Welcome to Reef Life Survey
Reef Life Survey (RLS) aims to improve biodiversity conservation and the sustainable management of marine resources by coordinating surveys of rocky and coral reefs using scientific methods, with the ultimate goal to improve coastal stewardship. Our activities depend on the skills of experienced and motivated recreational SCUBA divers, partnerships with management agencies and university researchers, and active input from the RLS Advisory Committee.
RLS thus represents a new concept in marine conservation where scientists, marine managers, and recreational divers work together to maximise the collection, analysis, interpretation and effective use of broad-scale biodiversity information. RLS has established the first global baseline of marine biodiversity using consistent methods, which includes abundance data for over 3500 marine species at more than 2000 sites in 40 countries. This information is now used to track changing ecosystems, allowing managers and scientists to better understand how human society affects the marine environment, and to identify better ways forward to reduce threats.
Light winds, low swell and blue skies welcomed divers Toni Cooper (RLS, TAS), Wendy Hutchison, Cheryl Petty, Paul Day, Kevin Smith, Eloise Ashworth, Alicia Sutton, Matthias Liffers, Kirsty Whitman, Ben Jones, Tash Hardy (NSW), and Cecile Decazes to the 8th (yes the 8th!) annual RLS, Rottnest Island survey weekend.
The Australian Government’s Protected Species and Communities Branch recently asked RLS to run a project involving targeted RLS surveys across SE Tasmania in areas where historical sightings have been made of Ziebells handfish (Brachiopsilus ziebelli) and red handfish (Thymichthys politus). These two species of Brachionichthyid are found only in SE Tasmania and are listed as threatened nationally, and no confirmed sightings have been made of Ziebells handfish in over a decade and only one very small population of red handfish has been known in recent years. Very little is known about these species, and the project effectively involved looking for needles in a haystack! Round, lumpy needles…. and more a seaweed-stack!
Over the past 7 years, Reef Life Survey divers have collected data from over 40 different countries, resulting in over 3500 species recorded from over 6000 standardised marine biodiversity surveys. This is what it looks like, so far…
Thank you to all who have been involved in this data collection process, you will agree that it is a pretty impressive achievement!
Produced by Just Berkhout, Antonia Cooper and Justin Hulls
To download and view the latest Reef Life Survey Foundation Annual Report for 2013-14, please click on the link below:
Some of this year’s highlights included:
- 2014 saw 1022 RLS surveys completed across 5 different countries from 54 trained RLS divers
- RLS welcomed 20 newly trained divers, taking the total number of trained divers up to 232
- RLS now has over 7000 surveys from over 2400 sites in 48 different countries
- Over 4000 different species have been recorded during these surveys
Nature publication – “Global conservation outcomes depend on marine protected areas with five key features” – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature13022.html
Scientific Data publication – “Systematic global assessment of reef fish communities by the Reef Life Survey program”- http://www.nature.com/articles/sdata20147
Biological Conservation publication – “Statistical solutions for error and bias in global citizen science datasets” – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320713002693#
Australian Museum Eureka Awards – Eureka Award: NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
New York Times (The Green Column) – “Amid Efforts to Expand Marine Preserves, a Warning to Focus on Quality” – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/business/amid-efforts-to-expand-marine-preserves-a-warning-to-focus-on-quality.html?_r=0
New York Times, the Opinion pages – “To Save Fish and Birds” – http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/opinion/sunday/to-save-fish-and-birds.html?_r=2&referrer
The Mercury – “Researchers map life under the sea” – http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/researchers-map-life-under-the-sea/story-fnj4f7k1-1226832033602
The Reef Life Survey global reef fish dataset that was used for the recent Nature publications (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7487/full/nature13022.html and http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v501/n7468/full/nature12529.html), is now published in a new data journal called Scientific Data, published by the Nature Publishing Group. The dataset itself can be accessed in csv format here.
News8th Annual RLS Rottnest Island Survey Weekend Tasman Peninsula 27 Feb – 2 March
PhotosRLS worldwide marine surveys RLS Tropical Survey Expedition – Photos from the east
Here are a few pictures taken by RLS divers during the east coast leg of the Tropical survey expedition. Read More →