Nature Foundation Continues Reef Check Volunteer Program


 On November 5th and 6th a group of ten volunteers attended a Reef Check training course held by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation.

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Reef Check is a coral reef research method designed to be both simple yet effective in researching the health of both the country’s coral reefs 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 use Reef Check on St. Maarten using volunteers from within the community” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Marine Park Manager and Instructor during the Reef Check course. 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 to: educate the public about the value of reef ecosystems and the current crisis affecting marine life; to create a global network of volunteer teams trained in Reef Check’s scientific methods who regularly monitor and report on reef health; to facilitate collaboration that produces ecologically sound and economically sustainable solutions; and to stimulate 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 on four different sites both inside and outside the Marine Park 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. In addition to Nature Foundation staff the St. Maarten Reef Check Team is comprised of Kippy Gilders, Andrew Murphey-Laws, Fleur Hermanides, Ivana Rakutt, Stephane Ferron, Morgan Scotney, Leslie Scotney, Kevin Dekkers, Leigh Elmes, James Tedeschi, and Petra Teplanova.