Reef Check Update - May 1997

HODGSON GREGOR reefchck at
Mon May 5 05:34:49 EDT 1997

Reef Check Update - May 1997

Reef Check 1997 is an exciting volunteer initiative to carry out the first 
global survey of coral reefs as part of  the International Year of the Reef. 
Teams of recreational divers are being trained by experienced reef scientists 
who will also lead the field work. The surveys will be carried out between 14 
June 1997 (Oceans Day) and 31 August. Simple techniques have been selected to 
detect specific human impacts such as spearfishing, cyanide fishing, sea 
cucumber harvesting, anchor damage to corals etc. The twin Reef Check 
objectives are to obtain a global overview of human impacts on coral reefs and 
to focus the attention of the public, business and government leaders on the 
value and status of coral reefs and potential threats to their health. This 
publicity should help to generate more support for coral reef research and 

As of 30 April, more than 100 teams from 35 countries have pledged to 
undertake Reef Check surveys. Many teams are planning to survey more than one 
site, therefore well over the initial goal of 100 reef sites will be surveyed 
as part of Reef Check 1997.

Since the initial announcement in Reef Encounter No. 20, Reef Check 
Headquarters was formally set up in the recently renamed Institute for 
Environment and Sustainable Development at Hong Kong University of Science and 
Technology (HKUST). The HKUST Research Centre has kindly provided funds to hire
an Assistant Coordinator, Australian Ms. Suzie Geermans, as well as donating 
office space, clerical and computer support. In addition, there are now eleven 
National and Regional Coordinators located around the world to help organize 
team activities.

The Web site ( has been up-dated, and new 
pages have been added to cover fund-raising, media interactions, data 
collection and analysis, as well as photographs of many of the common species 
to be recorded. Even hardened reef scientists will want to have a look at the 
holothurian photos prior to attempting underwater IDs!

Data will be collected throughout the summer. Press conferences will be held 
in each country on 10 September to announce the local, regional and national 
results, and an international press conference will be held in Hong Kong. Both 
CNN and BBC have expressed interest in covering these events.

In April, a California film production company, Thomas Horton Associates, 
experienced with producing Cousteau-type underwater documentaries agreed to 
produce a Reef Check video series to be shown on Discovery Channel. This is a 
major selling point for potential resort and hotel sponsors. We will be 
selecting a number of sites to be featured in the documentary.

Also in April, the Reef Check methods underwent another round of field testing 
in Hong Kong thanks to the support of recreational volunteers from the South 
China Divers' Club and YMCA. Some minor fine tuning was suggested to smooth 
operations and these changes have been added to the web page instructions. A 
brief summary of regional activities is given below:

Gayatri Lilley of WWF, has volunteered to be the Regional Coordinator for 
Indonesia. In April, she organized a press conference which resulted in heavy 
coverage in all major English and Bahasa newspapers and TV, and attracted the 
support of four Government Ministers and key institutes and departments. With 
about 17,500 islands stretching six and a half million kilometers from east to 
west and 81,000 kilometers of coastline, Indonesia harbors some of the world's 
richest coral reefs. Surveys are planned in Bali, Maluku, Seribu, Karimun Jawa,
Taka Bone Rete, Sulawesi and Teluk Cenderawasih, Irian Jaya. Gayatri has also 
produced a lovely 3-color logo for Reef Check Indonesia. Contact Gayatri at: 
<glilley at> Fax: 62 21 739-5907

****** ALOHA FROM KAUAI, USA ******
We are doing Reef Check surveys at the Clean Oceans Conference on Kauai, June 
14, 1997, and are also having a coral reef monitoring workshop. Scientists 
lending a hand will be Drs. James Maragos, Richard Grigg, Cindy Hunter, Brian 
Tissot, Alan Friedlander, and John McManus. A host of local celebrities, 
students, politicians and other notables will attend. Carl M. Stepath 
<sos at> Fax: 808 826-7770

****** GERMANY/RED SEA ******
Moshira Hassan and Gert Woerheide have been successful in working through the 
Egyptian bureaucracy and gaining permission for Reef Check to go forward in 
Sharm el Sheikh, Sinai, Hurghada, Taba, and Safaga, Egypt. Team leaders will 
include biologists from the University of Goettingen, GEOMAR, the University 
of Giessen, the University of Glasgow, Scotland, CEREGE in France, the 
University of Sydney in Australia, the University of Heidelberg, the Marine 
Conservation Society in the United Kingdom and the University of Bologna in 
Italy. Moshira Hassan  <mhassan at> Fax: 49 431 600-2941 
Gert Woerheide <gwoerhe at> Fax: 49 551 39-7996

In Israel, we are planning a survey for late July - early August, and have 
organized a small team of dedicated divers; graduate students and PhD's at the 
University of Haifa's Marine Civilizations Department. Our plan is to survey 
the southern portion of the Coral Garden Nature reserve, and our goal is to 
make a comparative check of the areas in front of dive centers, and those 
further to the south. We hope to use this information to promote community 
environmental awareness and conservation. As we are sharing the same wonderful 
sea conditions and marine life as our Egyptian neighbors, we hope for some 
combined involvement which may enable us to make some cooperative surveys in 
the Sinai Peninsula. Any questions or comments please contact Joe Breman at 
<jbreman at> Fax: 972 4824-0391

****** EASTERN USA ******
For Florida Keys Reef Check, we will be training "trainers" on June 7. In May 
we will be recruiting from our list of about 400 volunteers. We already have 
volunteer vessels committed throughout the Keys. Reef Check surveys will be 
carried out each weekend throughout the open period. The trainers will be 
training new volunteers throughout the summer and other trained volunteers will
be monitoring.  I think we will have a great deal of data by summer's end!
Mary Enstrom <menstrom at>

****** SOUTHWESTERN USA ******
We are organizing week-long Reef Check expeditions to Belize, Cozumel, and the 
Mexican Yucatan.  We are working with Drs Judy Lang, Mito Paz, Chagin and  
Thomas Iliffe as well as with Journey's End Resort in Belize. We have a Reef 
Check exhibit at the Dive Dallas Exposition. There will be an IYOR Reef Check 
Sport Divers Workshop and Coral Reef Conference 22-26 June at Journey's End 
Resort in Belize. Houston news media, both television and newspaper, Skin Diver 
Magazine, and Belize Media will be reporting on the Conference and Reef Check 
research being conducted by participating sport divers and resort guests. For 
conference information, please visit the Journey's End Website at or contact Kathy Love, Corporate and 
Scientific Telecommunication Productions <ATACAST at> Fax: 281 438-0905
Reef Check Coordinator Shawn Brooks <sbrooks at> Fax: 972 680-7114

****** COLUMBIA ******
The Columbian Society for Coral Reef Studies, SCAR, with the support of several
governmental institutions, has planned many activities for IYOR including Reef 
Check. SCAR gives information through the homepage:

Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, INVEMAR and MUSEO DEL MAR present the 
stickers, posters and calendars of IYOR. Newspapers and television publish the 
objectives of IYOR. Nohora Galvis keeps in touch with the organizers of REEF 
CHECK 97 to develop this program in Columbia.
Nohora Galvis <ngalvis at>

The newly opened Sanya Marine Laboratory on Hainan Island will be the site of 
China's Reef Check operation during June. The laboratory is jointly operated by
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and the South China Sea 
Institute of Oceanology. Recreational divers from Hong Kong will be joined by 
scientists from HKUST and several Chinese agencies. Contact Hong Kong 
Headquarters for information at <reefchck at> Fax: 852 2358-1582

*****HONG KONG****
The Hong Kong Marine Conservation Society has organized an ambitious program 
for Hong Kong Reef Checkers including surveys of South China Sea atolls Pratas 
Reef, Macclesfield Bank, and the Paracels. In addition to club teams, student 
teams include Hong Kong University, Chinese University and HKUST. 
Marc Smith-Evans <marcse at> Fax: 852 2546-2659

We apologize for any omissions of news about your site. Please send us your 
latest news for inclusion in the next update. To join Reef Check, please 
contact your nearest National or Regional Coordinator 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
e-mail: reefchck at
Reef Check:

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