Making It Count - December 2017

It's Not Too Late to Make a Difference in 2017!

Donors of $250 or more during our winter campaign will receive this signed and numbered photograph of schooling hammerhead sharks taken in the Galapagos. Photo by Paul Humann.

Happy New Year and thank you to all our members who have donated during our winter fundraising campaign! Because of your support, we are able to conserve marine environments worldwide. If you have not yet contributed, we still need your help! We are approaching the last few days to make a tax-deductible donation for 2017. Please take a moment to contribute online at You may also mail your donation to REEF at PO Box 370246, Key Largo, FL 33037, or call us at 305-852-0030.

The health of the oceans is more important now than ever, and in the coming year, REEF will continue working to protect biodiversity and ocean life. Individual gifts from members like you make what we do possible, and we are so grateful for your support.

As a special thank you, donors of $250 or more will receive a limited-edition, signed, and numbered print of schooling Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks that I photographed in the Galapagos Islands. Click here to make your year-end gift today.

Thank you for being a part of REEF, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday season.We wish you all the best in the new year!

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Putting it to Work: New Publication Showing Link Between Land Impacts and Fish Populations

Figure 4a from Roberts et al 2017 paper in "Ocean & Coastal Management", showing a topographic map of Bonaire.

We are proud to share details on a recent scientific paper published using REEF data - "Terrestrial degradation impacts on coral reef health: Evidence from the Caribbean" by M. Roberts et al. This was the 7th scientific paper using REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project data or other REEF projects published in 2017.

In this paper, published in the journal Ocean & Coastal Management, REEF fish survey data collected from Bonaire in 2015 were used to help evaluate the impact of terrestrial degradation on nearby coral reefs, specifically investigating the link between vegetation ground cover and tree biomass index to coral cover, fish communities, and visibility. The authors found a positive relationship between ground cover and coral cover below 10 m depth, and a negative relationship between tree biomass index and coral cover below 10 m. Greater ground cover is associated with sediment anchored through root systems, and higher surface complexity, slowing water flow, which would otherwise transport sediment. The negative relationship between tree biomass index and coral cover is unexpected, and may be a result of the deep roots associated with dry-forest trees, due to limited availability of water, which therefore do not anchor surface sediment, or contribute to surface complexity. The analysis provides evidence that coral reef managers could improve reef health through engaging in terrestrial ecosystem protection, for example by taking steps to reduce grazing pressures, or in restoring degraded forest ecosystems. 

To see all of the scientific papers featuring REEF data, visit

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The Faces of REEF: 2017 Volunteer of the Year, Nancy Perez

REEF is proud to announce Nancy Perez as our 2017 Volunteer of the Year. REEF has over 67,000 members and Nancy is proud of her longtime support as member number 589! Nancy originally joined REEF because of her interest in diving, marine fishes and underwater photography.

When she moved to Key Largo in 1996, Nancy was closer to REEF’s Headquarters and looked for ways to be active in the community, learning more about REEF while volunteering for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Despite joining in 1993, Nancy did not complete her first fish survey until 2005 while on a REEF Field Survey Trip in Key Largo, led by Paul Humann. Nancy has since conducted more than 50 TWA fish surveys.

In 2008, Nancy began to dedicate more time to REEF by volunteering as a part of REEF’s outreach events committee, assisting with the fundraiser dinner event, For the Love of the Sea. From there, Nancy was a part of the committee that planned REEF’s first Fish & Friends event in March of 2009. Since then Nancy has taken a lead role in organizing the monthly Fish & Friends seminar series by organizing speakers to present at the event, encouraging other volunteers to bring food and drinks to the social gathering before the seminar, and advertising the event throughout the Upper Keys community by distributing flyers to more than 30 local businesses each month.

Today, Nancy is formally REEF’s Volunteer Coordinator, an entirely volunteer position. She has organized nearly 100 Fish & Friends events, and planned or assisted in the organization of many other events, including REEF’s annual holiday party, the dedication of REEF’s Headquarters building in 2009, and every REEF Fest event since the event began in 2013.Nancy also assists with REEF’s Invasive Lionfish Program by coordinating volunteers to make and serve lionfish ceviche during Invasive Lionfish Derbies.

Nancy is an invaluable member of REEF who brings style and flare to our events hosted in South Florida. Nancy shares her passion with all who she encounters, making her a wonderful ambassador for REEF and our mission. We are so grateful for the time, enthusiasm, and dedication that Nancy offers REEF. Nancy – Thank You and Congratulations!

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New "Grumpy Grouper" T-shirt

Earlier this month we added a new color of the fabulous "Grumpy Grouper" t-shirt to REEF's online store. The "Grumpy Grouper" shirt features artwork from REEF friend and world famous painter, diver, and character extraordinaire, Ron Steven (aka Rogest). Painted in support of REEF's Grouper Moon Project, "Grumpy" features the face of a Nassau Grouper, with the tag line "Extinction Makes Me Grumpy". The new shirt can be ordered here. 

And more about the Grouper Moon Project can be found here.


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REEF Survey Tip: Geographic Zone Codes

Are you a REEF surveyor? Wondering about Geographic Zone Codes for our survey sites? The REEF Zone Codes are a hierarchical system used to organize survey sites by region. You can find the zone code listings by going to > Database > Geographic Zone Codes > then select the region you want, and then use the interactive maps to find your specific location.

If you can't find what you're looking for on the list, we can add new locations! Just contact and let Janna know more specifics about where you were diving/snorkeling (landmarks, parks, hotels, street intersections, bridge names, etc.), and she can help find the site code, or create one if it doesn't exist. GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) are even more helpful if you can get them off your GPS or phone, from the dive charter, on Google Earth, or by going to:

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Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub