For those of you curious: "What has Reef Check accomplished?" the Executive Summary: Reef Check California 2006-2007: Citizen Monitoring to Improve Marine Conservation Report is now out.
A few stats to whet your whistle:
Reef Check California has:
Reef Check California has trained and certified over 250 volunteers comprised of
a diverse group of ocean users including recreational divers, commercial urchin
fishermen, lifeguards and students. These dedicated volunteers have surveyed
48 sites along California’s coast and counted over 80,000 individual
• 27,546 fishes
• 36,783 invertebrates
• 16,070 seaweeds
• 69,528 kelp stipes
The Reef Check California Program is still relatively new, but the data are already
being used to help understand critical management issues.
SAMPLE CASE STUDIES
1. Reef Check California and the Marine Life
Protection Act (MLPA)
The ability of Reef Check California divers to collect scientific data has been
especially timely on the central coast where a new network of Marine Protected
Areas (MPAs) went into effect on September 21, 2007 (Figure 2). Many of the new
MPAs in the central coast MLPA region were surveyed by Reef Check California
teams in both 2006 and 2007 and will continue to be monitored in the future. These
data, along with data collected at Reef Check California sites around the state, will
be crucial for evaluating the effectiveness of MPAs and informing the on-going siting
of MPAs in California.
2. Catalina Island – A Tale of Two Sites
Kelp bass is one of the most important recreationally fished species in southern
California and California sheephead is important to both the recreational and
commercial fisheries. The density and size of these species were assessed by
Reef Check volunteers at two popular reefs on the front side of Catalina Island:
Isthmus Reef and Casino Point. While the density of these species was similar
at both sites, the size structure was very different. Both species had a higher
percentage of individuals in the large size class at Casino Point than at Isthmus Reef
Although the sites are in close proximity to each other and have similar habitats,
Casino Point is more sheltered than Isthmus Reef and lies within a communityenforced
MPA where fishing is banned. The level of fishing effort and site exposure
may help explain the different trends in fish size.
Reef Check California surveys scientifically describe the biological profile of a site, as
well as the habitat. These detailed assessments allow comparisons among sites and
can be used to unravel the causes of observed trends.
The full report [Executive Summary] can be viewed at:
http://www.reefcheck.org/rcca/2yr.php [lower right side of page, downloadable .pdf file]
Note: Internet Explorer is recommended for best viewing. You may get some weirdness in Firefox.