News & Updates

Successful Corals In and Lionfish Out Event



More than $1,000.00 raised to support marine conservation in the Florida Keys


The Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) and Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) teamed up during the second week of September for “Corals In and Lionfish Out,” a series of events to engage and educate the public while raising funds for coral restoration and invasive lionfish removal efforts in the Florida Keys. 


Many members of the community attended REEF’s monthly “Fish and Friends” social on Sept. 9, which featured a presentation on invasive lionfish by Lad Akins, REEF Director of Special Projects and Elizabeth Underwood, REEF Lionfish Program Manager. On Sept. 10, Ken Nedimyer, the Founder and President of CRF, shared a lecture about the history and future of coral restoration in the Florida Keys and ways to become involved in the work. This seminar was followed by CRF’s Coral Plant-a-Thon on Sept. 11. During the one day Plant-a-Thon, 765 corals were planted by 11 divers in near-shore patch reefs in the Upper Keys. 


The week’s events concluded with the 5th Annual Key Largo Lionfish Derby at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Sept. 13. 15 teams of divers and snorkelers removed 573 lionfish from reefs in the Upper Keys. In addition to the 84 Derby participants, many other Florida Keys residents and visitors came to the Derby to sample lionfish ceviche, witness lionfish dissections and learn more about the lionfish invasion. In conjunction with the outstanding coral planting and lionfish removal efforts, more than $1,000 was raised to support CRF and REEF’s marine conservation programs. For more information about CRF and REEF, visit and 


Corals In & Lionfish Out










                                                                  CORALS IN AND LIONFISH OUT!  

          Coral Restoration Foundation and REEF Pair Up to Restore the Native and Remove the Invasive


Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) and Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), are working together to raise awareness about coral reef conservation in the Florida Keys. For the first time ever, the marine conservation groups will host a special event, “Coral In and Lionfish Out,” to engage the public and raise funds for coral restoration and lionfish removal efforts in the Florida Keys.


THE MISSION - Within the past three decades the Florida Keys barrier reef system has experienced a great loss of biodiversity. This loss of biodiversity includes the population decline of staghorn and elkhorn corals- two important reef building species- and the introduction of the invasive lionfish- a fish that feeds heavily on native reef fish with no natural predators. CRF and REEF are dedicated nonprofit organizations that have been working to conserve and restore our coral reefs back to their previous state.  With great progress over the years, CRF and REEF are excited to team up with the public this September. 


HOW YOU CAN HELP – You can support this exciting week of events by attending free presentations, participating in the REEF lionfish derby, or pledging your support to CRF and REEF for the combined number of corals planted and lionfish removed during the event. You can pledge any amount from one penny up. For example, let’s say 500 lionfish are removed and 500 corals are planted, if you pledged a nickel, your total donation amount would be $50. All donations are tax deductible and proceeds will fund the marine conservation programs of CRF and REEF.  Events begin September 10th, mark your calendars and make your pledge today!  For more complete details on all of the events or to make your pledge visit



Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit conservation organization headquartered in Key Largo, Florida created to develop offshore coral nurseries and restoration strategies for critically endangered coral reefs at local, national, and international levels.  To learn more about the restoration efforts of CRF, visit


Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) is a grass-roots organization that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting, and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active ocean stewards and citizen scientists. The Invasive Lionfish Research program aims to educate and enlist the public in the removal of this invasive species. To learn more about REEF and their conservation programs, visit


Jessica Levy    (305) 453-7030

Martha Klitzkie          (305) 852-0030

Third Annual Teeples Memorial Fort Lauderdale Lionfish Derby Breaks Records


At the break of dawn on July 19th, 56 ardent lionfish hunters set out to compete in the Third Annual Teeples Memorial Fort Lauderdale Lionfish Derby. The weather conditions were ideal, helping to make this derby one of the best yet. Vying for more than $3,500 in cash prizes, 14 participating teams brought in 557 lionfish to the 15th Street Fisheries dock during this sunrise to 5:00 pm event. This year’s catch broke the record for this tournament by a substantial 138 lionfish. Team Spearfishin’ Critical took 1st place for most lionfish with an impressive 140 lionfish. Team GOLET finished 2nd with 72 lionfish and Zen Killers 3rd with 62 fish. Awards were also given for 1st through 3rd place for the largest and smallest lionfish caught. Team Pain Killer brought in the largest fish, measuring in at a whopping 430 mm, as well as the smallest fish (135 mm).  Team Sea Experience and Spearfishin’ Critical took 2nd and 3rd place for largest fish with 420 mm and 416 mm fish respectively. All three of these largest fish broke the old 2012 tournament record of 411 mm.  The annual derby is hosted in honor of the late Billy Teeples, a passionate diver and angler committed to marine conservation.

The winning team, Spearfishin Critical, with derby organizers Kelly Teeples, Lad Akins, and Elizabeth Underwood. Photo Credit: Olando Harvey


This year’s derby was made possible through major sponsorship by 15th Street Fisheries, JLPN, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Zookeeper, Diver’s Direct, and Norman’s Cay restaurant as well as numerous local business and public donations. Delicious samples of lionfish ceviche were given out to the public.

Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, are an invasive species in the Tropical Western Atlantic and are causing significant negative impacts to native marine life throughout the region.  According to Dr. Stephanie Green, Oregon State University researcher, some sites in the Bahamas have seen 65-95% declines in native fish in a two year period.  Impacts to valuable food fish like grouper and snapper could cause damage to the economy and ecology of countries in the invaded range.  Regular removals and removal events are showing promise however, in reducing local lionfish populations and sizes.  Using scientific models, it is estimated that the 557 lionfish caught in this year’s Teeples Memorial Derby would have consumed between 1.3 million and 5.8 million prey fish in the following year had they not been removed.

Lionfish Derbies are very effective at removing large numbers of these invasive fish in a single day. Photo credit: Olando Harvey



For complete derby results and information on additional lionfish derbies throughout the region, visit

Last Chance to Join REEFs Annual Lionfish Control Study in Curaçao

REEF, in Partnership with GO WEST Diving, Kura Hulanda Lodge, Curacao Tourism Board and Insel Air Announces Remaining Space on the 2nd Annual Curacao Invasive Lionfish Control Study!

Join us for the second annual project to Curacao to document the establishment and consequences of invasive lionfish as part of REEF's ongoing effort to minimize the Indo-Pacific predator's impact on native fish populations. Participants will have an opportunity to be trained in lionfish collection and dissections of specimens to document prey. This unique research trip is led by REEF’s Director of Special Projects, Lad Akins and dive industry legend, Peter Hughes.

During the 1st Annual Curacao Invasive Lionfish Control Study in 2013, the research team removed a total of 673 lionfish during 10 dives. Based on published consumption models and fish sizes collected, it is estimated that these fish would have consumed between approximately 1.24-5.27 million fish within the next 12 months. Even the smallest fish collected would have consumed between approximately 300-460 fish in the next year. Join this REEF Field Survey Trip and take a dive vacation that counts!

Trip Details:
Curacao: Lionfish Control Study with GO WEST Diving and Kura Hulanda Lodge
Saturday, August 16 – Saturday, August 23, 2014
Led by Lad Akins, REEF Director of Special Projects, and Peter Hughes

1 Spaces Left

$1,726 per person double occupancy ($2,146 single occupancy) includes: lodging for 7 nights at the Kura Hulanda Lodge, breakfast each morning, 5 days of 2-tank boat dives, roundtrip airport transportation on Curacao, ground transportation, and all taxes.

+$200 REEF Program Fee per diver will be added to each package to cover the cost of the group leaders, seminars and survey materials.

This trip is booked through REEF Headquarters. To reserve your space or find out more, contact Martha Klitzkie,, 305-852-0030. All proceeds will benefit REEF's Lionfish Control Studies.

Sixth Annual Green Turtle Cay Lionfish Derby a Huge Success: Numbers and Sizes Both Down!


For the sixth year in a row, avid lionfish hunters on Green Turtle Cay set out at the crack of dawn on June 28th to participate in the world’s longest running lionfish derby. Conditions on the water could not have been better as the teams removed invasive lionfish from the Sea of Abaco on June 28th. Vying for more than $7,000 in cash prizes, 17 participating teams brought in 908 lionfish to the Green Turtle Club during the sunrise until 4:30 pm event. Numbers of lionfish caught and the sizes of fish landed were both down from last year. Team White Roach took 1st place for most lionfish with an impressive 329 lionfish. Team Lil’ Big Fish finished 2nd with a total of 178 lionfish and The Bolo Boys 3rd place with 142 fish. Awards were also given in first through third places for top foreign boat (Starlight, Rum Punch and Team Zissou) as well as first through third for largest and smallest fish caught.  Top female angler in this year’s derby was Palm Beach Gardens resident Peggy Rafferty. The derby was made possible by sponsorship through the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Green Turtle Club, Brendal’s Dive Center and Schooner Bay, as well as the many generous individual donations from Palm Beach County, US and Bahamian businesses and residents. Delicious samples of lionfish fried bites, lionfish ceviche, and an Asian lionfish dish were served to derby participants and spectators. Derby entrants were also treated to the bonus of free Goombay Smash and ice cold Kaliks donated by Brendal’s Dive Center and Tipsy Turtles donated by the Green Turtle Club.  


                      REEF's Lad Akins measures the lionfish that were caught in the derby. Photo Credit: Ellie Splain



Team White Roach and co-founder of the Green Turtle Cay Derby, Bobbie Lindsay, with the Chris Burdette Trophy for the largest lionfish caught. Photo Credit: Ellie Splain


Lionfish, native to the Indo-Pacific region, are an invasive species in the Bahamas and western Atlantic and are causing significant negative impacts to native marine life throughout the region.  According to Dr. Stephanie Green, Oregon State University researcher, some sites in the Bahamas have seen 65-95% declines in native fish in a two year period.  Impacts to valuable food fish like grouper and snapper could cause damage to the economy and ecology of countries in the invaded range.  Regular removals and removal events are showing promise however, in reducing local lionfish populations and sizes.  The Green Turtle Lionfish Derby is one of the few derbies that also combines research with removals and data on sizes of fish landed during the derby were recorded by teams of researchers and volunteers from the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). The average size of lionfish caught in this year’s derby was significantly smaller than last year’s derby (194.3 mm in 2013 and 163.1 in 2014), indicating the success of the derby event in reducing local lionfish populations.  Using scientific models, it is estimated that the 908 lionfish caught in this year’s Green Turtle Cay derby would have consumed between 709,000 and 2.2 million prey fish in the following year. A number of fish were also tagged prior to the event and special awards were given to teams that captured tagged fish.  Data from the derby are shared with the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) who grants a single day exemption for the use of compressed air during the derby.  The DMR encourages divers to remove any lionfish they encounter while obeying Bahamian laws and regulations. 


Prizes were given for the smallest live lionfish caught (51 mm in this year's derby). Photo Credit: Ellie Splain


For complete derby results and information on additional Bahamian and international derbies, visit

REEF 2014 Summer Lionfish Derby Series Dates Released


In the summer of 2014, recreational divers in Florida and the Bahamas will once again assemble teams, scout out hundreds of sites, sharpen their spears, ready their nets, and hone their collecting skills to prepare for yet another REEF summer lionfish derby series. Their mission: remove lionfish. Their reward: more than $3,500 in cash prizes for bringing in lionfish and the knowledge that they are helping to save native fish populations.

Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo-Pacific that threaten Florida’s marine ecosystems by devouring more than seventy species of native fish and invertebrates. Defended from predators by 18 venomous spines, lionfish rule the reefs and reproduce as often as every four days, year round. Though lionfish may seem unstoppable, divers can significantly reduce local populations and allow native fish populations to recover. Lionfish derbies are single day removal events that serve to educate the public, train divers in removal techniques, provide samples for researchers, encourage market development and remove thousands of lionfish.


Although lionfish have no controlling predators in the invaded range, diver removals are an effective method of reducing lionfish populations. ©REEF


Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) has set the following dates for their 2014 derby series:

  •  June 28th—Sixth Annual Green Turtle Cay Derby on Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
  •  July 19th—Third Annual Teeples Memorial Derby in Fort Lauderdale, FL
  •  August 16th—Fourth Annual Palm Beach County Derby
  •  September 13th—Fifth Annual Key Largo Derby

Additional “Sanctioned Derbies” will take place throughout the year in various locations.

Current derby sponsors for this year’s series include Green Turtle Club, 15th Street Fisheries, Sailfish Marina, the Florida Park Service, Brendal’s Dive Center, Ocean Reef Conservation Association, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Michelle Nicole Lowe Art, Divers Direct and Zookeeper.

Hopes are high for the summer derby series, as divers removed 2,790 lionfish in these single day events in 2013. All are invited to compete and to participate in the derby festivities. Mandatory Captain’s meetings will be held the day before the derby. On derby day, spectators are encouraged to attend and taste free lionfish samples. Registration and further information are at


Derbies are capable of removing thousands of invasive lionfish in a single day.  



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. For more info visit

Florida becomes first state to propose ban on importation of lionfish


Last week, representatives from the Florida House and Senate took the first steps in banning the importation or aquaculture of invasive lionfish.  Representative Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and Senator Greg Evers (R- Pensacola) have filed HB 1069 and SB 1336 to address the devastation being caused by lionfish in Florida’s coastal waters. The bills will prohibit importation, aquaculture and sale of illegally imported lionfish and they authorized FWC to adopt a rule to that effect. By stopping importation into Florida, it is anticipated that current demand for lionfish will be supplied by removal of invasive lionfish rather than increased importation from their native range. These bills, developed in close consultation with REEF and the FWC, mark one of the first legislative efforts to combat the invaders and comes on the heels of the first ever FWC Lionfish Summit. Comments and suggestions can be directed to Representative Holly Raschein’s office (phone: 850-717-5120).  The bill will be considered by the Legislature during the 2014 session, which runs March 4th-May 2nd. For more information on the bills visit or

BARE Makes In-Kind Donation to Reef Environmental Education Foundation


BARE Makes In-Kind Donation to REEF

REEF Marine Conservation Interns Catie and Colin sporting their new BARE wetsuits in the field while collecting lionfish data.REEF Marine Conservation Interns Catie and Colin sporting their new BARE wetsuits in the field while collecting lionfish data.

Divers at the marine conservation organization Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) are warm and toasty thanks to a generous donation of wetsuits from BARE. The company donated several dozen wetsuits to REEF to support the volunteer divers who collect marine science data, lead education and outreach programs, and protect oceans.

“We’re thrilled to receive these donations,” said Martha Klitzkie, general manager at REEF. “As you can imagine, ocean field research equipment can be very costly. BARE’s donation helps our volunteers stay active and benefits our marine conservation programs tremendously.”

The BARE wetsuits came flooding into REEF Headquarters right after the Thanksgiving holiday. REEF Communications Manager Keri Kenning said they were able to give the wetsuits to REEF’s volunteer divers as a thank you for all of their hard work. “There couldn’t have been better timing. With water temperatures dropping, lots of work to be done, and lots of people to thank, we were very grateful for the donations from BARE.”

Many of the wetsuits will be used by a cadre of scientists during REEF’s Grouper Moon Project in January in Little Cayman. During winter full moons, Nassau Grouper travel great distances to reproduce at spawning aggregation sites throughout the Caribbean. Unfortunately, fishing pressure has caused one-third to one-half of these aggregations to become inactive. The west end of Little Cayman is home to one of the last great reproductive populations of this iconic and endangered species. Scientists from REEF and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment will monitor this aggregation site and the thousands of Nassau Grouper that congregate to spawn.

REEF Volunteer and Pennekamp Park Ranger Liz surveys lionfish sites in her new BARE wetsuit.REEF Volunteer and Pennekamp Park Ranger Liz surveys lionfish sites in her new BARE wetsuit.

Expert fish surveyors will also use the wetsuits in conjunction with REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project. These volunteer divers collect baseline data on marine fish and invertebrate populations that is used by researchers and policy makers to better understand and protect marine ecosystems. Members of the REEF Advanced Assessment Team monitor National Marine Sanctuaries, National Parks, and artificial reefs. The data is used to protect endangered species, track invasive species, and set fishing limits for commercially important species.

Scientists and volunteers associated with REEF’s Invasive Lionfish Program will also benefit from the wetsuits. Working in the Tropical Western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, REEF and partners lead the charge in addressing the lionfish invasion. These divers conduct both research and removals to better understand the lionfish invasion and to create effective management plans.

Reef Environmental Education Founation is a grass-roots, non-profit organzation that seeks to conserve marine ecosystems by educating, enlisting and enabling divers and other marine enthusiasts to become active Ocean stewards and citizen scientists. REEF's programs include the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, a citizen science fish monitoring program, as well as two marine conservation research programs, the Grouper Moon Project and the Invasive Lionfish Research Program.

REEF member Martha surveys in Bonaire in her new and toasty BARE wetsuit.REEF member Martha surveys in Bonaire in her new and toasty BARE wetsuit.

Now Hiring: REEF Trips Program and Communications Manager


REEF Trips Program and Communications Manager

Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), a non-profit, marine conservation organization, is seeking to hire a REEF Trips Program and Communications Manager to manage its Field Survey Trip Program, as well as develop initiatives to increase participation in, and awareness of, the broad suite 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. The REEF Trips Program features a full schedule of eco-dive trips led by marine life experts each year that support REEF’s mission to engage and educate divers and snorkelers in citizen science activities.

Position Description and Responsibilities

Duties will include coordinating the REEF Field Survey Trip Program, including booking packages to 10-15 destinations each year for the REEF Trips program, and handing all correspondence and bookings for these trips. A comprehensive marketing plan will be developed to promote and increase participation in the trips. In addition, the successful candidate will assist with broader communication, outreach, and capacity building efforts to support REEF’s Volunteer Survey 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:

• Organize, plan, promote, and sell REEF Field Survey trips. This includes researching destinations, contacting potential vendors (dive operators, lodging properties, live-aboard vessels), obtaining price quotes, building packages, developing trip descriptions and flyers, overseeing promotion of the trips, fielding questions from potential trip participants, and handing bookings.

• Develop strong knowledge of REEF programs and Field Survey Trip destinations in order to create an exciting and marketable trip schedule.

• Create a comprehensive REEF Trips marketing plan that will effectively promote the program and increase participation through time.

• Maintain accurate financial management of all client reservations and vendor contracts. Maintain accurate and complete records and forms for client and vendor communications and finances.

• Support the trip leaders in advance of each trip, coordinating communication with trip participants, and facilitating the leaders’ needs at the trip destination.

• Participate in REEF events and out-of-area consumer trade shows.

In addition to the primary tasks that fall under the Trip Program Manager responsibilities, the successful candidate will assist with REEF’s broader communication, outreach, and capacity building efforts, including:

• Increase local, national, and international awareness of REEF, with a focus on dive and environmental media outlets by working with REEF staff 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.

• Assist in the development of outreach and member correspondence, such as e-news, web content, and social media as well as the development of PSAs, brochures, and other public relation materials.


Bachelors or higher degree in relevant field, or equivalent work experience in travel, communications, and/or public relations. Proficiency with desktop computers and office software, as well as excellent written and oral communication skills are required. The successful candidate will be detail-oriented, with strong organizational skills and ability to work independently in a fast-paced, non-profit organization. Strong interest in ocean life, marine conservation, and citizen science a plus. Ability to work in a diverse and collaborate team across multiple disciplines. Experienced SCUBA diver is preferred but not required.

Position Term, Compensation, and Work Environment

This is a full time, permanent position. Starting salary $27,000-$30,000, depending on experience. Benefits include contribution towards health insurance, accrued paid time off (PTO), option for flex-time work weeks, and 7 holiday days per year. U.S. and international travel may be required, as well as some weekend, holiday, and after hours work.

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, Lionfish Program Coordinator, 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 Review of applications will begin starting January 30, 2014, and position will remain open until filled. Anticipated start date will be mid-February.

Organization Background

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (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 To date more than 175,000 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

Bringing the Nassau Grouper into Cayman Classrooms


On December 3rd and 5th, Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment (DOE) held free educator workshops on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac. The professional development workshops presented the Grouper Education Program, a marine sciences curriculum for intermediate/elementary  (Year 4 & 5) and high school (Year 12 & 13) students.  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 elementary and high school classrooms through lesson plans and interactive live-feed video sessions that connect classrooms with scientists in the field. 

Mr. Bradley Johnson, from Cayman Islands Department of Environment, presenting information to educators during the Grouper Education Workshop on Cayman Brac.

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. These video discussions are supplemented with footage of solitary Nassau Grouper on their home reef, and the 4,000+ mass aggregation of Nassau Grouper that gather on the west end of Little Cayman during winter full moons. While the bulk of the lessons take place over the course of the two weeks in January and February, when REEF and DOE scientists are working at the spawning site, the curriculum includes a set of pre-activities to help build background knowledge as well as follow-up lessons to help deepen the students’ learning experience. 

The 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.

During the hands-on workshop, educators were provided copies of the Grouper Education Project curriculum and associated teaching materials. They also learned:

  • How to effectively implement the Grouper Education Program in elementary and high school classrooms.
  • Working knowledge of key historical, scientific, and conservation concepts about Nassau Grouper.

The Grouper Education Program is a component of the Grouper Moon Project, and 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.

Educators from 7 Grand Cayman schools and 2 schools in the Bahamas participated in the Grouper Education Program workshop sponsored by the Grouper Moon Project. A second workshop was held on Cayman Brac that was attended by educators from 3 local schools.


Bradley Johnson, Cayman Islands Dept. of Environment,
Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., REEF,

Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub