Welcome to the Golden Hamlet Club - Patricia Richardson

Patricia Richardson of Hawaii recently submitted her 1000th REEF survey! Pat joins 16 other REEF members in the Golden Hamlet Club. Pat has done most of her surveys at one location, Richardson Ocean Park in Hilo, which has given her a very unique perspective on how the populations change throughout the year and over time. When asked about her recent achievement and what she thinks about REEF, Pat had this to say-- "REEF has provided me with a purpose for my retirement years that is filled with constant beauty and new things to see and learn. I am very grateful to REEF for giving a focus to my passion. Imagine doing something so beatiful and satisfying - and getting to call myself a citizen scientist as a big bonus!"

You can read more about Pat in this past Faces of REEF Member Spotlight. Congratulations Pat, and thank you for your dedication to REEF's mission!

The Faces of REEF: Daryl Duda

Daryl underwater. Photo by Steve Simonsen.
A smiling porcupinefish. Photo by Daryl Duda.
Scrawled Cowfish eating a jellyfish. Photo by Daryl Duda.
One fish that can scare a shark - the Goliath Grouper. Photo by Daryl Duda.

REEF members are at the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. Over 50,000 divers, snorkelers, students, and armchair naturalists stand behind our mission.

This month we highlight Daryl Duda. Daryl has been a REEF member since 2012, and has conducted 43 surveys. He is working his way up the ranks, and is now a Level 3 Surveyor! Here's what Daryl had to say about REEF:

When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member?

I first learned about REEF during a stay in Key Largo while spending the day with the Coral Restoration Foundation. Later, I met Keri Kenning (past REEF intern and staff) at "Our World Underwater" scuba show in Chicago and she invited me to the little yellow house on my next visit to Key Largo. Its been over 2 years and I've been a member since.

What are some of your favorite moments as a REEF surveyor?

During REEF's 20th anniversary REEF Fest event last summer, I did my first survey dives, and it happened to be with Paul Human, Ned and Anna DeLoach, and Jonathan Lavan. After a morning full of interesting seminars, the afternoon diving with this all-star REEF cast made for an incredibly fun filled day. Since those first surveys, I find it difficult to be underwater and not identify and count fish. I feel like all my previous diving was just being underwater looking around. As the Sherpa said to Sir Edmund Hiliary as they scaled the mountain, "Some come to look, but others come 'To See'". I see things I have never seen before now that I started doing field surveys.

Do you have a favorite REEF Field Station?

There are many terrific dive shops in Key Largo. My favorite is Rainbow Reef Dive Center. They put a guide in the water with every 6 or so divers at no extra charge. This way I can concentrate on my photography and fish identification. Their crew is extremely knowledgeable about underwater life and curious about everything we see. Captain Alecia Adamson (another past REEF intern and staff) has become my fish ID mentor. Whenever I get stumped by a fish, I email her a photo and she helps me out.

Do you have a memorable fish encounter?

Diving on Molasses Reef in Key Largo one day, we swam around a ledge to see a 6 foot reef shark cozy up to a goliath grouper. The grouper let out a loud bellow that frightened the shark away. I never saw such a large fish swim so fast. Also, at Elbow Reef off Key Largo I got some good shots of a scrawled cowfish chomping on a jellyfish. It was the cutest thing to watch.

What is your favorite fish?

My favorite fish is the Porcupinefish. I can usually get reasonably close to get a good photo. They always look like they are smiling at you. I also like Honeycomb Cowfish that can change colors right before your eyes.

Any fishwatching tips to share?

I started of very slowly identifying fish because I didn't know very many. I always carry my camera on a dive and Ned DeLoach suggested using my point and shoot to help with my fish ID. Later back home I can zoom in and do a more accurate ID using my library of reference books. If I can't figure it out, I can email the photo to someone at REEF or post on the ID Forum at REEF.org.

REEF Ocean Explorers Summer Camp

We are very excited to introduce REEF’s Ocean Explorers Camp: a summer day camp designed for the ocean-minded and adventurous! REEF Ocean Explorers Camp immerses campers in an ocean of learning and fun! Based at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Florida, REEF will introduce campers to the underwater world and all the amazing things found beneath the sea. Each camp session includes:

  • Snorkel trips to the first underwater state park in the US
  • Kayak ventures into winding mangrove trails
  • Stand up paddle board excursions over seagrass beds
  • Glass bottom boat rides offering a view from the surface
  • Marine science lessons, experiments, and crafts
  • Opportunity to connect with nature and make new friends

Join REEF’s Ocean Explorers Camp to make a splash this summer. We welcome campers ages 8 – 14. Sibling discount available. A $275 camp tuition includes park entry fees, activity expenses, equipment rentals, and souvenir REEF gear including a T-shirt and water bottle! Camp sessions are offered June 15-19, July 13-17, and August 10-14. For more information please visit www.REEF.org/Explorers/Camp or call (305) 852-0030.

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
  • 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

    HPIM1081.JPG
    Our Cold Water Surveyor Award Goes to: Alison Johnson, still surveying in New Brunswick. Way to go, Alison!
    IMG_2463.JPG
    Rare sighting of Tripletail by Candace Grove on Bonaire, shows you do not always have to dive to see something special
    Dwarf_Seahorse_2.jpg
    Dwarf Seahorse - Key Largo: Photo by Joyce Schulke, it pays to muck dive occasionally
    Maura_RileysHump.jpg
    REEF Survey Diver on Riley's Hump, Dry Tortugas, Florida
    Group_Pic_1Coz2007.jpg
    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)

    REEF Receives Exotics Funding from Mote’s Protect Our Reefs Fund

    Dollars to Help Develop Rapid Response Plan 

    In April of this year, REEF received notice our proposal to develop a Marine Exotic Species Action Plan was partially funded through the Mote Marine Protect Our Reefs Fund, which is funded through the Florida coral reef license plate. The project funding will go towards a SE Florida workshop with key federal, state and local agencies to develop a coordinated response plan for dealing with non-native marine fish. To date there have been more than 20 species of non-native fishes documented in a four-county area in Southeast Florida. Of these, the indo-pacific lionfish has become established in the US and Bahamas and is rapidly spreading throughout the Caribbean. To help address this issue and prevent other non-native fish invasions, coordinated early detection and notification, and rapid response plans are needed. 

    REEF will be working in partnership with the USGS and NOAA to lead the early summer workshop focusing on drafting these coordinated action plans. Funding for outreach and to establish and train response teams later this summer is still being sought as part of this effort.

    Stay tuned for an update on the workshop and for future plans for development of local response teams. Be sure to report any sightings of non-native marine organisms to the REEF exotic species website at www.reef.org/programs/exotic

    Wellwood Monitoring Project Final Report Released

    Image7.jpg
    A REEF Advanced Assessment Team member surveys the fish assemblage on a restoration module at the Wellwood grounding site.
    stoplight_gallery.jpg
    Parrotfishes, such as this stoplight parrotfish terminal male, appear to be responding the quickest to restoration efforts. Photo courtesy New World Publications.

    The M/V Wellwood, a 122-meter freighter, ran aground in 1984 on Molasses Reef off Key Largo, Florida. The grounding destroyed 1,285 square meters of living corals. The grounding transformed the area into a flattened, barren pavement covered with coral rubble. Eighteen years after the grounding, the area resembled nearby hard ground habitat with little structure and the benthic community was dominated by gorgonians. Natural recovery to a state similar to the pre-grounding condition failed to occur within a reasonable time frame and therefore, habitat restoration was initiated in May 2002. In the Fall of 2007, REEF completed a five-year monitoring project on the fish assemblages at the Wellwood grounding site and two nearby reference areas. A Summary Report, which summarizes the results of the monitoring effort, has been completed and is available for download from the REEF Wellwood Monitoring webpage.

    Baseline surveys were conducted just prior to and immediately following restoration, quarterly monitoring took place through Year 1 and semi-annual monitoring in Years 2 through 5. The primary goals of this project were to aid in the assessment of restoration efforts and provide a benchmark for long-term evaluation of the fish communities at the grounding site. Teams of REEF Advanced Assessment Team divers conducted 558 roving fish surveys and 559 belt transect surveys during the five year monitoring project.

    Report Conclusions:

    After initial colonization, Restoration site fish assemblage diversity, density and biomass have leveled off and remain lower than that at nearby reference areas. A total of 165 fish species were recorded at the Restoration Site during the 5-year project. In comparison, 189 were documented at the North Reference site and 207 were documented at the South Reference Site. Parrotfish and surgeonfish appear to be responding quickest to the restoration efforts, with densities and biomass values similar to that of the reference sites. Grunt and snapper species are primarily absent from the Restoration Site. The relatively short duration of this study makes it difficult for results to be teased out from natural population variability. Similarly, definitive conclusions cannot be achieved from these data due to the limited amount of time that has passed since restoration and the well-known decadal processes that are required for coral reef development. However, these data will serve as a critical baseline for assessing future changes and the effect of any future restoration efforts at the site.

    For more information about the 5-year project and to read the full report, visit the REEF Wellwood Monitoring webpage. There was also a longer story about the project in the January 2008 REEF-in-Brief.

    Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub