More than sixty people gathered recently at the Fish House Encore in Key Largo, Florida, for Lionfish Food and Wine Night, a four course dinner with paired wines meant to introduce the light, white meat and delicious flavor of lionfish. And to give lionfish a taste of their own medicine.
The invasive species, known for their voracious appetites and rapid reproduction, was prepared four different ways with a creative medley of ingredients and wine selections. Entrées included bacon-wrapped barbeque lionfish, sea salt-cured lionfish ceviche and poached lionfish. Many guests said their favorite dish was Lionfish Bermuda, a lionfish fillet encrusted with fried red onions and Japanese breadcrumbs, baked and served with a sweet and sour sauce atop baby arugula salad.
Before dining, event attendees learned about the lionfish invasion and the importance of removing lionfish from marine environments. Peter Tselikis, chef at Fish House Encore, showed the audience how to cook two popular lionfish dishes. Lad Akins, a renowned lionfish expert and Director of Special Projects at Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), taught the audience how to fillet lionfish, avoiding the venomous spines.
“It’s exciting to see such strong public and commercial interest in consuming lionfish,” says Akins. “Developing a market for lionfish is a great way to provide incentive for increased removals. Even non-divers can make a real impact, by ordering the fish at their local restaurants, helping to decrease lionfish populations and minimize their impacts.”
Lionfish, which have now invaded the Western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, are gluttonous predators of native fish and invertebrates. One published study by Green et al. shows lionfish reduced the native fish prey community at some sites in the Bahamas by an average of 65% in just two years. Some sites had a 95% decline.
Despite the dismal outlook, there is good news. Published studies show local control by divers and fishers can be effective, Akins notes. “Removing lionfish from local reefs is like weeding a garden. Remove weeds and the garden is healthier. Remove lionfish and the reefs are healthier. The key is regular removals, year round.”
For more information on catching, cleaning and cooking lionfish, read the recently published Lionfish Cookbook or visit www.REEF.org/lionfish.
REEF is widely recognized as a leading authority in lionfish research, removal practices and educational outreach. REEF partners with scientists and government agencies to conduct lionfish research and engage stakeholders in removals. These activities are integral to local, national and international plans and strategies addressing the invasion.
About the Fish House Encore
The Encore is a locally owned and operated gourmet restaurant and piano bar renowned for its unique culinary creations. The Encore is the first restaurant in the Florida Keys to begin serving lionfish as a regular menu item.
REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) has announced its 2012 Volunteer of the Year recipient, Jonathan Lavan. Lavan joined REEF in 2004 and since then, has logged 324 REEF fish surveys and become a member of REEF's Advanced Assessment Teams for both the Tropical Western Atlantic and Pacific Coast survey regions, gathering key data on marine fish and invertebrate populations for REEF's publically accessible online database. He has submitted surveys in five of REEF's six regions.
Lavan's involvement with REEF has been instrumental in spreading the word about REEF and its programs. In 2012, he helped to expand the Volunteer Fish Survey project by instructing for REEF's online webinars, called Fishinars. His background in theatre, sense of humor and teaching style quickly made his Fishinars popular with both new and experienced fishwatchers. He has also assisted by serving as an administrator for REEF's experience level tests.
As a former diver and staff member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, and a current diver at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Lavan actively seeks opportunities to educate others about marine life, conservation and REEF. He is often a guest speaker at dive clubs and shows, and especially enjoys educating youth.
An avid underwater photographer, he uses his images gathered over the past 10 years to educate others about marine life, and many of his photos appear in art shows as well as online resources such as FishBase, Encyclopedia of Life, the Florida Museum of Natural History, and more. Lavan has also written several articles for online underwater photography publications.
Selecting just one outstanding volunteer each year is difficult. REEF volunteers are the cornerstone of the organization. The success of REEF’s marine conservation programs are in many ways dependent on our dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. They are central to the REEF Volunteer Survey Project, in which over 12,000 divers and snorkelers have submitted their sightings information to create the largest marine life database in the world. To date, over 168,000 surveys have been submitted.
Over 100 marine conservationists, scientists and prominent figures in the diving industry gathered in Davie this weekend to commemorate 23 years of marine conservation by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). The REEF Board of Trustees and staff invited the Sustainers Club to Mango Manor, the home of esteemed underwater photographer and REEF President, Paul Humann, for a day of presentations and camaraderie.
“People stress the oceans: overfishing, development, pollution. The list goes on,” says Humann. “But this weekend provides hope. It’s encouraging to see so many leaders from the diving community come together and show support for REEF’s ocean conservation projects. Without them, we wouldn’t have the resources to continue collecting scientific data and protecting biodiversity.”
Individuals in the Sustainers Club are key sponsors and long-time supporters of the organization. They provide significant financial and logistical support for REEF’s key programs: the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, Invasive Lionfish Program and conservation of Nassau grouper through the Grouper Moon Project.
Attendees included Paul Humann, Peter Hughes, Marty Snyderman and Neal Watson, all recipients of one of the highest awards in scuba diving, the Dive Equipment and Manufacturing Association’s Reaching Out Award. Humann, Hughes and Snyderman are members of the REEF Board of Trustees.
REEF scientists Christy Semmens, Ph.D., and Brice Semmens, Ph.D. led a presentation that reviewed the Grouper Moon project on Little Cayman Island. For ten years, REEF has used a variety of research techniques and state-of-the-art technology to monitor one of the last remaining Nassau Grouper spawning aggregations in the Caribbean. Their work has yielded scientific data that has led to seasonal fishing bans and improved conservation efforts for the iconic species in the Cayman Islands.
“The advantage of all the years of research by REEF is that we have enough data to show this conservation project is really working,” said Dr. Guy Harvey, marine conservationist and Cayman resident. “This knowledge can be applied regionally to help other countries recover their Nassau Grouper populations.”
Other presentations included an overview of REEF’s recent and upcoming invasive lionfish research projects in the Atlantic and Caribbean, and an “insider’s tour” of a lionfish dissection, led by REEF Director of Special Projects, Lad Akins.
About Reef Environmental Education Foundation
REEF is a grassroots organization dedicated to ocean conservation. Founded in 1990 with support from the Nature Conservancy, REEF enlists recreational divers and marine enthusiasts to perform citizen science. REEF volunteers play an important role in documenting many valuable and vulnerable living marine resources. They add to the knowledge base of ocean ecosystems and facilitate informed decision-making. Through REEF’s efforts, marine citizen scientists impart an ethic of stewardship to current and future generations.
Dive News Network awards the 2013 Diver of the Year award to Janna Nichols. The Diver of the Year award, created in 2005 by the Dive News Network is to recognize the contributions of a local scuba diver who has made a significant contributions to the Pacific Northwest dive community. These contributions can be made over time or sustained over many years. This year, DNN awards Nichols the award because of her work as a volunteer, environmental advocate and work as REEF Outreach Coordinator including their online Fish ID webinar series.
More information about Janna Nichols:
Janna has been involved in the diving industry for more than 10 years. She has been a scuba instructor and an AAUS scientific diver, as well as Diving Safety Officer for Washington State University - Vancouver. She served on the board of the Washington Scuba Alliance for several years.
Always interested in marine life identification, underwater photography and teaching, many of her photos appear in fish ID books by well-known authors such as Andy Lamb, Milton Love and Paul Humann, as well as many newspapers and websites. As a volunteer, she has conducted over 700 REEF surveys, been in the Top Ten of REEF's most active surveyors in the Pacific region since 2002, and has completed many projects as a member of REEF's Advanced Assessment Team. She was REEF's Volunteer of the Year in 2003.
Involved with local marine conservation issues, Janna was selected to serve on both the Rockfish and Giant Pacific Octopus Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Advisory Groups, and was part of the WDFW "Tunicate Response Action Committee" dealing with invasive tunicates.
She has taught numerous fish ID classes, been a speaker at many dive clubs throughout the Pacific NW, and has a website, pnwscuba.com of interest to local divers and marine enthusiasts. Hired as REEF's Outreach Coordinator in 2010, one of her favorite achievements has been to implement their "Fishinar" program: online webinars that teach Fish ID.
Dreaming of diving? Want to talk fish? Share scuba stories? Be sure to visit REEF and get your underwater fill at the Our World Underwater consumer dive show in Chicago, February 15-17th. REEF staff and volunteers will be at Booth 1004, ready to tell you about our exciting programs, answer your questions, and equip you with the latest REEF gear. We will be offering free REEF memberships, so stop by and sign up as a REEF member if you haven't already.
Keri Kenning, Communications and Affiliate Program Manager at REEF, will be giving a seminar presentation called "Lionfish Invasion 101." This session will cover lionfish biology, ecology, research, and ways divers can make a positive impact. Time will be allocated for questions. The presentation is Saturday, February 16th at 12:00pm in Room 47.
For more information on the Our World Underwater Show, please visit www.ourworldunderwater.com. Hope to see you there!
When University of Kansas graduate Keri Kenning joined REEF in August 2012 as a marine conservation intern, Keys residents constantly reminded her, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” Five months, sixty dives, and zero lionfish stings later, Keri has abstained from clicking those ruby red heels together and returning to Kansas. She is staying at REEF headquarters in Key Largo as the new Communications and Affiliate Program Manager.
Keri graduated in May 2012 from the University of Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and University Honors. She began snorkeling at 10, diving at 14, and has been a bona fide Critterwatcher from the start. As an undergraduate, she lived in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a semester researching invasive lionfish and marine ecosystems. The Marine Conservation Internship was the perfect introduction to REEF programs and the diving community. As the Communications and Affiliate Program Manager, Keri writes press releases, manages social media pages, recruits Field Stations, and organizes community outreach and special events.
The Reef Environmental Education Foundation recently received a large donation through a creative fundraising project. Chesterton High School in Chesterton, Indiana, celebrated its 51st Homecoming this fall and decided to deviate from normal festivities. The homecoming theme was “CHS Gives Back,” and the week centered on raising money for charity.
The Student Council wanted to put their money and effort into something more meaningful than the usual homecoming floats this year. In lieu of constructing floats, each class built colorful, wooden playhouses and auctioned the structures on eBay. CHS donated the proceeds to various organizations and philanthropies. The sophomore class selected REEF as its beneficiary.
The Building Trades class constructed the playhouses from scratch in just 14 days. During homecoming week, the sophomores convened to paint the ocean themed playhouse, decorating the walls with fish, corals, a giant yellow submarine, and a friendly purple octopus. The winning eBay bidder, a local resident, purchased the playhouse for $460. REEF received one hundred percent of the proceeds.
Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck said the project was a huge success and the playhouses were widely received by the community. The student body came together and used their time and talents to construct long lasting works of art. Chesterton students and teachers created five playhouses, raising $2,875 in total for selected organizations. Zeck says the project is a new tradition, and the school will continue building and auctioning playhouses in the future.
Contributions from individuals and organizations like Chesterton High School help fuel the success of REEF programs. With donations, we can continue expanding our research, education, and outreach efforts. We can host more fish identification presentations, Fishinars, and lionfish handling workshops. We can continue researching invasive lionfish populations and monitoring endangered Nassau grouper spawning aggregations. We can engage more marine enthusiasts in conserving the oceans.
If you would like to contribute to REEF and marine conservation this holiday season, please visit www.REEF.org/contribute or call (305)852-0030. During our winter campaign, donors contributing $250 or more will receive a limited edition, signed print of a spectacular Nassau Grouper spawning aggregation photographed by Paul Humann. More information on REEF conservation programs is available at www.REEF.org.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), a non-profit, marine conservation organization, is seeking to hire a Communications and Affiliate Program Manager to develop and manage initiatives to increase participation in, and awareness of, REEF programs and services. REEF coordinates marine life education, field research, and one of the largest citizen science programs in the world. REEF programs engage with the public through unique partnerships with private, governmental, scientific, and educational sectors.
Position Description and Responsibilities
Duties will include education, outreach, and capacity building within the REEF Volunteer Survey Project, Invasive Lionfish Research Project, and other related REEF activities. The staff member will work collaboratively with other REEF staff and interns, and will be based at REEF HQ in Key Largo, FL. Priority tasks and duties will include, but may not be limited to:
· Increase local, national, and international awareness of REEF with a focus on dive and environmental media outlets by working with other staff, Board of Trustees, and REEF members to create and distribute informational releases on a frequent and timely basis. Develop a strong coalition of support among a broad spectrum of promotional outlets, including print, radio, and electronic media. Develop and maintain a press contacts database and relationships with key media personnel. Track and record media coverage and post to REEF.org.
· Work with the REEF Outreach Coordinator to support and expand the Field Station Program. Increase participation of current field stations and enlist new Field Stations. Strengthen relationships with TWA Field Stations, including frequent communication. Work with Field Stations to increase sales of REEF materials and donations, host workshops and surveys dives, and encourage participation in REEF-organized events such as fishinars and the GAFC.
· Assist in scheduling, planning, and implementation of fundraising/outreach events. Create campaigns to attract new members, as well as to increase donations and participation among existing members. Participate in REEF events and out-of-area consumer trade shows.
· Assist in the development of outreach and member correspondence, such as e-news and web content, as well as the development of PSAs, brochures, and other public relation materials. Develop and conduct presentations and demonstrations to members, Field Stations, educational institutions, and the public-at-large. Work with the REEF Outreach Coordinator and interns to coordinate existing outreach and training efforts, including the GAFC and fishinar series.
Bachelors or higher degree in biology, public affairs or related field. Proficiency with office computers and software. Excellent written and oral communication skills. Highly positive attitude and aptitude for working as a self starter in a face paced non-profit conservation organization. Strong interest in ocean life, marine conservation, and citizen science. Desire to make a difference. Ability to work in a diverse team and collaborate across multiple disciplines. Experienced diver is preferred but not required.
Position Term, Compensation, and Work Environment
The position will be based at REEF’s Key Largo, Florida, headquarters, a 1913 historic conch-style house converted into offices, a retail area, and classrooms Headquarters staff includes the General Manger, Director of Special Projects, Store Manager, interns and volunteers. Work environment is casual. Three additional staff – Director of Science, Membership Development Coordinator, and Outreach Coordinator – are located in Washington and California. The position will report to the General Manager.
How to apply
Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and brief writing sample (no more than three pages) to Martha Klitzkie, General Manager, at Martha@REEF.org. Applications will be considered starting October 29, 2012, and position will be open until filled.
REEF was founded in 1990 as a way to educate scuba divers and snorkelers in marine life identification and to utilize their marine life sightings. Patterned after the successful Audubon and Cornell birding programs, REEF has grown into a 40,000 plus member organization with programs in place throughout the western hemisphere. Primary among these programs is the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, enabling marine enthusiasts to conduct surveys and submit sightings data from throughout the Tropical Western Atlantic, coastal North America, Tropical Eastern Pacific, Hawaii, and South Pacific. Data are managed by REEF staff and made available to researchers, scientists, managers, and the public free of charge via REEF’s on-line database at www.REEF.org. To date more than 160,000 marine life surveys have been submitted.
In addition to the Survey Project, REEF maintains a large and active diver education program with standardized course materials for each of its survey regions. Strong partnerships within the diving industry and effective outreach provide opportunities for thousands of divers to learn about marine life and take part in surveying activities throughout the year. REEF manages the July-long Great Annual Fish Count; the Grouper Moon Project – researching grouper spawning aggregations; the Exotic Species Program – tracking the impact and control of non-native marine fish species, particularly the human-induced invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish into the Tropical West Atlantic; Special Projects – assessing fish population changes in and around marine reserves and on and around newly developed artificial reefs; printed and e-newsletter communications; and, several week-long field survey and data gathering expeditions. REEF maintains strong partnerships with federal, state, and local government agencies as well as other US based and international agencies, NGOs, and business entities.
REEF is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer
Release of Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management
We are excited to announce the release of Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management. This extensive manual was created to aid coastal managers and field workers in effectively managing the invasive lionfish problem. This best practices manual contains control strategies, outreach and education plans, research, monitoring, legal considerations, and ideas for acquiring resources and vital partnerships from around the region. Invasive lionfish are a major ecological disaster causing wide-reaching negative impacts throughout the western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. By utilizing examples provided in this guide, researchers and managers throughout the region will be well equipped to address the lionfish invasion.
This work would not have been possible without the support of NOAA, REEF, ICRI, the United Nations Environment Programme, Caribbean Environment Programme, SPAWRAC, and the 40+ participants of the 2010 Caribbean Regional Lionfish Workshop. This manual will be the first book in the new GCFI Special Publication Series. Authors include James Morris (NOAA), Dayne Buddo (University of the West Indies, Jamaica), Stephanie Green (Simon Frasier University), Ricardo Lozano (CONANP, Mexico), and Lad Akins (REEF).
For more information about lionfish, please visit www.REEF.org or call 305-852-0030.
Ned DeLoach will be presenting one of his popular fish behavior talks as part of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) free Fishinar series. Ned’s talk, Speed Dating Fishy Style: How Fish Spawn and When You’re Likely to Catch Them in the Act, will be live online on May 9th at 8pm EDT.
The presentation, which will highlight many of Ned’s unique fish behavior photographs, will be followed by a Q&A session.
REEF’s Fishinars (a.k.a. webinars) are open to divers, snorkelers and devout landlubbers alike. Anyone wanting to learn more about reef fish is welcome.
This is fishy fun in the comfort of your own home. A microphone or webcam is not needed in order to participate.
Although the Fishinars are free, participants must join REEF (membership is also free) to be able to register. Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation with details on how to log on. To register for Ned’s May 9th talk or for other fish webinars, visit http://www.reef.org/resources/webinars
About REEF: The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) was founded in 1990, out of growing concern about the health of the marine environment, and the desire to provide the SCUBA diving community a way to contribute to the understanding and protection of marine populations. REEF links the diving community with scientists, resource managers, and conservationists through marine life data collection and related activities. REEF maintains a no-fee membership that includes divers and non-divers alike, all with an interest in the marine environment. For more information, visit:
About Ned DeLoach: Co-author of nine marine life field guides, including Reef Fish Behavior: Florida Caribbean Bahamas and co-founder of REEF, Ned writes columns for Alert Diver, Scuba Diving and Sport Diver magazines. He presents his marine life behavior talks to audiences around the world at dive resorts, schools and public aquariums. For more information, visit: