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7/18/2007 Pt Lobos by Susan Bird -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Suzanne L (Suz) Baird, Dionna House, Susan Bird
Visibility: 40' - 50' Time:10:30 AM
Temp: 48F Surge:  
Max Depth: 38FSW Avg Depth: 27FSW
Bottom Time: 1:14 Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
Dionna, Suzanne, and I joined Cyndi Dawson of ReefCheck for a dive at Point Lobos yesterday. D & Suzanne were undergoing their re-certification process to update their survey skills, and Cyndi graciously allowed me to observe the process in order to understand what ReefCheck does and how divers are trained.

The conditions were fantastic! The ocean was as flat calm as I have ever seen it. Monastery Beach was as flat as a lake, and there wasn’t even a ripple on Whaler’s Cove when we drove into the parking lot. Underwater conditions were equally amazing, with wide-open visibility and no surge.

The re-certification process consisted of a pre-dive briefing by Cyndi of protocols and procedures, followed by a survey dive. ReefCheck divers conduct their surveys over a 30 meter transect line with clearly defined perimeters, forming a rectangular corridor along the length of the survey area. The data is collected under 4 major groupings, with each category requiring a sweep or swim-through along the transect line. Data for each category is collected within a set time frame (ranging from 6 to 10 minutes).

The slates, data collection sheets, and measurement devices are standardized, and are simple and straightforward to use (assuming divers are solid in their knowledge base of species and substrate identification, after taking the ReefCheck training). Species are listed and organized in a sensible manner for easy data collection.

Suzanne and Dionna did the set up for their survey along the west side of the Middle Reef. Visibility was so good that we could clearly see the bottom on our surface swim, and underwater viz was just as excellent with clean, beautiful, blue water. Cyndi chose a survey area thick with kelp, over a mixed terrain including sand, bedrock, and cobble. D and Suz each collected data under the four sub categories, while Cyndi did a separate survey for comparison. Surprisingly, the area was not particularly fishy—we counted only a few varieties of perch. Invertebrates were more plentiful, and as mentioned, the kelp was extremely abundant.

Since I have not taken the original training, I mostly observed the process, however I did take a stab at collecting some of the data on a slate that Cyndi generously loaned me. It was really fun!!!

We concluded the dive with a slow underwater swim back to the ramp, enjoying the God-rays penetrating the kelp, and numerous rockfish lounging under the golden overhead canopy. Dionna and I discovered some fascinating shrimp on a kelp frond, approx ½ inch long, translucent, with lavender markings. We also found a lovely baby kelp fish, and traveling schools of juvenile tubesnouts. At the ramp, we visited a juvenile money-face eel, and fed it some of its favorite algae.

During our post-dive briefing, it was clear that Dionna’s and Suzanne’s data was right on the money. They will complete their re-cert by doing a survey on a ReefCheck charter in the near future.

The ReefCheck survey was much more fun and far less ‘work’ than I had imagined. After just this one dive (as an observer) I found that I was able to see the marine environment in a richer, more appreciative manner. Their training not only provides us a valuable opportunity to hone basic diving skills, but also develops our ‘eyes’ to see and get to know the wonderful complexity of the underwater realm. Also, as a ReefCheck participant, it is a very satisfying experience to know that we are contributing to the larger community.

I would strongly recommend that BAUE divers who would like to contribute in this manner pursue training and certification with ReefCheck.

Thank you to Cyndi, Dionna, and Suz for allowing me to join them for a great dive!