at email@example.com or (340) 773-3367.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is celebrating the IYOR by offering free environmental classes- availability is limited, so reserve your spot early! Marine Invertebrate Identification will be held on November 19 from 1 to 4pm. This course will introduce you to the most common sea sponges, octocorals (soft corals), crustaceans, echinoderms and mollusks that you’re likely to encounter when diving or snorkeling on southeast Florida coral reefs. The next class, Stony Coral Identification, will be held on December 17 from 12 to 4pm. This course will introduce you to roughly thirty species of stony corals that are found within Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties. A test will be administered at the end of each class and all participants will receive a resource CD-ROM of images from the course for future reference. Please contact Christopher.Boykin@dep.state.fl.us to reserve your spot. Classes will be held at Barry University in Room #166 of the Library (building 3) 11300 N.E. Second Avenue Miami Shores, FL 33161.
Turks & Caicos Team Completes First Reef Check Survey
by Dr. Karen Cangialosi
My colleague, Dr. Scott Strong, and I were very pleased to complete our first Reef Check survey on Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands on September 29, 2008. Our survey took place only 2 weeks after Hurricane Ike came through Provo as a Category 4 storm. While some gorgonian coral damage was apparent, I was happy to see that the reef at "Coral Gardens" had not changed much at all since my visit earlier in the year. Clearly, humans can have a greater impact than even some very severe natural storms. I have been teaching Tropical Marine Biology at Keene State College since 2001 and have been bringing my students to Providenciales for a week-long field trip as part of the course. While the course has been very successful, I really wanted to bring an environmental/conservation research experience to our students. Observing the marine environment is extremely valuable, but being part of an ongoing international conservation effort offers an exciting educational experience that is impossible to replace. I chose to work with Reef Check because of its emphasis on partnerships with local residents, students and scientists.
We plan to add sites and to complete our surveys at least once a year. Aside from the data that we collect, the most important value of this project comes from its emphasis on education and raising awareness. I am still shocked when I hear about tourists collecting animals, coral skeletons and shells from the water and beaches around the island, even in those areas that are designated as a National Marine Sanctuary. We look forward to building our Reef Check team and adding to the database in the future.
Dominican Republic Students Get To Know Their Marine Resources
In September,The Hotel Association of La Romana Bayahibe, in coordination with Reef Check Foundation Dominican Republic, conducted a camp for kids called “Empapémonos y Sumerjámonos (Let’s get Soaked and Submerged)”, in Bayahibe. Fifteen children from the communities of Bayahibe and Padre Nuestro attended the camp and learned about the fascinating marine world in a very fun way.
The camp took place over two days filled with activities designed to bring the ocean to the feet of the boys and girls. The children learned about the ocean, its fundamental importance to their community and the planet Earth, and the interesting creatures that inhabit its coasts and depths, as well as the greatest threats to its health and actions they can take to ensure all of us have a better future by taking care of our natural resources. All this was accomplished through talks, videos, experiments, and hands on experiences with nature herself.
The kids increased their ecological awareness through incredible experiences that they will never forget. At the end of the camp, the kids created a mural on the school wall illustrating their newly acquired knowledge, which will serve to raise awareness among fellow classmates.
This camp was made possible thanks to the support of the following institutions: Hotel Association La Romana-Bayahibe (Asociación de Hoteles La Romana-Bayahibe), La Romana: Distinctively Dominican, United States Peace Corps, Lila Shop, Santo Domingo National Aquarium (Acuario Nacional de Santo Domingo), Dominican Foundation Pro-Investigation and Conservation of Marine Resources (Fundación Dominicana Pro-Investigación y Conservación de los Recursos Marinos - MAMMA), Friends of Bayahibe’s Dolphins Foundation (Fundación Amigos de los Delfines de Bayahibe), and Hotel Oasis Canoa. In addition, we would like to thank all the volunteers who donated their time to ensure the camp’s success!
Coral Cay Conservation and Reef Check Team Up To Save Tobago's Threatened Reefs
By Jan-Willem van Bochove
Coral Cay Conservation (CCC), a British-based not-for-profit NGO conducting science, education and local training programs in Tobago, is helping the Tobago House of Assembly (the local government) collect vital information on the current status of coral reefs around this beautiful island. This information will help develop effective management plans for the area. On invitation of a local environmental NGO, the Buccoo Reef Trust, the Tobago Coastal Ecosystem Mapping Project is a two-year collaborative effort to collect scientific data on the current reef status. This project would not be able to run without the contribution of trained volunteers from around the world. These volunteers undergo an intensive two-week training course before joining scientists in gathering detailed information about fish, coral and invertebrate abundance, as well as levels of coral disease and human impacts. These baseline surveys are similar to those of Reef Check and can easily be transformed to allow for comparisons of reef health between islands of the Caribbean. CCC also trains volunteers and local scholars as Reef Check EcoDivers so they can help with our ongoing data collection program. Recently, Coral Cay has teamed up with the Department of Fisheries to provide free training in SCUBA diving and Reef Check surveying to some of their fisheries’ advisors. The support Coral Cay provides will allow them to collect data on the status of reef fisheries, greatly facilitating their efforts to manage the island’s coral reef fisheries.
If you are interested in helping us save Tobago’s stunning coastal ecosystems, then please visit us at www.coralcay.org and sign up for the experience of a lifetime!
CCC would like to thank Reef Check for their dedicated support throughout the project and, in particular, for the training they provided to our science staff. Expect to hear more from Reef Check Tobago as the IYOR Singing Contest deadline approaches!
Reef Check Maldives Releases Survey Report
Reef Check Maldives recently put together a summary report on their 2008 survey trip held June 13 - 30. Following Reef Check training, the team surveyed Dega Giri with the goals of gathering baseline data on the coral cover and species composition, and carrying out a quantitative assessment of predatory reef fish between different dive sites. The most common Reef Check indicator species recorded were butterflyfish, parrotfish, sea cucumber, and giant clam, while the substrate was dominated by mature colonies of fast-growing table Acropora coral. For more details and results, the full report can be downloaded here. If you are interested in joining next year's expeditions, please contact Jean-Luc Solandt.
Orange County Coast Wine Bar Tour With Reef Check and Las Olas Wine!
Hey Southern Californians, do you have plans for Saturday, November 8th? Now you do! Reef Check is partnering with one of our sponsors, Las Olas Wine, for their 1st annual “Wine Wave” event. From 12pm-6pm, a coach bus will chauffeur you to three Orange County coast wine bars to taste wine, snack, socialize, and help raise money for Reef Check! You will have the opportunity to win great items in a silent auction and will receive a free bottle of Las Olas Wine to take home. Click here for more information and to download your registration form. Sign up soon because space is limited!
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