Thank You For Helping Us Reach Our Goal

On behalf of our current, past, and future REEF Marine Conservation Interns, we would like to thank all those who donated during our Spring fundraising campaign to support our internship program. Thanks to the generous contributions of many members, we reached (and surpassed) our goal, raising $10,196! These funds will help ensure that we can continue this important program and support these enthusiastic young professionals as they gain critical career skills. Although less known, the REEF Marine Conservation Internship Program is one of our most successful endeavors. Our interns are a key part of ensuring smooth operations at REEF Headquarters, as they contribute in so many ways to the daily tasks and activities required to manage REEF’s important programs. Through experiences gained and connections made during their internship, many of our interns have gone on to work at government agencies or other non-profit organizations. Others have gone on to complete graduate programs focused on ocean issues. And several of them have come back to work at REEF!

REEF Sponsors Grouper Education Workshop

Educators learned a Food Web Game classroom activity that is part of the Grouper Education Program curriculum. REEF Educator, Todd Bohannon, demonstrates how the food web connections are represented by yarn strung between different members of the coral reef community.
Mr. Bradley Johnson, from Cayman Islands Department of Environment, presenting information to educators during the Grouper Education Workshop on Cayman Brac.
Two students participating in the Grouper Education Program.

On December 3rd and 5th, REEF and the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (DOE) held free educator workshops on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. The professional development workshops presented the Grouper Education Program, a marine sciences curriculum for intermediate/elementary and high school students that was developed as part of the Grouper Moon Project. Nineteen teachers from 12 schools participated, including 2 schools from the Bahamas. Participants received the materials and resources necessary for successfully implementing the Grouper Education Program in their classrooms. This exciting project focuses on bringing the Nassau Grouper into classrooms through lesson plans and interactive live-feed video sessions that connect classrooms with Grouper Moon scientists in the field.

The curriculum presents a multi-faceted view of Nassau Grouper, in which students create their own understanding of this important fish. Key curricular concepts include the historical role of the species as an artisanal fishery throughout the Caribbean region, the grouper’s value as a keystone predator and its impact on local reef health, its role in today’s tourism-based economy in the Cayman Islands and throughout the Caribbean, and the conservation challenges facing Nassau Grouper given steep declines in populations. In addition to classroom lessons, the program includes live-feed video sessions that take place at the Grouper Moon Project research site on Little Cayman, bringing real-world field science into the classroom.

The Grouper Education Program is supported by a grant from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. In-kind logistics and technical support for the workshops was provided by Cayman Airways, Brac Reef Beach Resort, and LIME. The program curriculum was developed to complement the research and scientific efforts of the Grouper Moon Project. Grouper Moon educator, Todd Bohannon, along with Grouper Moon scientists Brice Semmens, Ph.D. (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D. (REEF), and Mr. Bradley Johnson (DOE), have led the educational effort. Activities were developed in consultation with teachers at Cayman Prep on Grand Cayman, Verity Redrup and Brenda Bryce, and Cynthia Shaw, author of the youth fictional book, Grouper Moon. To find out more about the Grouper Moon Project, visit www.REEF.org/groupermoonproject.

Fishinars in the New Year

Learn how to tell Black Rockfish from Blue Rockfish, and other lookalikes. Photo by Janna Nichols.

We have just the thing for after the holiday rush is over -- free, educational REEF Fishinars. These hour-long sessions let you learn and have fun from the comfort of your living room. Check out the full schedule at www.REEF.org/fishinars. And keep an eye on that space because we will be adding new ones for 2015 soon. On the schedule so far....

  • Swimming in the Deep End - Carlos and Allison Estape, January 20th
  • Pacific Northwest Lookalikes - Janna Nichols, January 28th
  • Cayman Fishes - Jonathan Lavan, February 11th
  • Cool Hawaii Finds - 15 Not-So-Common Fishes - Christy Pattengill-Semmens, February 18th
  • The Fishes of Fiji, Part 1 - Christy Pattengill-Semmens, April 6th
  • The Fishes of Fiji, Part 2 - Christy Pattengill-Semmens, April 9th
  • Jack Attack - Jonathan Lavan, April 14th
  • Snap On, Snap Off - Caribbean Snappers - Jonathan Lavan, May 21st
  • More to come!

Explore our Fishinar webpage, register for the sessions you like, and we'll see you online! No special software or microphone is required - just a computer with speakers and an internet connection. And did we mention they are FREE to REEF members!

Putting It To Work: Who's Using REEF Data, June 2015

REEF sightings are an important source of information for rare species such as sawfish. Photo courtesy Simon Fraser University.

Every month, scientists, government agencies, and other groups request raw data from REEF’s Fish Survey Project database. Here is a sampling of who has asked for REEF data recently and what they are using it for:

- A research group at Palm Beach State College is using REEF data on South Florida fish assemblages to evaluate beach renourishment projects.

- Researchers from NOAA's Biogeography office are including REEF data in the development of a management plan for the marine portion of the NE Ecological Corridor Reserves in NE Puerto Rico and Culebra Island.

- Researchers at Bimini Biological Field Station are using REEF sightings of two endangered sawfish species to better understand the species' current distribution and status.

A complete list of scientific publications featuring REEF programs and data can be found at www.REEF.org/db/publications.

REEF Rash Guards and 2nd Edition of Tropical Pacific Fish Book in Online Store

We just added a few great items to REEF's online store -- new rash guards and the much-anticipated 2nd edition of Tropical Pacific Fish Identification. Now is a perfect time to get a jump on your holiday shopping! The rash guards provide stylish sun protection while showing off your support for REEF. The new book includes information on over 200 new species and features over 2,500 color images of fishes you will see throughout the tropical Pacific regions of Indonesia, Philippines, Fiji, and more. Visit www.REEF.org/store to check out these items and more.

REEF Fest 2016 - Make Your Plans

We hope to see you in Key Largo this Fall for REEF Fest 2016! Mark your calendar -- September 29 – October 2, 2016. Our annual celebration of marine conservation includes diving, educational seminars, and social gatherings! Check out www.REEF.org/REEFFest for more information.

Digging for Data: a Fishinar on how to use the REEF Website reports

And now for something completely different - Ever wonder how you could use REEF's amazing, online, publicly accessible database to answer some common questions you might have?

Join REEF staff Ellie Splain and Janna Nichols for a free Fishinar that will answer those questions (we're mind readers and know what you'll ask) and give you tips and tricks along the way. -- Wednesday November 2nd, 8pm Eastern time. Register online at www.REEF.org/fishinars.

And don't miss our other upcoming Fishinars:

  • November 14th - Hawaii - Life in the Sand with Christy Semmens
  • December 15th - Don't Forget the Chubs and Porgies with Carlos and Allison Estapé
  • Putting It To Work: New Publication Uses REEF Data to Evaluate Rockfish Populations in the Puget Sound

    Bocaccio, one of the species evaluated in the new paper. Photo by Janna Nichols.

    A new paper out earlier this month in the scientific journal, Ecology and Evolution includes REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project data as part of a sophisticated analysis of rockfish populations in the Puget Sound, Washington. The paper was published by Dr. Nick Tolimieri, and his colleagues at National Marine Fisheries Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Estimating a population’s growth rate and year-to-year variance is a key component of population viability analysis (PVA). However, standard PVA methods require time series of counts obtained using consistent survey methods over many years. The authors of this study used REEF data along with two other fisheries datasets to evaluate the long-term trends of rockfish in Puget Sound, Washington State. The time-series analysis was performed with a multivariate autoregressive state-space (MARSS) model. The authors show that using a MARSS modeling approach can provide a rigorous statistical framework for solving some of the challenges associated with using multiple, sometimes inconsistent datasets, and can reduce the proportion of fisheries assessment cases that are assigned a designation of “data deficient.”

    The analysis was part of the 5-year review of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of Puget Sound populations of three rockfish species (Bocaccio, Canary Rockfish, and Yelloweye Rockfish). The three sources of data included in the study were: (1) recreational catch data, (2) scuba surveys conducted by REEF surveyors, and (3) a fishery-independent trawl survey. Because there were too few observations of the three species of rockfish in the data sources to analyze these species directly, the MARSS analysis estimated the abundance of all rockfish. Because Bocaccio, Canary, and Yelloweye are deep water species, they are not often seen by REEF surveyors. The other two data sets showed that these rockfishes declined as a proportion of recreational catch between the 1970s and 2010s. The REEF data suggest that other species like Copper and Quillback rockfish have experienced population growth in shallower depths.

    To read more about this study and the other scientific papers that have included REEF data, visit www.REEF.org/db/publications.

    Unusual Fish Sightings from our Members (August)

    Scrawled Trunkfish: (Scrawled Cowfish/Smooth Trunkfish Hybrid). Photo by Linda Baker.Scrawled Trunkfish: (Scrawled Cowfish/Smooth Trunkfish Hybrid). Photo by Linda Baker. Orange Moray: Photo by Todd Fulks.Orange Moray: Photo by Todd Fulks. Striped Bass: Photo by James Guertin.Striped Bass: Photo by James Guertin.

    Holidays are a Great Time to Plan Your Next REEF Field Survey Trip

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    Our Cold Water Surveyor Award Goes to: Alison Johnson, still surveying in New Brunswick. Way to go, Alison!
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    Rare sighting of Tripletail by Candace Grove on Bonaire, shows you do not always have to dive to see something special
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    Dwarf Seahorse - Key Largo: Photo by Joyce Schulke, it pays to muck dive occasionally
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    REEF Survey Diver on Riley's Hump, Dry Tortugas, Florida
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    Cozumel Field Survey Group, December 2007

    If you are looking for a Dive Vacation that Counts for the
    New Year, there is still room on many of our trips for 2008. For a
    condensed view of our upcoming Field Survey season, see below or visit
    our Field Survey page at http://www.reef.org/fieldsurveys/schedule. A couple of quick notes, only one spot left on Turks and Caicos trip so hurry! If interested, please call Travel For You, Inc. at 1-888-363-3345 for the Turks trip only.

    If the cold weather is getting you down? There's no better place to be
    at the end of January than the Cayman Islands. Join REEF Grouper Moon
    researchers on an exciting expedition to Little Cayman
    January 22-29. The all-inclusive package includes 5 days of diving in
    Little Cayman, lodging and meals at the exclusive Southern Cross Club,
    and daily lectures on a broad range of subjects including reef fish
    identification and the Nassau grouper aggregation research that REEF
    has been invovled with. This project coincides with the annual mass
    aggregation of this endangered fish species on the west end of the
    island. To find out more, view the project flyer http://www.reef.org/fieldsurvey or contact the Southern Cross Club office at 1-800-899-2582.

    Also REEF's St. Vincent cryptic survey is selling out
    quickly. This trip has two optional back-to-back weeks of surveying,
    the first week (July 26-Aug2) will be led by world-renowned
    photgrapher, Paul Humann and REEF co-founder. The second week (Aug 2-9,
    2008) will be led by Ned Deloach, award-winning marine life author and
    his wife Anna Deloach. Contact Dive St. Vincent at 784-457-4928 or bill2s@divestvincent.com for information on how to register for either week or both!

    For an all-inclusive REEF trip on the beautiful Mexican Riviera, check out our Field Survey to Akumal at Bahia Principe Resort
    (below) from May 17-24, 2008. I will be leading this trip and there
    will be a lot of conservation education to go along with our fish
    surveys for this trip. This is a best-value trip, especially
    considering the 5-star resort, at $802pp/double occ. for diving,
    accomodations, food, and drinks.  

    2008 Field Survey Schedule

    REEF Grouper Moon Field Survey Expedition - Little Cayman Island, January 20-27, 2008, led by Dr. Christy Semmens (spaces available)

    Turks & Caicos aboard Aggressor II - Turks and Caicos Islands, April 19-26, 2008, led by Joe Cavanaugh (1 space available)

    Bahia Principe Resort, Akumal, Mexico - May 17-24, 2008, led by
    Joe Cavanaugh (spaces available). REEF is working with ReefAid and
    Reefcheck to ensure protection of the reefs along this part of the
    MesoAmerican Barrier Reef. This trip provides a great opportunity to
    witness how private sector cooperation with non-profits can enable
    successful marine conservation and you will have the opportunity to
    participate directly by collecting valuable fish community data for
    REEF.

    Paul Humann's Key Largo Reef Discovery Tour, Key Largo, Florida,
    June 21-28, 2008 (spaces available).  Hands down a perennial
    favorite for first-time surveyors and experts alike.

    St. Vincent Island (Grenadines) Cryptic Species Tour, led by Ned and Anna Deloach and Paul Humann, July 26-Aug 2 (1st week), Aug 2-9 (2nd week) (selling out quickly)

    Sea of Cortez aboard the Don Jose', Oct 5-12, 2008, led by Dr. Brice Semmens (spaces available)

    Cozumel, Mexico with Aqua Safari Divers, Dec 6-13, 2008, led by long-time REEF Volunteer, Sheryl Shea (space available)

    Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub