Volunteers monitor reef fish
By Cindy Knapman
If you enjoy snorkeling in Waikīkī and learning about Hawai'i's unique marine life, consider volunteering for Reef Watch Waikiki, a new reef fish monitoring program.
The first reef fish identification class and snorkel survey was held in February, and additional training sessions will be offered in March and April.
During the first session, volunteers gathered at Queen's Surf Beach and, working in teams, donned snorkel gear and surveyed a section of the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District.
The volunteers saw different species of fish, coral and algae.
"The fish ID training was excellent; it was comprehensive, informative and fun," said volunteer Judith Tarpley. "I chose to participate because I love swimming in the ocean and enjoy identifying everything I see."
Karen Rohter, another volunteer who participated in the first training, said, "It's a chance to learn something new and participate in ocean environmental programs."
Earlier this year, Reef Watch Waikiki, a project of the University of Hawai'i Sea Grant College Program, became an official REEF Field Station and began teaching fish identification classes and the REEF survey method.
The monitoring program uses a roving survey method developed by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation that can be conducted with minimal training and basic snorkel gear. REEF has volunteer branches around the world, including the Bahamas, Galapagos Islands and several coastal states in the United States.
No experience is necessary to participate, but volunteers wishing to conduct snorkel surveys should be strong swimmers, competent snorkelers, and have their own mask, snorkel and fins.
Anyone interested in becoming involved should contact Heather Hillard at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to register.
Reef Watch Waikiki is also on Facebook. Visit our Page and become a fan: www.new.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Reef-Watch-Waikiki/56553547811.
For more information about the University of Hawai'i Sea Grant College Program, visit www.soest.hawaii.edu/SEAGRANT or contact Cindy Knapman at 808-956-7410.