REEF Fest Seminars


 Come learn about the amazing marine environment and the drastic changes that threaten our oceans! All seminars take place at Murray Nelson Government Center, 102050 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida. All seminars are free, but pre-registration is requested

Click here to register 

Thursday, 9/28


Seminars begin at 7pm 


Friday, 9/29

Cloudy Monster Engineering: How Red Grouper transform their environment, creating homes for many
Presented by: Scott Heppell

3:30 - 4:30 PM

Beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Red Grouper have a job to do. Hard at work day in and day out, these fish actively transform their environment. By excavating with their mouths and fanning with their fins, these ecosystem engineers clear away sediment, which provides clean rocky substrate for the attachment of sessile invertebrates. This behavior creates complex three-dimensional habitat in an otherwise two-dimensional world, providing refuge for a whole community of fishes and mobile invertebrates. This talk will cover our research into this fascinating behavior and discuss the role that Red Grouper play in the ecosystem as well as in local fisheries.

Scott Heppell is an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. His research interests include the physiological ecology and conservation of fishes, in particular how physiology, behavior, and life history traits affect the interactions between fish populations, their respective fisheries, and the environment. He has worked on bluefin tuna on the Atlantic high seas, Mediterranean, east coast of the United States, on groupers throughout the southeast Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, on rockfish in Oregon and Alaska, on sharks in the Adriatic, on forage fishes in the eastern Bering Sea, and on trout, steelhead, and salmon in Japan and the high deserts of eastern Oregon and Northern Nevada. Basically he loves working with fish wherever they can be found and where interesting scientific questions can be asked and conservation issues solved. He teaches classes in Fishery Biology, the Biology of Marine Fishes, Salmon Management in the Pacific Northwest, Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills for Fisheries Wildlife, and Fish Physiology. He earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington and a MS and PhD at North Carolina State University. He has worked on the REEF Grouper Moon project for 13 years.

Successful Citizen Science
Presented by: Lad Akins, REEF Director of Special Projects

 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Join us as we explore the impact of REEF's marine conservation programs on oceans around the world. Lad Akins will provide an overview of significant breakthroughs REEF has had on fish biodiversity - including recent innovations related to invasive species like lionfish and endangered species such as Nassau Grouper. From stories of exciting encounters with marine life to significant successess for the marine environment, this presentation will briefly explore the history of REEF and key steps for the future of this marine conservation organization.

 Lad Akins, REEF's Director of Special Projects, is renowned as a leading expert on invasive lionfish and reef fish identification. Lad helped develop REEF's acclaimed Volunteer Fish Survey Program and has led field research projects around the world. He has discovered and described new species of reef fish, authored more than 20 journal publications and conducted thousands of fish surveys throughout the Tropical Western Atlantic.




Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub