Since 2014, community volunteers have been conducting monthly nearshore surveys of key reef fish species by suiting up in their snorkel gear and swimming out with data sheets and clipboards. These citizen scientists collect data that is vital to detecting changes in reef fish populations through presence, absence, and abundance surveys. The information they compile helps to ensure that management activities, including voluntary fishing guidelines, are having the desired effect and helping to restore abundance to Polanui’s reef.
METHODS AND FINDINGS
Presence/absence surveys of nearshore reef areas can be conducted by most any person, of any age. Volunteers simply indicate the presence of key reef fish species by checking a box on the data collection sheet (shown above)
Presence/absence surveys have been conducted since July, 2014.
Abundance surveys are conducted by strong swimmers with the ability to identify fish (training provided). The surveys require pairs of volunteers to swim along two 100 m transects while recording fish data on a collection sheet (shown left). Abundance surveys have been conducted since December, 2014. This bi-monthly monitoring is already highlighting differences across habitats, but it is too early to tell if these are real trends or a result of natural variability.