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"Reef Check Australia has done a fantastic job of setting up a world-class program in Australia and has already contributed significantly to our work on an international scale. As Reef Check Australia continues to gather increased support I believe its dedicated staff will play a very important role in supporting urgent conservation efforts throughout Australia and the Indo-Pacific." Dr. Gregor Hodgson, Founder and Executive Director | Reef Check Foundation (International)
In the beginning
In 1993, scientists from around the world met to discuss the future of coral reefs. Some representatives believed the reefs to be in pristine condition, some reported that they were severely declining and some had very little knowledge at all. The meeting highlighted how little data was available. There was not enough information to form a picture of the status of the world's reefs.
This prompted marine ecologist, Dr. Gregor Hodgson, to develop a protocol for non-scientists to collect reliable, highly focused data on coral reef health. He founded Reef Check International in 1996 and, in 1997, conducted the first ever global survey of coral reef health.
The results, published in a scientific journal in 1999, shocked many marine biologists who had not realized the extent of human impacts on reefs. In August 2002, Reef Check International released its first five-year report, The Global Coral Reef Crisis - Trends and Solutions, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. Based on data collected by thousands of Reef Check volunteer divers in over 80 countries and territories, the report was the first scientific documentation of the dramatic worldwide decline in coral reef health over a five year period. The report concluded that there was virtually no reef in the world that remained untouched by human impacts. Yet the success stories discussed in the report show that, with proper monitoring, management and protection, coral reefs can recover. It is up to us.
In 2001, a highly passionate individual and marine scientist, Jos Hill, set up Reef Check Australia, to focus in detail on the health of the vitally-important Great Barrier Reef, before expanding to wider Australia and the Indo-pacific. Click here to download and listen to a radio program featuring Jos in the early days of Reef Check Australia. Years later, we're still going strong and our research is becoming more and more useful over the long term.