presentation 3 - Iintroduction to Reef Check methods.ppt

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					  Reef Check Training Course

Introduction to Coral Reefs
Introduction to Reef Check
Data Quality
Team Tasks
The Methods: The Planning Stage
The Methods: The Survey
Introduction to coral reefs
              What is a coral reef?

• Made up of large hard corals that build the reef
structure and support a myriad of life;

• They are tropical ecosystems that rival only
rainforests in species diversity. This is BIODIVERSITY.

                                       Photo by Jos Hill, 2002
         Why care about coral reefs?

• Rainforests of the sea. E.g.. Nursery ground for 25% of
marine species and home to 33% of all known fish species;
• Important food source for millions of people;

• Source of medicines;

• Coastal protection from wave erosion to 1/6 of world’s
• Source of islands & white sand beaches for tourist resorts;

• 20 million scuba divers;

• Great beauty and spiritual value.
        What conditions do coral reefs require?

             • Light;

             • Low nutrient, clear water;

             • Salinity around 32-42/ppm;

             • Temperature between 18-29ºC;

             • Waves and good water circulation;

             •   More effective management than is currently in place.

For more information see:

• Zones are habitats within a reef;

• Areas defined by complex associations between
creatures and the environment;

• Zones help better understand ecosystem
dynamics and changes over time.

                       Taken from the A.W.A.R.E Coral Reef Conservation Course
 Natural disturbance: dynamic balance
       of coral reef ecosystems
                 Healthy coral
                 dominated reef

       reef                       10-20 year
                                  recovery period
                  Acute natural
                  impact here

  Natural impacts include physical disturbances, such as
cyclones. These impacts tend to be ACUTE and coral reefs
       have adapted to recover from acute events.
Natural disturbance: dynamic balance
      of coral reef ecosystems

• We can measure the health of a coral reef in terms of its
resilience to impacts, such as, its ability to recover from

• We can measure this health by
monitoring how they change over

It is important to understand how reefs change with time
   naturally in order that we can determine how human
                    impacts affect them
           A basic ecology lesson

An ecosystem is like a jenga

Each block has a function to
hold the system together.

Pull out too many blocks and
the system will collapse…

    Each organism in an ecosystem has a function
       Threats to coral reefs

      1. Overfishing;

      2. Destructive fishing;

      3. Sedimentation;

      4. Pollution;

      5. Global climate

Human impacts tend to be CHRONIC and leave no
               recovery period.
    Solutions to these problems…

In order to effectively manage a coral reef we must:
1. Determine what the problems are and where they

2. Put in place a management solution;

3. Monitor the effectiveness of the management.
Introduction to Reef Check
• In 1993 at a Symposium in Miami a question was asked:

   What is the health of the world’s coral reefs?

• Science “as usual” failed to give answers because:
      • There are too few scientists who spend too
      little time on reefs;
      • Too few study sites;
      • Few long-term studies;
      • Emphasis on basic research;
      • Different questions and methods used in different
      areas meaning that we cannot compare data.
          1997 – Reef Check begins

  Reef Check designed a global survey method for the
  International Year of the Reef. This protocol was:

• Simple, Rapid, All volunteer;
• Combined manpower of local communities with
scientific experts;
• ‘Eco-holistic’ -- not just fish or coral;
• Provides basic data on coral reef health;
• Applicable anywhere in the world.

     This 1997 survey effort revealed that coral reefs
       around the world were in very poor health!
                   What is Reef Check?

• Educate the public about the coral reef crisis;

• Create a global network of volunteer teams, which
regularly monitor and report on reef health;

• Scientifically investigate coral reef processes;

• Facilitate collaboration among academia, NGOs,
governments and the private sector;

• Stimulate local community action to protect remaining pristine
reefs and rehabilitate damaged reefs worldwide using
ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions.
    Who are the stakeholders involved?

• Villagers/fisherfolk;
• Tourist divers;
• Local dive clubs;
• Government agencies;
• Local/regional NGO’s,
  conservation groups;
• Other stakeholders.
             Reef Check Strategy

                    Reef Check

Monitoring         Management           Education

              Coral Reef Conservation
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network

    Scientific           Community
  (government)             (NGO)
   monitoring            monitoring

       !                      !
  Expensive             Inexpensive
But data intense        Basic data only
Reef Check Global Network 1997-pre

       **                      ** *
     * *                    ** * *                     ** * *
     ** *      *    *
                          *                    *   * *** *** * *
         *       ** * ** * ** *           **                  *
               *       ** * * * *                       **
      * *             **     *      * **
                            **                         *
             *         *        * ** ** *                          *
           *                              *
    * *                    *          *
   **                                   *

       1400 Reefs, 62 Countries and Territories
       What type of data do we collect?

1) A description of each reef site based on over 30
   measures of environmental conditions and
   expert rating of human impacts;

2) Shellfish counts along an 800 m 2 section of
   shallow reef;

3) Fish counts along an 4000 m 3 section of
   shallow reef;
4) A measure of the percentage of the seabed
   covered by different substrate types including
   live and dead coral;

5) A video transect of the seabed.
     Some Global Results 1997 - 2001

• Percent hard coral cover was significantly higher on reefs
having no human impacts than on those with high impacts;
• Algal cover was higher on reefs rated as having
high sewage inputs;

• Zero grouper larger than 30 cm recorded at 48% of reefs
surveyed – indicating overfishing;

• Many marine protected areas
are not working very well;

• The 1997 – 1998 bleaching event reduced live coral cover
by 10% globally, indicating that coral reefs are a sensitive
indicator of global warming.
             Management Successes

• Soufriere, St Lucia --
Marine Management
Authority uses RC to
demonstrate the value of
the marine protected area
(MPA) for fish;

• Gilutongan Island, Cebu, Philippines – local barrio decided
to set up MPA after RC participation. Today most successful
urban, no-take MPA in Philippines (Ross et al, 2000).
              Education Successes

• Recife, Brazil – local government decides to set up
  children’s reef education center after RC shows reef

• In collaboration with
  Friends of the Reef, RC
  Indo conducts art
  contest to educate
  school teachers and
  students in Bali.
Data Quality
                       Data quality

• Unfortunately we have to account for different types of
error when we compare results of surveys over time.

• Minimizing error is important because the more error we
have, the lower the resolution by which environmental
change can be detected.

                                            Is the hard
                                            coral cover
       % cover                              really changing
       hard coral
                                            or is this
                                            survey error?

                    Annual survey results
      Data quality: Sources of error

   • Technical errors from transect placement;

   • Perceptual errors;

   • Identification errors.

  Technical and perceptual errors can be minimized by
standardising the methods. Identification errors must be
    minimized by standardising training and testing!
Learning from the Past and Site Descriptions:
Coral cover on Balicasag Island reef from 1984
                    to 1999
                             (Christie et al. 2002)

Percentage (%)




                      1984                1992                  1999
                                                       a cur t t l ad oa
                                                      Snt ay oahr c r l
                                                       a cur t t l o oa
                                                      Snt ay oas f c r l

                                                      o s nt ay oa ad oa
                                                      N - a cur t t lhr c r l

                                                      o s nt ay oa ot oa
                                                      N - a cur t t ls f c r l
       How do we ensure the data is of
     sufficient high quality to integrate it
             with official data sets?

• standardise the identification training throughout Queensland;

                                  ‘Rock’ and ‘Recently Killed
                                  Coral’ are frequently
                                  confused by volunteers

• test participants.
           What happens to our data?

• Sent to Reef Check Headquarters where it is integrated
with the global database;

• Sent to The World Fish Centre’s ReefBase;

• Used for global, regional and national annual reports
and publications
What are the objectives of participants?

• To be able to identify all of the target organisms to 80-95%* precision
whilst following exactly AND SAFELY the Reef Check methods using

• To understand the importance of precise data collection and how this
data can be used by scientists and managers for coral reef conservation;

• To understand the use and limitations to the data that is collected using
Reef Check;
• Gain an understanding of the threats facing coral reefs and solutions to
these problems;
• To have fun!!

*the level required for a particular Reef Check training event will depend upon
the Reef Check organisers;
**snorkel teams may also be accommodated for shallow reef areas.
Team Tasks
Who must every Reef Check team

       • Team Scientist;
       • Team Leader;
       • Equipment Cop.
What is the role of the Team Scientist?
  • Site selection;

  • Delegation of survey tasks;

  • Survey briefing prior to dive;
  • Ensure proper identifications and data
  recording are made underwater

  • Data sheet collection and filing;

  • Organisation of data entry, filing and
  notification of data entered to coordinator;
   • Organise data analysis and summary.
What is the role of the Team Leader?

