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February 1998 Vol. 13, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Saving the Reefs with a Government Subsidy

from the February, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Several nonprofit organizations supply diving volunteers to assist in the research being conducted by noted university professors and researchers -- and all your expenses are fully tax deductible.

But, for those taxpayers who wish to remain conservative, there are cautions. Susan Sammon of CEDAM International says “In theory, the share of cost contributions made to support scientific research projects are tax deductible. However, the IRS takes particular issue with deductions for travel expenses, especially when there is a ‘significant amount of personal pleasure.’ ... Several CEDAM members have had their expedition donation claims challenged, however, upon review of support material and documentation provided by the participants, their deductions were allowed to stand.

When you volunteer, typically you engage in a wide range of tasks to assist the researcher; collecting specimens, measuring the reef, making and recording observations, and doing basic grunt work. Usually one gets a couple of working dives a day and will get opportunity for several leisure dives. Volunteers come back satisfied that they have made a contribution to helping our planets oceans and critters.

Here our several reputable organizations that conduct trips.

CEDAM has several trips coming up: Volunteers will travel in the Maldives, aboard the Manthiri, to produce photos and videos for local students. Also, aboard the Aggressor fleet, they’ll study nudibranchs in Hawaii, survey reefs in the Bahamas, Fiji and the Turks and Caicos. From land, they’ll count fish in the Bonaire Marine Park Fish Census.

For more information, send one dollar to CEDAM, One Fox Road, Croton on Hudson, NY, 10520 914/271-5365, fax 914 271-4723. email Web site:

REEF, founded by Paul Humann, has several field survey project in 1998, most likely all tax deductible, but REEF does not emphasize it. Because the demand is great for their services, more will be added as they get participants. This year they have land-based trips to the Turks and Caicos islands. Bonaire, Grand Cayman, and will survey fish from live-aboards in the Florida Keys, Saba, and the Texas Flower Gardens.

For information about trips and membership contact REEF, PO Box 246, Key Largo, Florida 33037. Phone 305/451-0322; fax 305/451-0028; Web

Earthwatch sends more than 3000 volunteers into the field each year. In 1998 they will study The Dhows of Oman: diving to 35 feet to examine ancient boats, sleeping Arab style, on floor mats, in the desert. And, they will work to save Maui’s reefs, counting fish, estimating coral cover, determining the impact of people feeding fish, testing water quality; stay in a research houses with shared bedrooms.

In addition, they offer other marine research programs, some of which involve snorkeling and may permit scuba. Contact: Earthwatch, 680 Mt. Auburn St., Box 403, Watertown, MA 02272. 800/776-0188, fax 617 926-8532; email: Membership in Earthwatch is $25/year, which includes a frequent magazine/catalogue describing the trips in detail.

University Research Expeditions frequently has trips for divers, but the 1998 schedule is not yet set; they have a September trip studying the Glowing Squid of Banyuyls Bay in France where snorkeling is useful. URE, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720; 510/642-6586; fax 510 642 6791. email: web:

The Oceanic Society had research diving trips to Belize and Midway Island in 1997 and may offer them again in 1999. Oceanic Society, Fort Mason Center Building E, San Francisco, CA 94123. 415/441-1106; 800 326 7491; fax 415; 474 3395.

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