Nature Foundation Launches Reef Check Volunteer Program

POSTED: 06/8/11 1:54 PM

St. Maarten – A group of seven volunteer divers attended a Reef Check training course organized by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation on June 3 and June 4. Reef Check is a coral reef research method designed to be simple and effective in researching the health of both the country’s coral reef and fish stock population.

“One of the main tasks of the St. Maarten Nature Foundation is to conduct research on the health of our Marine Ecosystem. However, because we lack the resources to conduct a wide scale, continuous study we have decided to re-launch Reef Check on St. Maarten using volunteers from within the community,” Nature Foundation Marine Park Manager and the course instructor Tadzio Bervoets said.

The course involved one day of theory including theoretical exams and one day of practical work involving conducting an actual Reef Check while scuba diving on Frenchman’s Reef.

Reef Check is a coral reef monitoring protocol designed to research tropical coral reefs. Reef Check works to create partnerships among community volunteers, government agencies, businesses, universities and other non-profits. The goals of Reef Check are educating the public about the value of reef ecosystems and the current crisis affecting marine life; creating a global network of volunteer teams trained in Reef Check’s scientific methods who regularly monitor and report on reef health; facilitating collaboration that produces ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions; and stimulating local community action to protect remaining pristine reefs and rehabilitate damaged reefs worldwide.

On St. Maarten Reef Check dives will be conducted once a month from June to October on four different sites to monitor for the various threats and changes on our coral health. Specific attention is given to Coral Health and Diseases, the presence of important fish species and the health of invertebrates including Lobster and Conch. The St. Maarten Reef Check Team consists of Nature Foundation staff, Kippy Gilders, Andrew Murphey-Laws, Fleur Hermanides, Ivana Rakutt, Giedre Lesmaityte, Lucas Berman, and Jeffrey Bruning.


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