• Confirm dive trip dates and arrangements;

• Confirm team availability;

• Field day organisation;

• Complete field log;
• Organisation of media releases;
• Dive safety;
What is the role of the Equipment Cop?

    • Pre and post-survey equipment check;

    • Bring the equipment to the survey.
The Methods: The
Planning Stage
                The Survey Equipment
• 100 m transect line;

• Underwater slate for each team member;
• Pencil;
• Spare pencil!!
• Underwater ID guides;

• GPS or detailed chart (or access to one);

• Plumb line;
• Marker and “safety” buoys / surface tenders;
• Underwater cameras (if available).
                The Transect


    1             2            3            4

  20m      5m    20m     5m   20m    5m    20m

The basic idea of the Reef Check protocol is to swim
            along a 100m line and count!
             Planning the survey

It is important that team members know EXACTLY what
                      they are to do.

Trying to communicate underwater can sometimes be
     difficult and we are working under the clock!
                   Site selection

• Critical for the success of Reef Check!

• Must be selected by an experience Reef Check Scientist;

• Re-surveys must be implemented at the same site in the same

• New sites would ideally be on a moderately to fully exposed reef
with a reef crest and outer slope being ideal.

• Select the “best” reef areas for surveys

Steep reef walls or drop-offs, reefs predominantly located in caves
or underhangs should be avoided.
The Survey Methods
                  Survey tasks
•Initial site orientation survey (all divers)

•Lay the transect line (1 - 2 divers);

• Substrate survey (1 - 2 divers);

• Invertebrate/impact survey (1 - 2 divers);

• Retrieve the transect line (1 – 2 divers);

• Optional “safety” buddy and surface tender
Before you jump into the water…

  • Record the GPS location;

  • Record the name of the TS or TL on the data sheet;

  • Start to fill out the site description form.

Divers should go over the dive plan before anyone enters
 the water in order to ensure that everyone knows what
             they should be doing and when.
Site name:_________________________________

Country:_________________________                                     State/Province:______________ City/town:_____________________
Date:      __________________                                    Time: Start of survey: ______________ End of survey: __________________
Latitude (deg. min. sec):           ______________________________ Longitude (deg. min. sec) :         ______________________________

Distance                            from shore: _________m            from nearest river: ______km
River mouth width:                  _________ <10m                    ________ 11-50m                  _______ 51-100m       _____101-500m
Dist. to nearest population center: __________ km                     Population size: _____x1000

Weather:                            _____ sunny                       ________ cloudy                  ________raining
Visibility:                         __________m

Why is this site selected:          ___________________________       Is this best site in the area?   _____Yes _____No


Is this site:                       Always sheltered:_________        Sometimes sheltered: _______     Exposed:___________

Major coral damaging storms         Yes:________                      No:________                      When was last storm: __________

Overall Anthropogenic impact        None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Is siltation a problem              Never                             Occasionally: ________           Often: _______        Always: _____
Dynamite fishing                    None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         Heavy: ____
Poison Fishing                      None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Aquarium Fishing                    None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Harvest Inverts for Food            None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Harvest Inverts for curio sales     None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Tourist Diving/snorkeling:          None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Sewage Pollution                    None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Industrial pollution                None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Commercial fishing                  None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: ________         High: _____
Fish for the live food fish
restaurant trade                    None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: _____            High: _____
Artisinal/recreational              None: ______                      Low: ________                    Med: _____            High: _____
How many yachts are typically
present within 1km of this site :   None: ______                      Few (1-2): _____                 Med (3-5): ____       Many (>5): _____

Other impacts:                      ____________________________________________________
Any Protection (legal or other) at
this site?                         Yes:_______                        No: __________                   if yes, answer questions below
Is protection enforced              Yes (full enforcement):_______    No:__________
                      Line deployment

•   Reef Check typically surveys 2 depths:
1) Between 2-6m
2) Between 8-12m

• A snorkel survey over the site can help determine its eligibility for
a Reef Check survey;

• The TS or experienced Reef Checkers will typically lay the
transect line because care must be taken not to damage the reef.
                The substrate survey

• The aim is to collect % cover estimates of various substrates
and benthic organisms;

• A point sampling method is used every 50cm;

• Plumb line must be used to remove bias;

• This survey typically takes 30 mins to 1 hour to complete.

