REEF Fest 2015 Seminars


Topics, location, registration:

Fish ID, The Lives of Blennies, Fish Behavior, Grouper Moon, Invasive Lionfish, and more. There's something to learn for everyone! All seminars will take place at Murray Nelson Government Center, 102050 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, Florida. All seminars are free, but pre-registration is requested. Specific dates and times for each seminar will be listed soon.

Click here to register. 

Thursday, 9/24

Introduction to Florida Keys Fish ID
Presented by: Jonathan Lavan, REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project Program Assistant

1:40 - 2:30 PM

The voices behind many of our Caribbean Fishinars, Jonathan will introduce you to the most common fish found in the Florida and Caribbean reefs and lead an exciting game of FISH-O! There are several REEF survey dives organized during the weekend to test out your new ID skills.

Zombies, Hermaphrodites, Mimics & More: Advanced FL Keys Fish ID & Behavior 
Presented by: Carlos and Allison Estape, REEF Experts

2:30 - 3:20 PM

Carlos and Allison will "dive" deeper into more advanced Florida Keys fish ID and behavior. THey will share some really wild examples of fish evolution & behavior that will leave you amazed. There are several REEF survey dives organized during the weekend to test out your new ID skills.

FIU Medina Aquarius Reef Base - Gateway to Inner Space
Presented by: Aileen Soto, Medina Aquarius Program Assistant Director

3:40 - 4:30 PM

At FIU's Medina Aquarius Reef Base, we believe that exploration is vital to the human spirit and endeavor to meet challenges of working in extreme environments in a cost effective way. Capitalizing on the capabilities of the Aquarius habitat - the world's only manned undersea saturation research station - a coalition of scientists, educators, engineers and visionaries challenge the boundaries of the sea to further scientific discovery and engage a worldwide audience through interactive classes and other live programming. Join the Aquarius team as they introduce REEF Fest participants about what it's like to be an aquanaut 18 meters beneath the sea off the coast of Key Largo and discuss a world of opportunities at the extremes. 

Florida Keys Ecology
Presented by: Ellie Splain
, REEF Education Program Manager

4:30 - 5:20 PM

The Florida Keys are home to many diverse habitats, including mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. The Florida Keys reef system is North America's only living barrier reef and the third largest barrier reef in the world! Despite its economic and ecological significance, this barrier reef represents only 3% of Florida Keys habitats. Ellie will explain the importance of seagrass and mangroves, as well as how the Keys habitats are interconnected, and discuss the impacts of development in South Florida. 


Friday, 9/25

Restoring Coral Reefs in the Florida Keys
Presented by: Ken Nedimyer, Coral Restoration Foundation

1:40 - 2:30

Ashley Hill, Volunteer & Education Coordinator at Coral Restoration Foundation,  will talk about the work CRF is doing in Florida and elsewhere, why they are doing it, and what the future may hold. CRF has built the largest offshore coral nursery in the Western hemisphere, and it's right off Key Largo.  Ken will share pictures and video of recent work in the nursery.  Anyone interested in diving at the nursery and planting coral with the CRF team on Saturday should plan to attend this seminar.

Making a Splash in Citizen Science: 22 Years of the Volunteer Fish Survey Project
Presented by: Christy Pattengill-Semmens Ph.D., REEF Director of Science

2:30 - 3:20 PM

The REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project is REEF’s cornerstone citizen science program. Started in 1993, this project engages volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations as well as sea turtles and select invertebrate and algae species. It has grown to become one of the most effective and powerful ocean citizen science program, and has generated the world’s largest database on marine fishes. These data are being used to better understand and protect ocean ecosystems worldwide. REEF is regarded as a leader in the field of Citizen Science. Christy will share some of the stories of how the survey program got where it is today, and the impact the data are having worldwide

The Lives of Blennies
Presented by: Anna DeLoach, REEF Board Member

3:40 - 4:30 PM

Anna DeLoach, famed underwater naturalist, videographer, and the creator of, will introduce you to one of her favorite group of fish, the blenny! Despite their small size, blennies play an important role in underwater ecosystems and the diversity of this family is amazing. Anna has spent hundreds of hours documenting the lives of these fascinating fishes. This is sure to be an entertaining session! 

Big Animal Adventures
Presented by: Marty Snyderman, REEF Board Member

4:40 - 5:20 PM

Over the course of his career, Marty has enjoyed the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time diving with and photographing a variety of marine animals that can collectively be referred to as Mr. Big. These animals include humpback whales, great white sharks, American crocodiles, manta rays, and California sea lions etc. In this presentation Marty will share some of his personal history diving with and offer insights into what he has learned along the way. And he'll throw in some thoughts about expeditions you might want to join as a well  as offering a few photo tips along the way. 


 Saturday, 9/26

Invasive Lionfish:  Research & Results 
Presented by: Lad Akins, REEF Director of Special Projects

1:40 - 2:30 PM

Lad will provide an overview of the latest science and research findings of the devastating invasion of the Indo-Pacific Lionfish into western Atlantic waters, as well as provide basic collection and handling training. Topics will include background of the invasion, biology and ecology of lionfish, impacts of invasive lionfish on native Caribbean reefs, current research findings, and collecting tools and techniques. Note: this is not a FKNMS permit workshop. 

Sharks: Myth vs. Reality 
Presented by: Andy Dehart, REEF Board of Trustees, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

2:30 - 3:20 PM

Sharks are fascinating animals that have adapted to become the perfect predators of the marine ecosystem. There is a lot of information about sharks in popular culture, but is it all true? Andy has worked with sharks for over 25 years, including being featured in several Shark Week television shows on the Discovery Channel, and is passionate about these amazing animals and their conservation. 


Grouper Moon:  Protecting a Caribbean Icon
Presented by: Christy Pattengill-Semmens Ph.D., REEF Director of Science and Brice Semmens Ph.D., Grouper Moon Lead Scientist and Professor Scripps Institution of Oceanography

3:40 - 4:30 PM

The Grouper Moon Project is one of REEF's premier marine conservation projects, helping to unravel the mystery of mass spawning aggregations in the endangered Nassau Grouper. Each winter, REEF scientists and our collaborators at the Cayman Islands Department of Environment study the largest aggregation remaining, which hosts over 4,000 fish. Christy will review some of the highlights of what we have learned about this natural phenomenon and what we are doing to help save this iconic species, as well as share some of the footage and images captured at the Little Cayman aggregation site.

Underwater Encounters 
Presented by: Ned DeLoach, REEF Co-Founder and Board Member

4:30 - 5:20 PM

As an author of the renowned Reef Fish Identification series, Ned has certainly had some amazing underwater encounters. Ned explores the fascinating world of marine life behavior in his monthly Encounters article for Scuba Diving Magazine. Join Ned in this seminar as he shares some of his best stories and photos, a collection of encounters that we all hope to have one day. 



Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub