[Coral-List] reef monitoring protocols using snorkel gear

Elizabeth Tyler ehtyler at googlemail.com
Tue May 6 05:10:46 EDT 2008

Dear William,

Using snorkel gear for monitoring can in some cases be the only way of
making monitoring truly sustainable in the long-term. There are several

You will obviously be limited by depth, and can't really expect to get data
from more than 4 m (especially if it involves frequent duck-diving to
measure benthic variables), so the reef flat or crest are the only zones,
and even then, you might have to be careful with tides. This means that you
might not capture larger fish in your monitoring, which may occur deeper.
Generally, snorkelling is harder work and it can be more difficult to carry
equipment out to sites, so you might have to streamline your methods.
Methods for measuring benthic habitat need to be chosen quite carefully- the
Line Intercept Transect method (LIT) is not feasible, because you need to
look closely at a transect tape on the bottom. Counting variables in tiny
1cm x 1cm squares in quadrats can be quite hard work too. The Point
Intercept Technique (PIT) might be OK because you drop a plumb line and can
observe from the surface.

I helped to design a monitoring programme for Chumbe Island Coral Park in
Tanzania, E. Africa in collaboration with the Conservation Coordinator and
rangers. The rangers are collecing all the data using snorkel gear. We are
measuring benthic variables in 5 m radii around permanent markers, because
we found it easier to search for and count variables such as urchins, COTs,
incidences of bleaching and disease in a radius rather than swimming along a
transect. However, we are conducting fish surveys using 50 m transects (from
permanent marker to marker).

If you would like a copy of our current manual for this programme, please
let us know. We would also be interested in any other feedback you get on
this subject.

Yours sincerely,
Elizabeth Tyler (University of Cambridge) and
Mr. Anders Knudby (Conservation Coordinator, Chumbe Island Coral Park)

On 5/5/08, William Donaldson <wdonaldson1 at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I am looking for appropriate coral reef assessment and long term
> monitoring methods using snorkel gear only. This work is in relation to
> establishing a marine protected area in the S. Pacific.
> Are there sites or pubs you could refer me to?
> Thanks
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Dr. Elizabeth Tyler
Postdoctoral Researcher
Evolutionary Ecology Group
Zoology Department, University of Cambridge
Downing St. Cambridge CB2 3EJ UK
Tel +44 1223 767129

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