I’m off to the Caribbean Islands of St. Kitts and Nevis for the next two weeks for a Reef Check research project! I hope to be able to check in and update you guys throughout my adventures, but I’m not too sure how reliable the internet will be.
I’m putting my divemaster skills to work for the first week on the island of Nevis. The college I work at offers a Global Ecosystem course that is a summer destination class that allows students to learn outside of the classroom. This course is environmentally focused and has a marine science theme, which is perfect and why I became so interested in the first place! (the tropical island setting didn’t hurt either :))
The first week of the class certifies the students as Reef Check volunteers.
Reef Check was founded in 1996 by marine ecologist Dr. Gregor Hodgson. It is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of tropical coral reefs. Reef Check works to create partnerships among community volunteers, government agencies, businesses, universities and other non-profits.
We are one of those universities that are helping to create a global network of volunteer teams trained with scientific methods who regularly monitor and report on reef health. This class, year after year, goes back to similar locations around the island of Nevis to add to a continuing data set and research project. This data is then used to facilitate collaboration within the local community and produce ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions to rehabilitate damaged reefs.
In 1997, the first-ever global survey of coral reef health provided scientific confirmation that reefs were in crisis due to over-fishing, commercial build up, and pollution. The results shocked many marine biologists who had not realized the extent of human impacts on reefs. Many reefs are in worse shape now than ever, with the threat of inescapable devastation lingering much too close for comfort drastic changes need to happen, and quickly. Some success stories show that with proper monitoring, management and protection, coral reefs can recover.
One of Reef Check’s main goals is to create a global network of volunteer teams, trained and led by scientists, that regularly monitor and report on reef health using a standard method- that’s what we will be doing in St. Kitts. My supervisor, a TA, and I will be training a group of students to act as coral reef researchers and advocates.
It truly is an important and perfect project for me. It also allows me to explore more marine biology opportunities and further my marine research and divemaster certification without giving up my other current jobs. I’m so excited to get back in the ocean and to explore this section of coral reef! The diving will be so different from that of Costa Rica, and I’m excited to dive another tropical coral reef ecosystem.
Also! World’s Oceans Day was June 8th. Have you thought about your impact on our oceans? What are you doing to decrease YOUR impact?
Using less plastic is always the easiest and greatest way to decrease your negative effects on our oceans. Don’t use plastic shopping bags, skip the sandwich bags and opt for washable and reusable containers. STOP using plastic straws and recycle whenever you can! Check out some of these other great no waste products!