REEF's Experience Levels

REEF fish survey data are separated into two categories based on experience level- Novice and Expert. These experience levels are determined by number of surveys completed and examination scores. REEF has 5 levels of experience for fishwatchers. Each of REEF's regions has its own levels (i.e. TWA Level 4 are only experts in the TWA, not all regions). Members must have the required number of surveys from the particular region.

Levels 1, 2, and 3 are Novice

Level 1

All new REEF members.

Level 2 - Beginning Surveyor

Requires an 80% on the Most Common Fishes Quiz and the completion of two surveys. CAL, PNW, SAS and NE surveyors can choose between a Fish quiz or an Invertebrate quiz. There are 20-25 questions on this quiz. Most members taking the Project Aware Specialty or other Introduction to Fishwatching course will attain this level.

Level 3 - Advanced Surveyor

Achieved by passing the Common Fishes Quiz with 80% and conducting 25 surveys. There are 100 questions on the test. (CAL, PNW, SAS and NE includes both fish and invertebrates). Most members participating in a REEF Field Survey project will reach this level. This is the highest level of experience still classified in the Novice data category.

Levels 4 and 5 are Expert

Level 4

Acquired by passing the Advanced Fishes Quiz with 90% and conducting 35 surveys. (CAL, PNW, SAS and NE includes both fish and invertebrates).

Level 5

Acquired by passing the 100 Advanced Fishes Quiz with 95% and conducting 50 surveys.


Members that achieve Expert status (Levels 4 and 5) are extended an invitation to REEF's Advanced Assessment Team (AAT). As a member of REEF's AAT, you will be invited to participate in special regional monitoring and assessment projects.


REEF staff can administer all of these quizzes on a REEF Field Survey, in a live GoToMeeting online session, or at the REEF offices in Key Largo. Additionally, quizzes for levels 2 and 3 can be administered by dive stores, Instructors or Divemasters by contacting REEF. A special form that accompanies the quiz will be filled out by the student and instructor and returned to REEF to upgrade experience level. Surveyors must have the minimum number of surveys from the region already in the database prior to taking the test.

To request the Level 3 or 4/5 test, contact REEF Headquarters.

Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub