Reef Check Newsletter: The Transect Line, Summer 2001.

Reef.Check.Headquarters Reef.Check.Headquarters
Sun Aug 12 08:54:13 EDT 2001

[Note: This message was unfortunately delayed in posting.]


Reef Check Headquarters announces the debut issue of The Transect Line, News
from the Reef Check Global Network.  Volume I, Issue I, Summer 2001.

For a full color newsletter, including photographs and illustrations of
recent activities click on

The text and articles without graphics are included below:

Reef Check Teams in Action
 - Indonesia: Coral Reefs hit the pop charts!
 - Reef Check Hawaii
 - Return of Reef Check Israel.
 - BVI, Association of Reef Keepers

Spotlight on Reef Check Site
 - Cocos (Keeling), Australia.

Training Workshops/Meetings
 - Training Workshop in Guangxi.
 - Regional Training Center in Phuket hosts first International Training of
Trainers Workshop.
 - Reef Check and CANARI hold workshop in the Eastern Caribbean.

Methods Check
- Why the wait for the fish?

Other News
 - Reef Check gets Non-Profit Tax Status in US.
 - MAC monitoring protocols.
 - Reef Check part of Coral Reef Adventure.

Reef Check Teams in Action

Indonesia: Coral Reefs hit the pop charts.
A national training workshop in Bali (July 23-27) included training
volunteers from throughout SE Asia. Volunteers from several islands
throughout the archipelago, including Sumatra, Bali, Java, and Sulawesi,
attended the workshop to build capacity for coral reef conservation and
strengthen the relationship between Reef Check Indonesia and WWF’s Wallacea
program. Funded by a grant from an anonymous donor and the East-Asia Pacific
Environment Initiative, attendees included 3 dive instructors from
Lumba-Lumba divers, a dive operation on Pulau Weh (an island off the north
coast of Aceh in Western Indonesia).
A frequently repeated question is: How to raise awareness among young people
about the coral reef crisis?  An innovative solution was found in Indonesia.
Nugie, a popular Indonesian singer, is topping the pop charts with his new
song, 'Hingga ke Terumbu Karang' (Up To the Reef). Working with Friends of
the Reef and Reef Check Indonesia, Nugie wrote his song to promotes coral
reef conservation and relate the impacts of poorly planned development on
land to the impacts on downstream coral reefs.  Featured on MTV Asia, the
song has raised awareness and knowledge among the younger generation. In
another recent educational program, Reef Check and Friends of the Reef, an
NGO dedicated to coral reef conservation, held a drawing competition among
elementary school children in Bali. The children were taught about coral
reef ecology and conservation and asked to draw pictures of themselves as
fish.  We received hundreds of beautiful drawings from talented children and
have included one winning entry here -- "If I were a Fish" by Angelina K.
Winna, St. Yoseph's elementary school.

Reef Check Oahu
Funded by a grant from NOAA and the State of Hawaii Coastal Zone Management
Program, Reef Check Hawaii has expanded to include all the major Hawaiian
Islands. Activities on Oahu include  bi-monthly surveys of reefs around the
island. Recent trainees at the Waikiki Aquarium were lucky enough to observe
a major coral spawning event in one of the tanks.

Return of Reef Check Israel
Israel: After a two-year hiatus, Reef Check Israel is back in action! The
team is led by Yael Rogel, a marine biologist studying at the
Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences of Eilat. Yael’s team surveyed
sites near the Princess Hotel Beach and in the Coral Reserve of Eliat, sites

first checked by RC scientists in 1997. Her group also worked with "Friends
of the Earth" to coordinate activities in the Coral Reserve of Eilat (part
of the Marine Peace Park and a joint venture between Israel and Jordan). We
look forward to continued collaboration with the Marine Peace Park and RC

British Virgin Islands: Association of Reef Keepers
 The Association of Reef Keepers (ARK) is once again carrying out Reef Check
surveys. Four permanent sites are surveyed each year by Reef Check teams,
including sites on Pelican Island, Norman Island, and Great Camanoe. ARK is
partially supported by the National Parks Trust and Conservation and
Fisheries. Trish Bailey, who has arranged sponsorship from several local
dive companies and boat owners in BVI, coordinates activities. Special
thanks to this team for their hard work getting sponsors!

Spotlight on Reef Check Site
Cocos (Keeling), Australia.
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a remote coral atoll made up of 27 islands
surrounding a central turquoise colored lagoon. These reefs are some of the
most remote in the world, situated in the Indian Ocean 2,950 km northwest of
Perth, Australia and 900 km southwest of Christmas Island.
The 27 islands are formed on two small, isolated mid oceanic atolls. One
solitary island 24 km to the north of the main atoll is North Keeling, now
known as Pulu Keeling National Park. Only two of the 27 islands are
inhabited by a population of 600 Cocos Malay and 100 government servants
from Australia. The 26 islands that make up the southern atoll cover a total
landmass 14 km2. The islands have been a focus of coral atoll research since
the days when Charles Darwin visited the atoll in April 1836. On his voyage
home after a three-year journey aboard the HMS Beagle, Darwin stayed on
Cocos for ten days and recorded evidence to support his theory of coral
atoll formation.

Robert (Greenie) Thorn  has been volunteering his time as Reef Check
coordinator in Cocos since 1997. Greenie is a horticulturalist and
conservationist who works for Parks Australia. He and Wendy Murray, RC
volunteer, annually organize and participate in Clean Up Australia Day
activities on land and underwater around Cocos and assist the Cocos school
with environmental activities such as surveying fish nursery areas,
endangered species discussions and environmental activities. Additional Reef
Check activities in Cocos include working with various clubs, private
businesses and other government and non-government agencies to install
mooring buoys around the islands for commercial dive operations. The
moorings program has installed 23 public moorings at 9 locations around
Cocos.  Greenie and Wendy plan to install 11 permanent monitoring sites this
year which will bring the total Reef Check sites to 16. For more information
about Reef Check in Cocos, contact Greenie at Robert.Thorn at Thanks
Greenie, Wendy, and everyone on the Cocos RC team!

Trainings and Workshops
Guangxi Autonomous Region, China Provincial Training
Guanxi, the southernmost mainland region of the People’s Republic of China,
is an important reef area with coastal fringing and offshore reefs. A US
NOAA/NOS International-sponsored RC training workshop was held in Guangxi,
China, June 22-30. Thunderstorms and bad weather prevailed, but Reef Check
Hong Kong coordinator and trainer Keith Kei was able train nine local
government officials, including representatives from the Guangxi Oceanic
Administration and the Institute of Oceanography, as well as four volunteers
from local dive shops. Thanks Keith!
RC Training Center in Phuket hosts first SE Asian Regional Training of
The Reef Check Regional Training Center at the Phuket Marine Biological
Center (PMBC) hosted its first international training from June 25-30th.
Participants included representatives from Indonesia, Cambodia, China,
Vietnam and Thailand.  Dive shop operators from Thailand, Indonesia, and
Malaysia also attended, along with volunteers from England, Canada, and the
USA. PMBC senior scientist, Dr. Hansa Chansang, Thai RC coordinator Pinya
Sarasas, and RC Thailand scientist Niphon Phongsuwan, received awards from
RC Program Manager Jennifer Liebeler for their dedication and work in
setting up the regional training center. Special thanks to the Thai
Department of Fisheries for donating the R/V Chakrathong Thongya for use
during the workshop. Workshop participants spent three days aboard the
research vessel, conducting training and Reef Check surveys on the reefs in
Thon Sai Bay, Phi-Phi Island, in the Gulf of Thailand. All participants are
now certified as Reef Check trainers and will be expanding Reef Check
monitoring, education, and management programs in their respective
countries. The workshop was funded by a grant from the USAID/US State
Department East Asia Pacific Environment Program. The next regional training
will be held in December 2001, contact RC headquarters or Pinya Sarasas,
Pinya at for more information or to sponsor a participant.

UNEP GCRMN/RC Regional Training Workshop: Eastern Caribbean

Allan Smith, of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), in
collaboration with Kai Wulf of the Soufriere Marine Management Authority
(SMMA) and Reef Check Director Gregor Hodgson, conducted a training of
trainers workshop for GCRMN/Reef Check in Soufriere, St. Lucia from July
11-13th. The Workshop,  funded by the Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit
of the United Nations Environment Program promoted the establishment of
sustainable coral reef education, monitoring and management programs in
eight nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, St.
Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. For most
countries, participants were pairs – one dive operator and one government
officer. UNEP is building on its success in other parts of the world
promoting the use of the Reef Check community-level monitoring program as an
entry point for nations trying to monitor and manage their coastal
resources. Participants interviewed after the training commented that Reef
Check is particularly well-suited for use in the Caribbean due to its low
cost, rapid training, low taxonomic requirements and the high information
content of the results. All participants signed on as new RC coordinators
and developed implementation plans for 2001-2 (contact us for a list or see
our website). It was particularly helpful for participants to observe how
the well-run SMMA is using Reef Check to evaluate management successes. SMMA
is an excellent model for the Caribbean.

Methods Check
Why the wait for the fish?
In each issue of The Transect Line, we will be highlighting a part of the
Reef Check's methodology to try and answer some of our volunteer's
frequently asked questions. People often ask, "Why wait for the fish?"
Fish are disturbed by divers, especially divers using scuba. Many retreat
into holes and crevices in the reef and others may swim away. Reef Check
methods specify that divers or snorkelers conducting the fish transect are
to wait 15 minutes after the transect line has been laid down before
starting the survey in order to let the fish return to the disturbed area
and come out of hiding. Once the 15-minute waiting period has passed and the
count has begun, the divers must also stop every 5 meters, wait for 1-3
minutes, then swim slowly for 5 meters- counting fish only while they are
swimming. The intention of the waiting period is to allow timid fish, to
swim out and be counted. Care should be taken not to double-count fish that
swim through the belt-transect more than once. By using this standard method
of counting all over the world, results can be compared between regions.

Other News
Reef Check gets Non-Profit Tax Status in US.
The Reef Check Foundation, a registered charity in Hong Kong since 1997, is
now a fully registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in the US.  Program
Manager Jennifer Liebeler, who comes from a family of attorneys, piloted the
legal terrain to achieve this important goal. This status allows RC to
accept tax deductible contributions in the US – a major step in building up
the organization. In addition, a board of Directors has been appointed and a
scientific and technical advisory committee is being expanded and
formalized. We welcome Scott Campbell, Irmelin DiCaprio and Eric Cohen to
the Board.

A gift of $100 allows you to sponsor a Reef Check team of your choice. For
more information on team locations, please visit our website at You can also donate any amount directly over the internet
by clicking on the button at right.  Reef Check also accepts tax-deductible
donations of scuba gear, underwater photo/video gear, airplane
tickets/frequent flyer miles, and lodging and boat time for survey teams.
For additional information on how you can help Reef Check, please contact
our Development Director, Jarrett Smith at 1-310-794-4985.

Upcoming MAC meeting in August
Reef Check continues to work with the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) to
conserve coral reefs and other marine habitats. Reef Check director Gregor
Hodgson met with representatives from industry, government agencies and
non-government organizations from most coral exporting countries in Jakarta
at the International Workshop on the Trade in Coral and Live Rock. Based on
input from all parties, Reef Check has drafted a set of scientifically
rigorous assessment protocols for use by independent groups to monitor the
effects of the certified marine aquarium trade operations on the health of
the coral reef and the populations of harvested species and live rock. The
MAC Science and Monitoring Advisory Committee will be meeting with Reef
Check representatives in Honolulu in August to complete the final monitoring

Successful filming of RC for Coral Reef Adventure
On May 2nd, a huge IMAX camera captured renowned underwater cinematographers
and authors Howard and Michele Hall, training a group of Tahitians in Reef
Check methods under the picturesque mountains of Moorea. The IMAX film "The
Coral Reef Adventure" produced by MacGillivray Freeman Films, is a
celebration of the beauty and majesty of tropical coral reefs. We would like
to thank the film crew, Howard and Michele Hall and Greg MacGillivray for
inviting RC to participate in the film, and the crew of the Undersea Hunter
for their hospitality. Special thanks to UCLA graduate student Craig Shuman
for training Howard and Michele and coordinating the Reef Check activities.
Look for Coral Reef Adventure in large format theaters in February 2003.

Questions? Comments? E-mail rcheck at

Should you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please let us know by
sending an e-mail to rcheck at or replying to this e-mail.

Reef Check Headquarters
Institute of the Environment
1652 Hershey Hall 149607
University of California at Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496 USA
Rcheck at

For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
digests, please visit, click on Popular on the
menu bar, then click on Coral-List Listserver.

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list