Is your interest in coral reefs more than just their beauty? Would you like to know more than the names of a few fish or reef creatures? Of course, you could learn more by taking a diver “specialty” course. But let’s face facts: These are rarely taught by experts or even those with a formal background in marine science. Many are just critter ID courses supplemented with basic and sometimes outdated content. However, for those looking for something better–a true understanding of the basic ecology of coral reefs and practical experience in assessing their health—then this is the program for you!
The course examines the science of coral reefs with an emphasis on functional ecology and chocked-full of content relevant specifically to scuba divers. The topics discussed are outlined below. Field sessions will include three two-tank dives to local reefs where you’ll learn a standardized scientific protocol for assessing coral reef health. Surveys will include characterization of the sea bottom, invertebrate and fish communities, along with health indicators emphasizing bleaching, disease and predation. At the end of the course, data you collect will be analyzed and reviewed to provide a snapshot of reef health. Participants will qualify for optional certification as Reef Check EcoDivers.
- Why are coral reef ecosystems important to everyone, not just scuba divers?
- What’s “Darwin’s Paradox” and why is it important in understanding coral reefs?
- Why are coral reefs really an amalgam of animal, vegetable and mineral?
- How do coral reefs form, grow and reproduce?
- How do physical and chemical factors dictate the structure and health of a coral reef community?
- Why are organisms other than corals so vital to a coral reef community?
- How are coral reefs analogous to human cities, and how is life on a reef like a “gang war”?
- What’s the difference between healthy and unhealthy coral reefs?
- Why are coral reefs in trouble, and what can be done about it?
Option One: Four-day stand-alone program as outlined below. Option Two: Integrated into a one-week holiday excursion to a dive destination. This provides dive center or other organization with an excellent “value-added” to their travel program. In this integrated format portions of the course (“How Reefs Work” and “What’s Wrong with Reefs?”) are offered as pre-trip online sessions, whereby reducing the time spent in the classroom while on-site.