The Reef Check Foundation is the worlds largest reef monitoring network. The Reef Check Foundation is a non-profit that started in Southern California in 1996 with a mission to empower local communities through grassroots research, conservation, and education to protect and rehabilitate reefs worldwide. Their conservation efforts are made possible by partnerships with NGOs, local governments, and an extensive volunteer network with over 30,000 citizen scientists in 90 countries and territories. The Reef Check Foundation provides public education on reef ecology, marine management, and the importance of reefs to ocean health. They train volunteer scuba divers to count, record and monitor selected reef species on a regular basis.
The Reef Check Foundation engages locals in reef conservation and management through three programs: the Tropical Program, the Reef Check California Program, and the Baja Mexico Program. The Tropical Program focuses on fostering reef conservation by educating and empowering the youth in places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Reef Check California Program is the leading partner in monitoring and evaluating California’s marine protected areas (MPAs). Members include recreational divers, community members, fishermen, scientists, and academic institutions. Finally, the Baja Mexico Program focuses on educating and training government agency staff, NGO staff, academia, and locals in five communities along the Gulf of California and Baja Peninsula to not only monitor local reefs and collect data, but also to reach out to local groups and youth to spread outreach efforts. By putting the power in communities, governments, businesses, and individuals alike, the common goal of protecting the reefs they call home, as well as those found around the world, is shared by all.