Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
A 2017 ecosystem assessment of the Big Sur and Channel Islands kelp forests and Marine Protected Areas conducted by citizen scientist.
A 2017 ecosystem assessment of the Big Sur and Channel Islands kelp forests and Marine Protected Areas conducted by citizen scientist.
78 backers pledged $6,765 to help bring this project to life.

About

2017 Reef Check California Marine Ecosystem Assessment project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$6,765

78

Since 2015, Reef Check California has launched four successful Marine Ecosystem Assessments to the Channel Islands and the Big Sur coast. These multi-day expeditions are a part of a sustained effort by Reef Check California toward the long-term monitoring of these unique coastal ecosystems. The data we collect is publicly available on Reef Check’s Global Reef Tracker for scientists, marine managers and the general public to use.
Reef Check divers collect data on fish, invertebrates and seaweed on rocky reefs
Reef Check divers collect data on fish, invertebrates and seaweed on rocky reefs

 This year we plan to return to these sites to measure any changes in marine life, to ascertain what trends are occurring and to determine what steps need to be taken to protect these remote ecosystems. We will lead two teams of trained volunteer citizen scientists to scuba dive and survey the marine life using scientific protocols that are integrated with studies being done throughout the rest of California. The Channel Islands and Big Sur coast together represent 275 miles of some of the most undeveloped areas of coastline in the state. These areas are located where cool nutrient-rich waters provide an environment for a variety of endangered species, thriving kelp forests and sensitive habitats not found anywhere else along the California coast. The remoteness of these areas puts them out of reach of polluting industries and human population centers, but also makes it difficult for scientists to study and manage.

Bull whip kelp is an essential part of kelp forest ecosystem along the Big Sur coast.
Bull whip kelp is an essential part of kelp forest ecosystem along the Big Sur coast.

In this era of global environmental stressors like ocean acidification, rising sea temperatures and the vast reach of plastics pollution, the knowledge of what changes are occurring is key to successfully adapting management and conservation actions to protect these rich habitats. In 2015 and 2016, we documented trends that where both alarming and encouraging. The Big Sur coastline saw decreases in purple urchin populations from 2015 to 2016, while purple urchin populations increased to the north in Monterey and to the south in San Luis Obispo. At Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island, which has been an MPA since 2003, we found giant kelp had returned and the urchin barren that had been there since we first started monitoring in 2008 was gone. 

Garibaldi, such as the one pictured here, and many other species of fish will be counted.
Garibaldi, such as the one pictured here, and many other species of fish will be counted.

 Our goal for this survey season is to go back and document what further changes have occurred in the past year. At each place we anchor, a team of roughly two dozen volunteer scientific divers will enter the water. Using well established scientific protocols, they will count fish, invertebrates and kelp to develop a comprehensive picture of the status of marine life in these remote areas.

California sheephead transition from female to male. Transitions are triggered by many environmental factors.
California sheephead transition from female to male. Transitions are triggered by many environmental factors.

 Kelp forests are critical ecosystems along California's coastlines and provide food, shelter and oxygen for hundreds of species, including humans. These ecosystems are changing due to rising ocean temperatures, invasive species, marine diseases and other environmental stressors. This project aims to address these issues by collecting data that will be added to previous years' information so that fisheries managers, researchers and the public can have the scientific information they need to protect these precious habitats.

Sadly the boat we intend to use this year does not include a hot tub.
Sadly the boat we intend to use this year does not include a hot tub.

 

Risks and challenges

There are many challenges such as weather, ocean conditions and boat logistics associated with these expeditions as there is with any trip of this size and scope on the ocean. Our experience conducting trips along California’s mainland coast as well as the four successful expeditions that we have completed over the last two years, makes us uniquely qualified to address these challenges. In the event a trip is canceled due to weather or other logistical issues, it will be rescheduled for another date.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Membership

    A Reef Check membership and access to all the data we collect through the Global Reef Tracker

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    9 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Wristbands

    A Reef Check wristband and sticker

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    11 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    License Plate Frame

    A Reef Check license plate holder and "dive with purpose" bumper sticker

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Towel

    An extra large, plush, marine-themed Reef Check towel

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    13 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Reef Check Hat

    A Reef Check California hat featuring our Garibaldi and bull kelp design

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    10 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Reef Check T-shirt

    A Reef Check T-shirt. Styles will vary with size.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Reef Check California Flashcard set

    A set of Reef Check California's beautiful flash cards with photos of our indicator species on the front and tips for ID on the back

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Kelp Forest Print

    A beautiful 12x16 photograph of California's kelp forest printed on canvas

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Helen Brierley Photograph

    Coordinate with Helen Brierley to receive one of her professionally printed photographs. Approx 16x20 on canvas or metal

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)