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Credit: Jean Anderson
Credit: Jean Anderson

Volunteers Help Monitor Recovery of Storm-Battered Catalina Island Reef

Edison International employees suit up in scuba gear to survey marine life at Casino Point Reef.
By Debbie Fellman

There are many ways to experience California's beauty: a hike in the mountains, a stroll along the beach. Or, if you’re willing to squeeze into a wet suit, a dive underwater. There, you can explore the colorful ecosystems of rocky reefs and kelp forests.

Like coral reefs worldwide, California’s rocky reefs have been diminished by human activity and oceanic events. Add the effects of last year’s winter windstorms and Catalina Island’s Casino Point Reef isn’t in the best of health. Enter Reef Check, a nonprofit dedicated to saving reefs worldwide, and a longtime partner of Edison International.

“The storm’s impact on the Casino Point Reef was massive,” says Jan Freiwald, director of Reef Check California. Through the Adopt-A-Reef partnership, Edison International and Reef Check are together monitoring recovery of Casino Point Reef. “By regularly monitoring the reef and its marine life, along with our 10 years of historical data from before the storm, we are able to track and evaluate the reef’s recovery.”

Recently, volunteers from Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison, suited up in scuba gear to participate in the last of four marine life surveys at Casino Point Reef this year.

Underwater, with their waterproof clipboards, they counted members of key species such as Garibaldi, the official state marine fish of California, kelp bass, black surfperch, California sheephead, sea cucumbers and marine snails.

Most of the 21 Edison International volunteers at the Casino Point event were experienced divers and participated in the event as members of EcoIQ, one of SCE’s 14 employee resource groups, and the sponsor of the dive event.

“This dive helped me gain a deeper understanding of the situation affecting reefs, and how important it is to document their well-being with consistent data collection,” said Catherine Leland, an SCE senior project manager and the volunteer leader of EcoIQ, who organized the event.

Other recent EcoIQ events included restoring hiking trails that were damaged by the deadly Station Fire in 2009 and tending to urban vegetable gardens at the urban Earthworks Farm & Community Garden.

Reef Check’s work spans the globe, and its scientific methods produce data from reefs worldwide. This data is used to document reef health and preserve and sustain reef ecosystems.

Edison International has a long history of giving back to help marine life flourish along the Southern California coast. Near Del Mar, the San Dieguito Wetlands Restoration Projectrevitalized 150-plus acres of coastal wetlands, creating a fish nursery and a refuge for migratory water fowl and endangered species.

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