Substrate Code
HC hard coral                                          SC soft coral (includes flower, tree, ornamental)        RKC recently killed coral
HCB bleached hard coral                                SCL leathery soft coral                                  RKCNIA recently killed coral and NIA
HCBR branching hard coral                              SCZ          zoanthids                                   RKCTA recently killed coral and turf algae
HCM massive hard coral                                 SCB          bleached soft coral
HCF foliose hard coral
HCP plate hard coral
HCE encrusting hard coral                              SP sponge                                                RC rock
NIA nutrient indicator algae                           SPE encrusting sponge                                    TA turf algae
RB rubble                                              SD sand                                                  CA coralline algae
OT other                                               SI silt/clay

(For first segment, if start point is 0 m, last point is 19.5 m)
         SEGMENT 1                                       SEGMENT 2                                   SEGMENT 3                          SEGMENT 4
           0 - 19.5 m                                       25 - 44.5 m                               50 - 69.5 m                        75 - 94.5 m

0                 10                25                 35                                50                     60           75             85

0.5               10.5              25.5               35.5                              50.5                   60.5         75.5           85.5

1                 11                26                 36                                51                     61           76             86

1.5               11.5              26.5               36.5                              51.5                   61.5         76.5           86.5

2                 12                27                 37                                52                     62           77             87

2.5               12.5              27.5               37.5                              52.5                   62.5         77.5           87.5

3                 13                28                 38                                53                     63           78             88

3.5               13.5              28.5               38.5                              53.5                   63.5         78.5           88.5

4                 14                29                 39                                54                     64           79             89

4.5               14.5              29.5               39.5                              54.5                   64.5         79.5           89.5

5                 15                30                 40                                55                     65           80             90

5.5               15.5              30.5               40.5                              55.5                   65.5         80.5           90.5

6                 16                31                 41                                56                     66           81             91

6.5               16.5              31.5               41.5                              56.5                   66.5         81.5           91.5

7                 17                32                 42                                57                     67           82             92
         Invert and impact survey

• This is a 5m wide belt transect. We use the same 4 x 20m
long transects, but survey 2.5m either side of the tape;

• The goal of this survey is to count the target mobile invertebrates
and note any coral damage, such as, bleaching, Crown of Thorns
Starfish, anchor damage or trash;

• The upside down pose is the easiest position to search and write;

• A regular U-shaped search pattern ensures a comprehensive
coverage of the belt transect;

• This survey takes between 30 mins and 1 hour to complete.
                       Fish survey

• Same 5m wide belt transect but it is also 5m HIGH;
• The fish survey is the first survey to be done;
• The ideal survey time is between 09.00 and 10.00;

• Completion time is approximately 1 hour;
• The team must wait 15mins after the line is deployed before entering the

• Divers must make slow and careful movements;

• Concentrate on buoyancy;

• Coordinate counts with your buddy to avoid double counting;

• Only count fish in the tunnel except for the Humphead wrasse and
Bumphead parrotfish or mega fauna.
Site Name:                                               Country/Island:
Depth:                                                   TS/TL:
Date:                                                    Time:

Data recorded by:
                                           0-20m                 25-45m    50-70m   75-95m
Butterfly fish
Sweetlips (Haemulidae)
Snapper (Lutjanidae)
Barramundi Cod (Cromileptes)
Other Grouper >30cm*
Humphead wrasse
Bumphead parrot
Other Parrotfish (>20cm)
Moray eel
* give size in comments
Data recorded by:
                                           0-20m                 25-45m    50-70m   75-95m
Banded coral shrimp (Stenopus
Diadema urchins
Pencil urchin (Heterocentrotus
Sea cucumber (edible only)
Crown-of-thorns star (Acanthaster)
Giant clam (Tridacna)
Triton shell (Charonia tritonis)
Drupella (Drupella sp)

Coral Damage/Disease/Bleaching and Trash
Rate the following as: None=0, Low=1, Medium=2, High=3
                                           0-20m                 25-45m    50-70m   75-95m
Drupella scars
Crown of thorns star scars
Coral damage: Boat/Anchor
Coral damage: Dynamite
Coral damage: Other
Trash: Fish nets
Trash: General
Please fill in the following               0-20m                 25-45m    50-70m   75-95m
    Post-Dive Tasks

• Data entry;

• Media release;

• Thank-yous to supporters;

• See TL, TS and EC roles…..
    Daghang Salamat!!!
Special thanks to Jos Hill PhD of
Reef Check Australia for providing
key parts of this presentation.

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