Home Environment Reef Check - The Global Survey of Coral Reefs

Reef Check - The Global Survey of Coral Reefs


By: Dipl. Biol. Constanze Cornad


Why do we care about coral reefs? Coral reefs are the "rainforests of the sea" - the second most diverse ecosystem in the world. They provide food for 100 million coastal people, are a source of new medicine, play an important role in coastal protection from erosion, and are a major attraction for millions of tourists and scuba divers. Despite their importance, little has been done to understand how coral reef organisms respond to human activities.   

Reef Check is the largest volunteer-driven international coral reef monitoring program involving recreational scuba divers and marine scientists. Dr. Gregor Hodgson founded this charitable foundation in 1997, the "International Year of the Reef" and in its 7th year is still a great success. Reef Checks' aims are to collect scientific data on coral reef health and to create an international network of teams. In addition to producing valuable scientific results, Reef Check raised the public awareness about the value of coral reefs.

What is the health of coral reefs globally? Scientists have been monitoring coral reefs since the time of Darwin. Nevertheless, there was not enough information available to form a picture of the status of the world's reefs. With Reef Check, a detailed method was designed to investigate community ecology and include measurements of many parameters that may not be affected when coral reef health is damaged. It is very important to investigate human impacts on coral reefs, because those are the impacts that are preventable.

Marine scientists wanted to know "what is the health of the world's reefs?" Before Reef Check, science failed to give answers, because of too few study sites, too few scientists with too little time on reefs and only a few long-term studies. To get answers on a global scale, a simple, rapid monitoring program was designed that relied on volunteers, trained and led by marine scientists - Reef Check. For the first time scientists were able to compare worldwide data and to track global trends, such as the 1998 bleaching event.

Today Reef Check surveys have been carried out at over 1000 reefs in 50 countries, more than 1000 divers and more than 160 scientists are involved in the program.


Reef Check Egypt
2003 continues to be a great success for Reef Check Egypt. Beside a Reef Check in Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab, two Reef Check programs were conducted at Tondoba Bay, a new dive destination south of Marsa Alam.

The activities were organized and sponsored again by Blue Heaven Holidays. More than 40 volunteers who came from Europe, USA and Egypt took part in the activities. Some Reef Check veterans were joining for the second and third time.

Reef Check Team Tondoba Bay evaluated 15 reefs, most of them new sites that had not been surveyed before. It gave a good overview of the health of coral reefs of the Egyptian Red Sea and confirmed the results of the years before, which is that the reefs of the Red Sea are the healthiest in the world (best ratio of living hard corals).

Surveys on the so far untouched reefs of Tondoba Bay will continue in 2004 to follow up the impact of an up and coming new diving destination.

Reef Check Egypt would like to send a special thanks to Blue Heaven Holidays, Bedouin Valley Lodge and all of the volunteers who helped make this activity a great success.

What you can do!
There are simple solutions to the coral reef crisis, Reef Check is one of them, but we all need to work together to successfully save the reefs.

 

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