Reef Check Update - August 1997

HODGSON GREGOR reefchck at
Mon Aug 11 00:52:06 EDT 1997

Reef Check Update - August 1997

August is the final month for Reef Check field surveys. Reef Check,
as part of IYOR, has been extremely successful in achieving the first
of two major goals - raising public awareness about the value of coral 
reefs. To achieve the second major goal - a scientific survey of human 
impacts on reefs - we need to receive your data in good order. If your
team has completed one or more surveys - send us the data now. Please
also send us topside and underwater video. We will need time to prepare
for the International Press Conference, scheduled for Thursday 16 October.

Please take careful note of the Reef Check protocols for categorizing data,
especially the substrate codes for the line transects. It is important that you 
make sure that you only use Reef Check codes. In particular, make sure that 
if you have selected "Other" as a substrate, that it falls within the 
description given in the protocols.

The Reef Check web site ( /~webrc/reef.html) has been
updated with last minute registrations, as well as photographs of Reef Check 
teams on the "Faces and Places - Reef Check '97" page. Just added are photos 
of the Reef Check Hong Kong opening dive. We'd love to add your team 
pictures... so please send in some shots for our web site. A copy of the paper 
"How to handle the media" has been added to our web site on the "Funding and 
Public Relations" page. 

****** REEF CHECK PARTY ******
Reef Check teams have expressed an interest in holding volunteer parties 
to celebrate the completion of their surveys. Team leaders have contacted 
us here at Headquarters to find out what plans or ideas other teams may have, 
to help them do some brainstorming.
The idea of a Reef Check party for the individual teams is fantastic, it gives
teams the opportunity to celebrate the successful completion of their part of 
the project. Ideally, it could be combined with a "survey completion" press
conference to increase the PR value.
So if you are planning to hold a party and have ideas on what form it may take
please send us the details so we can post them on the web site to share with 
other groups.

****** PANAMA ******
Reef Check Headquarters would like to send a fond farewell to Peter Collinson,
who has now departed Panama. Thanks to Peter for all his assistance in 
spearheading a Reef Check project in Panama! Peter was the Panama Coordinator 
for Reef Check, and now Angel Tribaldos has kindly stepped in to take over this
role. All inquiries should now be directed to: 
Angel Tribaldos <angeltri at>  Fax: 507-226-2020

****** SOUTHEASTERN USA ******
Florida Keys Update:  To date 16 people have been trained as trainers.  
Another 22 divers have been trained to conduct the surveys.  Currently 
over 15 additional volunteer divers are scheduled to be trained. Six Florida 
Keys National Marine Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs) and one control area 
have been surveyed. We have good data on all seven sites.
The program has appeared in several newspapers and magazines.  In late 
July, an Orlando, Florida TV station will film a Reef Check survey.  In 
addition, a program on The Learning Channel has shown an interest.
Mary Enstrom <menstrom at>

****** TAIWAN ******
The ReefCheck 97' for Taiwanese coral reef kicked off on 13 July, 
Sunday. Our society has executed Reef Check at two islands, both with 
wide media coverage. The first targeted reef was Hsiao-Liu-Chio, a 
coral reef island south-west near Taiwan (nearest distance is about 14 km).
The second reef is Green Island which is located in the east coast of Taiwan. 
This team was lead by Prof. Keryea Soong from 14-18 July.

At Hsiaoliuchiu 36 divers participated, and  9 divers participated at Green 
Island. A TV team was with us in Green Island, they plan to do a series 
report. The dates for Orchid Island, Nanwan and Penghu has been set on 
August 4-8, August 12-14 and August 15-18, respectively, each has a scientist 
in charge. We also plan to do it on our East coast and North-east coast, but a 
definite date not decided yet.
Allen Chen <allen at>  Fax: 886-7-5255027
Keryea Soong <keryea at>  Fax: 886-7-525-5100

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is coordinating 
Reef Check 97 on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). We will have 8 teams on 
the GBR, lead mostly by GBRMPA and Department of Environment (DoE) staff, 
and 1 dive tour operator (Undersea Explorer). We hope to cover around 22 
sites, including inshore and midshelf by reefs around Cairns (with Undersea 
Explorer, Lowe Isles Preservation Society, Nautilus Dive Club, James Cook 
University, Department of Primary Industries and DoE staff), Townsville (with 
the NQ Underwater Explorers Club), Whitsundays (with Order of Underwater Coral 
Heroes), Rockhampton (with Keppel Dive and Heron Is Resort) and even a few 
Coral Sea sites (Herald Cay with DoE and Osprey Reef with Undersea Explorer). 
Each area will have its own local launch where the media will be invited to a 
press conference. Launches will be staggered during the month of August.  
Wish us luck! Ray Berkelmans <rayb at>  Fax:  61-77-72-6093

We in Australia are busy with the program right now out on the Great 
Barrier Reef. At present Undersea Explorer is in the Ribbon Reefs with our 
on board biologist David Wachenfeld leading a group of LIPS volunteer 
reefcheckers. We are coordinating this with the Low Isles Preservation 
Society (LIPS), a local community group who co-manage the environment 
with the marine parks.
On Saturday 9th August a bunch of LIPS volunteers will work with Undersea 
Explorer to conduct ReefCheck surveys at Low Isles following on from the 
Undersea expedition. This will give us a useful cross shelf transect from Port 
Douglas to Low Isles, out to the Ribbon Reefs and into the remote Coral Sea at 
Osprey Reef. These are important sites as they are also research sites for many 
other Undersea Explorer projects so data can be linked and will be available 
into the future.
Andy Dunstan <adunstan at>  Fax: 61-70-99-5914

****** INDONESIA ******
So far 6 areas (Derawan, Taka Bonerate, Pulau Seribu, Sang Hyang, and Bunaken) 
have been surveyed, and data were compiled. Reefs around Derawan are in very 
good condition. Volunteers reported that during the check they encountered a 
school of Hammerhead sharks. In  August (21 - 24), we plan to conduct training 
for dive operators in Bali using reef check monitoring form. We had media 
coverage for the Taka Bonerate, and some of the journalists and TV crews who 
joined the reef check had introduction experience on scuba diving for the 
first time. Gayatri Lilley <Glilley at>  Fax: 62-21-739-5907

****** ISRAEL ******
Reef Check activities in Israel were a success!!
We have completed our survey activities in Israel for the summer of 1997,
and are in the phase of data processing and post-press coverage now. We
received sponsorship from the Israeli Dive Federation, the University of
Haifa, and one of the local scuba clubs. In addition we had support from
NAUI Israel who provided us with video coverage, and the Nature Reserve
Authority who participated in our pre-survey preparations. We are now
preparing the final report to be sent to headquarters. We stayed at the
InterUniversity Institute which has a dorm facilities right next to the
Coral Beach Nature Reserve. Our small, but dedicated group of 10
diver-researchers were hand picked from the University of Haifa/Tel Aviv
University Marine Studies graduate programs, and included specialists in
Coral, Fish, and Invertebrate identification. As expected we saw the
damaging effects of scuba diving and snorkeling on the coral reef
communities of Eilat, and hope to use this information to promote community
environmental awareness and conservation. The major TV channels have been
contacted, and made copies of the video footage, and the two major diving
magazines are writing full length, color-photo articles of the activities.
Results are on the way soon!
Joe Breman  <jbreman at>  Fax: 011-972-4-824-0391

****** SOUTH AFRICA ******
We have joined up with the South African Underwater Ecology Society
(SAUES) and have already conducted a reef check survey in Ponto 
Douro Mocambique. A further reef check survey is being negotiated in 
Natal South Africa. In September a beach clean up and reef check will be 
held in Ponto Douro. A media awareness campaign is underway involving 
press, radio and television. A coral reef photographic competition is being 
organised - the winning photos to be used in a calendar. We are also 
negotiating an IYOR awareness weekend for divers and school children.
Peta Hunter <explorer at>

****** SOUTHWESTERN USA ******
The Akumal Reef Check team lead by Dr. Judy Lang successfully completed
surveys on four sites near Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico. There were no
diveable 3 meter reefs so only 10 meter data was gathered. The volunteer
team performed very well and came away from the experience more educated
and much more concerned about the future of coral reefs. All volunteers
expressed great interest in being a part of future Reef Checks and local
community leaders have invited us back next year.
The event was covered by "Advanced Created Productions" and will be
included in an upcoming episode of "Caribbean Diving" which will air on
Network One sometime in November (exact air date is unknown at the moment).
The episode will include interviews with Judy and myself and underwater
clips of the volunteer team collecting data.
Shawn Brooks <sbrooks at>  Fax: 972-680-7114

****** RED SEA ******
The Red Sea Reef Check in Egypt has been running continuously over more
than seven weeks now (since mid-June). Eight ReefCheck groups have been
surveyed reefs in Egypt for approx. 2 weeks each! The team scientists,
coming from several countries in the world, each had "shifts" of approx.
two weeks and operated in co-operation with selected local facilities.

More than 25 sites were surveyed by the beginning of August. Two cities
received our main attention: Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. In addition a 2
week ReefCheck was conducted at Safaga, and also one week at Taba. The
project will be running until the end of August: so after ten weeks of Reef
Check we should have a good impression of the status of the reefs around
our "ReefCheck areas".

Gert Woerheide (Sharm) and Georg Heiss (Hurghada) were the first team
leaders in June who brought the project smoothly on the run. They were both
able to work from the beginning with volunteers, due to the support of the
staff of the diving centres, who did a very good great job in making the
project public to the guests!
Since then Moshira, Friedhelm Grothe, Astrid Haas and Raquel Gomez have
acted as group leaders in Sharm el Sheikh. In Hurghada: Anya Salih and
Marcos Gektidis were very active! Michael Eisinger was in Safaga and also
spent a week in the region of Taba.
It was a great job of all the team leaders!!! Arriving at their ReefCheck
site they had to recruit volunteers for the ReefCheck surveys from the
diving tourists.  Getting people, who are on vacation, to change their
schedule and participate in ReefCheck required a lot of patience and
motivation work. The team scientists gave slide shows, talked to the
tourists again and again, as well as to the dive guides and instructors at
the diving centres. They must have answered about a thousand interested
questions.  It was a "full time job", starting early in the morning, often
lasting until 10 p.m. or later. Most of the time we enjoyed the work
nevertheless; it is very rewarding when people get interested!

In addition to the ReefCheck activities the team leaders gave weekly public
slide shows about IYOR and ReefCheck:  to spread the message of both IYOR
and ReefCheck, and to motivate the people to participate as volunteers.

Georg Heiss had prepared slides for this occasion: bilingual slides
(German/English) about the general goals of IYOR, ReefCheck, as well as the
detailed methods descriptions and species. We are very proud, that the
Israeli ReefCheck group, led by Joe Breman, used these slides as well as
our plastified identification cards for their ReefCheck at Eilat!!

Gert Woerheide convinced Nikon Germany to sponsor us: They lent us 2
underwater cameras (Nikonos V with flash) for the site documentation. Georg
got 30 films for free.
Airaqua offered us flights at greatly reduced rates.

Moshira had organized very generous conditions with local facilities:
diving centers, hotels,  dive shop and others:
The Diving Centres offered free diving for the team scientists, often even
for more than one scientist at a time. (Sinai Divers in SHARM EL SHEIKH;
Jasmin Diving Centre in HURGHADA; Shams Safaga in PORT SAFAGA)
Sinai Divers extended its generosity towards all dive guides or diving
instructors in Sharm el Sheikh: Anybody working in the diving industry who
wished to actively participate in ReefCheck could join one of the ReefCheck
groups if there was room available. So in fact, often 4-5 people were doing
ReefCheck for free!
The group leaders had free accommodation and half board. The Ghazalla Hotel
in Sharm often accommodated and fed 2 scientists, the Jasmin and Shams
Safaga were even so generous as to give the team leaders full board for the
group and reductions on all hotel bills.
Despite some problems with one authority in Egypt, those who initially
supported IYOR and ReefCheck stood by the word they had given Moshira. Also
the diving centres, knowing of the difficulties we had encountered decided
to proceed with ReefCheck and risk the displeasure of the government. It
was solely trust in Moshira and the conviction that ReefCheck is a
necessity if we want to save Egypt's coral reefs that led them to this
decision. We are all very grateful for this support.

A German TV team has been down in Sharm and made a 8 min feature about the
Reef Check project with the co-ordinators. The feature was broadcasted in
the German TV during a special show about the International Year of the
Reef on July 13.

The areas around Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh became fast growing tourist
centres since a couple of  years and effects on the reefs are caused by the
still increasing number of divers and also by the hotel construction
activities. Reefs in Egypt are generally still in a comparably good state,
but quick action is needed to protect them from further damage. There are
local initiatives to conserve the reefs towards a positive and sustainable
reef management. HEPCA in Hurghada are doing their best. The National Park
has executive power over the entire region of Sinai and has achieved a lot
over the last years. Nevertheless, it is a continuous battle of interests:
fast money at the expense of the environment, versus sustainable use of the
With ReefCheck scientists have endeavoured out and have taken up contact
with some groups that have a stake in coral reefs. We are still collecting
data. Our effort already achieved the "reaching out effect". Divers and the
facilities we have co-operated with are already hoping for a new ReefCheck
in 1998. They would like to participate in the next years and do all they
can to support us.
That is a success!!

If you need more information  about the Red Sea ReefCheck, please contact us.
Moshira Hassan <mhassan at>  Fax: 49-431-600-2941
Gert Woerheide <gwoerhe at>  Fax: 49-(0)30-282-5406
or visit our homepage for a detailed project outline.

We apologize for any errors or omissions of  news about your site. Please send 
us a brief report on work completed by August for the September update. To 
join Reef Check, please contact your nearest National or Regional Coordinator 
listed on the web site, or Reef Check Headquarters as soon as possible.

Suzie Geermans, Assistant Reef Check Coordinator
Institute for Environment and Sustainable Development
Research Centre, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Clearwater Bay, Kowloon, HONG KONG
Tel: (852) 2358-6906  Fax: (852) 2358-1582
e-mail: reefchck at  Reef Check:

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list