Aug 24, 2007

Volunteer monitoring CAN make a difference!

Volunteer monitoring of marine life CAN make a difference!

Here's some background on coral reef data
gathered by volunteers ...

From "Avoiding a Coral Catastrophe"
By Krista Mahr Time 23 Aug 07
also on wildsingapore

Bruno* says more coral data is being gathered today by NGOs than universities or national programs, particularly in developing nations.

But even in the U.S., NOAA's satellite-data program, alert system and monitoring are second to the larger network of local groups and governments keeping watch over the U.S. reefs.

"Nobody wants to pay for monitoring because it's boring," says Hodgson**.

That's why he founded Reef Check. Realizing that one man's chore might be another's hobby, Hodgson decided to fill the information gap by enlisting people who would be naturally interested in saving coral: scuba divers.

In 1997 he created a global network of volunteer snorkelers and divers, specially trained by scientists to monitor reefs using a standardized checklist. Over the past 10 years, Reef Check's volunteers have amassed a bounty of data on the world's coral.

"In the beginning, people were looking down on us, saying 'Oh, you guys are just volunteers,'" Hodgson recalls. Now, Reef Check has become one of the primary sources of scientific information about the health of coral.

*John Bruno, lead author of the study by researchers at the University of North Carolina in the U.S.: The world's first comprehensive study on coral in the Indo-Pacific region, home to 75% of the world's coral reefs, focusing on waters from Japan to Australia and east to Hawaii.

**Gregor Hodgson, executive director of the coral monitoring organization Reef Check Foundation.

Reef Check website
In Singapore, the Blue Water Volunteers conduct reef monitoring and submit data to Reef Check.

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