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"Sunshine Coast Council understands that we cannot achieve our sustainability vision for the region without building productive and enduring partnerships with the community. Reef Check is one of a number of organisations that work collaboratively on the Coast with Council, industry and the wider community to raise awareness and capacity about the outstanding environmental values of ourhome, and the need to manage them wisely. Reef Check's work also contributes to the long term robustness of our economy by helping to conserve, protect and showcase our coasts wonderful marine features." -Ben McMullen, Coordinator Biosphere and Partnerships with Sunshine Coast Council
Why Reef Check?
The goal of Reef Check monitoring is to determine broad-scale trends of how our reefs are changing over time on both local and global scales. Long-term reef monitoring is important to help understand the impacts of management practices, the disturbance-recovery regime of reefs, changes taking place over time in response to localised and global pressures (i.e. local factors such as sediment runoff or global pressures such as climate change).
Our volunteer teams, in partnership with dive operator supporters, can survey popular dive sites for a fraction of the cost of standard government-employed surveys. The information collected by Reef Check volunteer teams also goes to supporting global reef health comparisons. Our data can be passed on and used by scientists and managers as an early warning system to supplement other monitoring programs that document changes and disturbances on the reef.
Reef Check scientific methods have been peer reviewed by international scientists to create a consistent global protocol for community-based reef health monitoring. These methods were designed to be carried out by volunteer SCUBA divers with little to no previous scientific training. Volunteers are prepared to conduct surveys, utilise survey materials and identify Reef Check indicators during a four day Reef Check training course.
What do we measure?
Our teams visit survey sites annually, taking a snapshot of what is happening on that reef to create long-term trend information and help identify changes in reef health. For each survey, our teams complete important assessments on the health of the reef. Coral reef health can be gauged by monitoring the following criteria:
1. Benthic reef habitat
2. Algae proliferation
3. Indicator invertebrate abundance
4. Coral damage & reef health impacts
5. Indicator fish abundance