Reef Check Update II

gregorh at gregorh at
Sat Dec 14 11:57:15 EST 1996

Reef Check Update II 


Reef Check 1997 is a global volunteer effort by groups of divers 
led by experienced marine scientists to carry out targetted, 
scientifically based, coral reef surveys. These special surveys 
will use the most simple techniques possible to determine whether 
specific human impacts have affected coral reefs. The ultimate 
goal is to generate publicity for coral reef research and 
conservation by demonstrating that reefs around the world, 
possibly including those believed to be relatively "pristine," 
have been affected by human activities. 


Reef Check 1997 is an official International Year of the Reef 
activity designed by IYOR committee members. It has been 
enthusiatically supported by hundreds of scientists and divers 
around the world. Due to the unexpectedly large numbers of groups 
interested in participating in Reef Check, we are currently 
dividing up responsibility for Reef Check among several regional 
centers. We are planning two centers in the US, one in UK, one 
in Germany, one in Hong Kong, and one in Australia. We would 
welcome volunteers to create additional regional centers in other 
parts of the world e.g. Africa, South America, Central America. 
Due to the size of the operation, Reef Check headquarters has 
been moved to the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Hong 
Kong University of Science and Technology. We are currently in 
the process of hiring staff to maintain the database and respond 
to inquiries. 


Reef Check was originally planned to be completed in June 1997, 
however, for a variety of reasons, we have accepted 
recommendations that we change the plan slightly. The revised 
Reef Check schedule will open the field monitoring operations on 
Ocean Day, 14 June 1997, and field work may be carried out up to 
the end of August 1997. The planned reporting period will be 
during the first week of September 1997. We are currently 
negotiating with various PR groups and television companies to 
help disseminate our message worldwide. We would like to have 
spokespeople around the world who can be interviewed live in 
various languages. We would also hope to get some real-time 
underwater coverage of human impacts on coral reefs. A detailed 
reporting schedule will be released once these negotiations have 
been completed. 

Field Methods: 

The draft Reef Check Core methods have been posted in a separate 
message. Care has been taken to try to match these methods as 
closely as possible with existing methods, especially the 
Australian-ASEAN and ICLARM Aquanaut protocols. However, due to 
the narrow focus of the Reef Check project to detect human 
impacts, there are some differences, mainly simplifications. For 
example, there is no reason to record coral growth forms for Reef 
Check and this parameter has been omitted. But methods to count 
a number of commonly harvested reef organisms such as lobster and 
grouper have been included. If anyone has strong feelings that 
we have omitted something, or ought to reconsider any method, 
please let us know. 
     In addition to the Core Methods, any additional survey work 
that groups feel like doing can be carried out. If the results 
are pertinent to the theme of Reef Check, they may be adopted or 
at least reported to the media as an extra. 

Data Processing: 

Each diver group will be responsible for processing its own data. 
This will be a very simple procedure of generating count 
summaries, totals and means. These will be submitted to regional 
centers for compilation, and finally to headquarters. For the 
purpose of PR we do not envisage carrying out a great deal of 
high powered statistics, but rather reporting percentages of 
reefs around the world affected by various types of human 
impacts. The data will however have scientific value and will be 
available for all to work with in more detail. Permission will 
be sought from all groups to allow us to prepare a summary paper. 


Each Reef Check group will consist of a minimum of one qualified 
reef scientist who can recognise the organisms listed in the 
protocols, and a group of divers who can be trained to carry out 
most of the work. The methods have been designed to be as simple 
as possible so that high school students can participate. A 
practical group size would be 4 pairs of divers, 1 pair per 
transect, however, larger or smaller groups could be accomodated. 
Divers should be sufficiently experienced that they are able to 
perform simple work underwater. It is up to the scientific leader 
to decide if the group members are adequately qualified to 
undertake the work. Group leaders should carefully check what the 
liability may be in their area, and may need to take precautions 
such as asking participants to sign liability waivers for this 
volunteer activity. 

Available Sites/ Groups: 

A list of survey sites and groups will be posted in January. New 
groups should try to choose new sites to avoid overlap and 
increase coverage.  


Please send inquiries to  (But note that office will not be 
manned until 1 January): 

Gregor Hodgson, PhD 
Reef Check Coordinator 
Institute for Environmental Studies 
HK University of Science and Technology 
Clearwater Bay, Kowloon 
Hong Kong 
e-mail: rcgregor at 
Fax:  (852) 2358-1582 

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