In the picture above: Reef Check training class March 2014 with Emirates Diving Association.
Instructor: Ken Atkinson.
Venue: ProDive, Pinnacle Building Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE.
Picture courtesy of Bergamo Scuba Angels‘ archive
Reef Check is the United Nations’ official coral reef monitoring program, leaded by a non-profit international marine conservation organisation headquartered in Los Angeles, California, United States, but using data from volunteer scuba diver teams in over 80 countries.
Reef Check in Dubai and UAE is promoted by Emirates Diving Association (EDA), a non-profit voluntary federal organization and is accredited by UNEP as an International Environmental Organisation; EDA was established by Federal Decree No. (23) Under Article No. (21) on 23/02/1995 and has chosen Dubai as its base.
Joining the reef check team, you can help monitor and track the world’s reefs. By becoming a certified Reef Check diver, you will learn how to recognise fishes, invertebrates, corals important for the local reef and you can help track the health of reefs by participating in monitoring surveys and conservation worldwide. Reefs, both tropical and temperate, are in a state of crisis, today they look vastly different from what they did only 30 years ago. Big fish are scarce and some marine creatures have disappeared completely. Over 45% of the world’s reefs are severely threatened by human activities including overfishing, destructive fishing, pollution, sedimentation and global warming.
Reef Check first conducted a global survey of coral reef health in 1997, by Reef Check Foundation itself. The focus was and is to understand the global conditions of our coral reefs, establishing a methodology that could be used all around the world, and done by divers with different backgrounds, not only marine biologists.
After a specific training, divers are able to collect data that is used in the creation of a Global and Regional/Local report regarding the status of the coral reefs. Reef Check team collect four types of data for each dive site:
- A description of each reef site based on 30 measures of environmental and socio-economic conditions and ratings of human impacts;
- A measure of the percentage coverage of different substrate types, including live and dead coral;
- Invertebrates indicator species counts;
- Fish indicator species counts.
In the picture above: Acanthaster planci, commonly known as the crown-of-thorns starfish, is a large, multiple-armed starfish (or seastar) that usually preys upon hard, or stony, coral polyps (Scleractinia).
Photography: Massimo Ziino.
Venue: Musandam, Oman.
Until now, EDA has trained more than 50 divers with Reef Check methodology. By dividing the divers in different Reef Check teams, they are able to collect data from several sites on the East Coast of the UAE, with particular focus in the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) of Dibba, Al Aqah and Dadna. By collecting data every month, EDA will be able to write a report on the Status of Coral Reefs of the three MPAs on the East Coast. This report will make us understand the principal threats that our marine environment is facing at the moment and the actions that need to be taken in order to re-establish a healthy ecosystem in the area.
To join the EDA Reef Check training you only need to be a diver (any level) with at least 15 dives (good buoyancy is important).