Reef Monitoring Program in Guam Celebrates Three Years of Success
by Nancy Sealover
Protecting coral reefs can seem like an overwhelming task. Residents in Guam are up for the challenge and are celebrating their coral reef conservation accomplishments. The Guam Community Coral Reef Monitoring Program (GCCRMP), launched in 2012, is highly active in the community and continues to grow in its outreach and reef management capabilities every year.
Recently, community members and partners gathered for a Reef Exploration, Experiences, and Fun (R.E.E.F.) celebration. GCCRMP hosted the celebration to recognize program members and partners for their contributions to the ongoing success of the program.
In three years, GCCRMP has trained over 1,200 residents to collect monitoring data, developed service learning programs for local students, and is in the beginning stages of an adopt-a-reef program to expand their monitoring network of sites around the island.
During the celebration, program members viewed preliminary results from data collected by volunteers, visited an environmental stewardship-themed mini-fair, and received awards of recognition.
In addition, program staff discussed the Eyes of the Reef Marianas Program, a new initiative launched in late November 2015. The program allows community residents to report reef impacts, such as coral bleaching, to GCCRMP. A one-time training course teaches participants how to identify and assess these impacts and report them online, expanding community involvement and awareness further.
Guam is home to a unique and diverse community of marine species supported by their local coral reef habitats. GCCRMP is a great example of how community involvement and enthusiastic volunteers can help preserve and monitor these ecologically and economically important ecosystems.
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.