A big part of our daily life now is the need to raise awareness of environmental issues. Most young people care about environmental issues and I think most genuinely want to help, but knowing what to do is not always easy.
Whatever your reason for wanting to be part of any program, you have the ability to do so no matter your age, your means, or your background. It’s people like you, people who believe they have the power to make a difference, who end up changing the world for the better.
As the Global Reef Check Trainer for Emirates Diving Association (EDA) I get asked a lot about how people can get involved more with environmental and eco-friendly programs which, don’t cost a bomb or take up a lot of time.
There are many programs out there nowadays so it really depends where your interest and passion lies. If you live in the UAE there are many programs you can get involved in including dolphins, turtles and even sharks. If you are interested in knowing more about our marine environment, collecting data from our local reefs and getting more out of your dives, the Reef Check course may be just what you’re looking for. Divers and snorkelers in some regions will learn about our local ecosystems and will be able to participate in our scheduled survey dives, which will help us to understand the threats our corals are facing by providing important data.
About Reef Check
Reef Check is a coral reef monitoring program that uses standard and simple methodology to collect scientific data. Although its main objective is the study of coral reef’s health, it also looks to educate the public about coral reef crisis, induce local community action to protect remaining healthy corals and contribute to economically sustainable solutions.
As an example, Biosphere Expeditions over the past few years now has conducted reef check for the Omani Government to survey the coral reefs in the Musandam Peninsula. The 2 week expedition includes divers conducting surveys and collecting data and meetings with local schools in the area. The data collected, by general divers, not scientists, is all placed in a report and enables the Omani authorities to discuss and change environmental policy relevant to one of the major tourist attractions.
This Reef Check methodology was implemented in 1997 by Reef Check Foundation, a non-profit international marine conservation organisation. With the need to understand the global conditions of our coral reefs, it was mandatory by that time to establish a methodology that could be used all around the world, and done by divers with different backgrounds, not only marine biologists.
After some training, divers are able to collect data that are used in the creation of a global and regional / local report regarding the status of the coral reefs. A Reef Check team collects four types of data for each dive site:
- A description of each reef site based on 30 measures of environmental and socioeconomic conditions and ratings of human impacts
- Fish indicator species
- Invertebrates indicator species
- A measure of the percentage coverage of different substrate types, including live and dead coral
Being part of a Reef Check monitoring team, you can help monitor and track the worlds reefs. Reefs, both tropical and temperate, are in a state of crisis. Today they look very different from what they did only 30 years ago. Big fish are scarce, and some marine creatures have disappeared completely. Over 45% of the worlds reefs are severely threatened by human activities including overfishing, pollution and global warming. By becoming a certified Reef Check diver, you can help track the health of our local reefs by participating in monitoring surveys and conservation worldwide.
In conjunction with EDA, we have trained approximately 150 divers with Reef Check methodology, and we intend to train a few more in 2015. By dividing the divers in different Reef Check teams, we will be able to collect data in several sites, in the East Coast of UAE, with particular focus in the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Dibba and Al Aqqa, as well as in Abu Dhabi. By collecting data regularly, EDA will be capable of writing a report on the status of coral reefs in both areas. This report will help us understand the principal threats that our marine environment is facing at the moment and the actions that need to be implemented in order to re-establish a healthy ecosystem in the area.
Reef Check Training
You will be trained to perform Reef Check surveys in all Indo-Pacific. So, you will be able to join the EDA Reef Check team as well as joining other Reef Check team in other countries of the Indo-Pacific.
The trainings take place over 4 sessions:
- The first 2 sessions (usually a Wednesday & Thursday evening) will consist of classroom lessons. You will become very familiar with many of Indo-Pacific’s marine species of fish, invertebrates and will be trained to identify different kinds of substrate such as corals and sponges.
- The last 2 days (Friday & Saturday) consist of the last chapter in the classroom, one underwater assessment and three classroom assessments.
Here is a video of a session that was conducted by me for EDA in March 2014 in Dubai, U.A.E.
To qualify for the Reef Check course you only need to be a diver, any level (good buoyancy is important!).
2015 will see a whole new Reef Check schedule in the UAE so if you are interested in making a difference you can contact EDA directly or Prodive Middle East. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but Reef Check really is one of those environmental programs, which is ‘the more the merrier’. The more Reef Check divers we have the more surveys we can conduct so at the end of the day it’s really up to you. Make a difference and contact us today to save our reefs with the Eco-Friendly Global Reef Check Training in UAE.
- New Location, Added Adventure - May 7, 2015
- Shark Guardian – Save Our Sharks, We Save Ourselves - April 30, 2015
- Dhow Trip to Musandam [Video] - April 10, 2015
- Prodive is now credited as a PADI 5 Star Dive Center and PADI TecRec Center - March 19, 2015
- Save Our Reefs with the Eco-Friendly Global Reef Check Training in UAE - November 15, 2014