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About ReefQuest

Fostering Marine Environmental Stewardship Through Citizen Science

ReefQuest was founded by 18-year-old Dylan Vecchione and is a 501 c (3) project of Realize What Matters, Arts and Education, Inc. ReefQuest was founded stemming off from Dylan's vision that kids could become marine environmental stewards if they are given the proper tools to do so. Dylan has witnessed the decline of coral reefs first hand as he returned year after year to Kahekili Reef on Maui, a location he loves and knows under and over the water.  In his short life, Dylan has seen a significant decline in coral cover, as well as algae overgrowth, and incidences of coral disease. Various coral reef stressors are the root cause.  Some are man-made such as water pollution, introduced by nearby "injection wells" that are part of the treatment of sewage on the island of Maui. Dylan has also begun seeing the positive impact of environmental action, including the positive effects that marine protected areas can have on the reef ecosystem. Kahekili was named a Marine Protected Area as a result of the hard work of many stakeholders on the island of Maui and the State of Hawaii. 

Dylan begun his stewardship efforts on behalf of Kahekili Reef, conducting beach "patrols" where he would tell anyone who would listen about the fact that "coral is alive" and urge everyone to participate in engaging in marine and coral preservation efforts. Those early beach patrols became an organized effort to create materials that could educate citizens and students about ocean preservation, coral reef monitoring and coral conservation. Thanks to the mentorship of the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources as well as scientists at the University of Hawaii and the University of Queensland in Australia and the support of the Coral Reef Alliance, Dylan and the early ReefQuest volunteers discovered that scientists need help monitoring and collecting data about the state of coral reefs around the world. The mission of ReefQuest was born: to engage kids and students everywhere to participate in citizen science in support of coral reef and marine habitats conservation and research.

ReefQuest is not just an environmental effort. We are also creating a new way of teaching science, engaging students with participatory, project-based curriculum, that has now been tested by over 50,000 people throughout the world. 

 

About the Virtual Reef 

The central part of ReefQuest's effort is the creation of the Virtual Reef. The Virtual Reef,  is the first time anyone has attempted to create a high resolution, 3D underwater panoramas, to document real coral reefs. The value of the virtual reef goes beyond creating a new way to document the conditions of large sections of a coral reef,  at a particular time.   It enables quantitative and qualitative assessments of larger sections of an entire reef, as well as the comparison of the evolution of the reef over time. Additionally it provides an interactive  platform to engage students into analyzing coral reefs in great detail without the need to ever get into the water. The Virtual Reef has become a curriculum development tool of importance.  Through companion "digital surveys" students can learn protocols and techniques used in actual field surveys. They can also analyze trends in coral health that mimic real-life studies done on actual underwater scientific sites.

Through our "Partner Schools" program, ReefQuest has also begun teaching schools near other marine environments how to extend the virtual reef to those settings. Ultimately we would like to see significant sections of coral reefs world-wide represented in the Virtual Reef. Partner Schools have also built Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROUV) to facilitate the creation of larger Virtual Reefs. The Partner Schools deployed their underwater, student built, imaging robots in their marine ecosystem for the first time during the 2011-2012 school year. 

About Realize What Matters, Arts and Education.

Realize Arts and Education, Inc. is a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization founded by Jeanne Demers, and is dedicated to bringing programs that teach self-esteem, tolerance, stewardship, and artistic expression into reality.

Discover More About Realize What Matter, Arts and Education

For More Specific Information About ReefQuest

Learn more about our team

Learn more about the Virtual Reef.

Learn more about our Virtual Citizen Science Surveys.

Learn more about our @School curriculum.

Read about ReefQuest in the press.

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