Frequently Asked Questions

What is REEF?
What is REEF's Fish Survey Project?
How do I get involved in volunteer fish surveying?
What do I need to become a REEF surveyor?
Where can I get survey materials?
Where can I conduct REEF surveys?
Where can I go to take a fish ID seminar?
What should I do if I need a member number or lost mine?
How can I change my mailing address and mailing preferences?
What happens to the data I collect?
How can I access REEF fish data?
How can I access fish data that I collected?
Where do I find a list of REEF's Geographic Zone Codes?
Who uses the data collected by REEF members?
Are other animals included besides fish?
Why are healthy and diseased green sea turtle sightings included in REEF surveys from Hawaii?
What are the different levels of surveyor experience?
What is the Advanced Assessment Team (AAT)?
Does REEF offer internships?
What is the Great Annual Fish Count?
Where can I find media and press resources?

What is REEF?
The Reef Environmental Education Foundation is a grass-roots, non-profit organization of recreational divers who regularly conduct fish biodiversity and abundance surveys during their dives. These surveys are conducted as part of REEF's Fish Survey Project, and become part of a database that is publicly-accessible via this Website. More about REEF.

What is REEF's Fish Survey Project?
The REEF Fish Survey Project is a volunteer fish monitoring program that enables volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations. The data are collected using a fun and easy standardized method, the Roving Diver Technique (RDT) and are housed in a publicly-accessible database on REEF's Website. Data collected by REEF volunteers are used for public education and by a variety of resource agencies and researchers. More about the Fish Survey Project.

How do I get involved in volunteer fish surveying?
Contact REEF and become a REEF member- it's Free! As part of REEF, you are encouraged to conduct surveys as part of your regular dives. You can also join in on Field Surveys and other special projects.

What do I need to become a REEF surveyor?
To conduct REEF surveys, the only thing you have to have is the REEF scanform that is available from the REEF online store. REEF has created other survey materials as well that make your survey experience easier, including formatted slates and waterproof survey paper and waterproof color ID cards. Participating in a REEF Field Survey Trip is a great introduction to the Volunteer Survey Project. REEF Field Stations also offer introductory courses in fish ID. These two-hour seminars are not required to participate in the Project, but are a great way to get started. More about the survey method. More about REEF Field Survey Trips.

Where can I get survey materials?
Survey materials, including REEF scanforms, can be ordered online at the REEF Store or by contacting REEF HQ. Materials can also be purchased from our Field Stations.

Where can I conduct REEF surveys?
You can do a REEF fish survey anytime you are in the water, as part of your regular diving activity. Surveys can be conducted anywhere within the geographic coverage of the REEF Fish Survey Project. This currently includes the:

Tropical Western Atlantic- Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic States
Northeast US & Canada- Virginia through Newfoundland
West Coast- California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia
Tropical Eastern Pacific- Gulf of California to the Galapagos Islands
Hawaiian Islands- main islands, the northwest chain, and Johnston Atol

Where can I go to take a fish ID seminar?
Introduction to Fish Identification seminars are conducted in conjunction with the annual REEF event, the Great American Fish Count. These free seminars are held each May and June. For a complete list of GAFC activities, visit the Website www.fishcount.org. REEF Field Stations and many partners also teach REEF seminars.

What should I do if I need a member number or lost mine?
When you join REEF, you will receive a member ID number. This number will link your survey data to you. If you already have a member number but can't remember it, contact REEF HQ by email reefhq@reef.org or by phone at 305-852-0030.
How can I change my mailing address and mailing preferences?
Become a registered user of the REEF.org website and then update your contact information.

What happens to the data I collect?
After you conduct a REEF fish survey, you transfer the data to a scanform and return it to REEF HQ. REEF personnel review the completed forms and then scan the forms into a computer. A series of quality control programs are run on the datafiles and then the survey data are loaded into REEF's online database. From this database, a variety of reports can be generated on species distribution and population trends, for a specific reef or large geographic regions. These data are used by REEF members, the public-at-large, and the scientific and resource agency communities. The time frame from receipt of a survey at REEF HQ to uploading to the database is usually between 6-8 weeks. Data entered via the online survey data interface is typically processed within 1-2 weeks.

How can I access REEF fish data?
The REEF data are stored on a publicly accessible database that is housed on this Website. Anyone can view the data summaries. Visit the REEF database here.

How can I access fish data that I collected?
REEF members who conduct surveys can view a summary of their data, including their life list of species seen by logging into REEF.org and then clicking on the My Data link. More about becoming a registered REEF.org user.

Where can I find a listing of REEF's Geographic Zone Codes?
Each site that a REEF survey is conducted is assigned a unique eight digit code. The codes are part of REEF's hierarchical set of zone codes. You can find the listing of zone codes here.

Who uses the data collected by REEF members?
The REEF dataset is publicly-accessible on this Website. A variety of groups use the data, including REEF members, the general public, and several conservation groups and management agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Park Service, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC). As the REEF Fish Survey Project has grown, several scientific papers and products have been produced using the roving diver survey method and the REEF database. In addition, the REEF Fish Survey Project has become integrated into several projects. To read more about these projects and to see a list of scientific papers that have produced, visit the Monitoring and Research page and the Publications page.

Are other animals included besides fish?
While the main focus of REEF's program is marine fish, we have incorporated two additional components through collaborations with other organizations - the Invertebrate and Algae Monitoring Program in REEF's Pacific Region and the Sea Turtle Sighting Program.

Why are healthy and diseased green sea turtle sightings included in REEF surveys from Hawaii?
Due to the growing incidence of Fibropapillomatosis (FP) tumors in Hawaiian green sea turtle populations, REEF included the sighting of healthy turtles and turtles inflicted with FP in our Hawaii survey methodology. For more information, click here.

What are the different levels of surveyor experience?
REEF fish survey data are separated into two categories based on experience level- Novice and Expert. These experience levels are determined by number of surveys completed and examination scores. Click here to read more about these experience levels.

What is the Advanced Assessment Team (AAT)?
REEF members who achieve Expert status make up our Advanced Assessment Team (AAT). The AAT are invited to participate in special projects such as monitoring work with the National Marine Sanctuary Program and other research projects. To read more about these special projects, visit the AAT page.

Does REEF offer internships?
REEF offers summer internship opportunities in partnership with the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society. Visit the OWU Scholarship page to learn more and submit an application. Please note the application deadline for summer 2008 is January 31, 2008. There may also be opportunities for self-funded internships at other times of the year on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Lad Akins, Director of Special Projects, for more information: lad@reef.org; (305) 852-0030, ext. 2.

What is the Great Annual Fish Count?
The Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) is an annual REEF event to celebrate volunteer fish monitoring and provides an introduction to REEF's Fish Survey Project for divers and snorkelers. Leading up to the event, which takes place each July, local partners organize free fish ID seminars. The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program provides support for the GAFC and event activities focus on Sanctuary sites including: Channel Islands NMS, Florida Keys NMS, Flower Garden Banks NMS, Gray's Reef NMS, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS, Monterey Bay NMS, Olympic Coast NMS, Stellwagen Bank NMS. For more information on the GAFC and to see a list of seminars and other activities, visit the Website at www.fishcount.org. This event was formally known as the Great American Fish Count.

Where can I find media and press resources?
Check out REEF's Media Resources page.

 

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