Our Clasroom Explorers Curricula pulls from REEF's core program areas:
Volunteer Fish Survey Project
Started in 1993, the Volunteer Fish Survey Project enables and enlists volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations as well as sea turtles and select invertebrate and algae species. With over 250,000 surveys, it has grown to become one of the most effective and powerful ocean citizen science programs, and has generated the world’s largest database on marine fishes. The data are used to better understand and protect ocean ecosystems worldwide.
Our approach lets groups and individuals interact with marine life in a whole new way. Suddenly participants realize when a species encountered is a great find, and those that are the usual suspects. Participants become citizen scientists, explorers and volunteers who make a difference in a meaningful way.
Classroom Explorer program options range from hour long workshops introducing the most common fish species in Florida and Caribbean waters to a full or multiple day programs that give participants the opportunity to hone their fish identification skills and advance to a REEF Level Two Surveyor. Groups can add glass-bottom boat tours, snorkels, or SCUBA dives in Florida Keys reefs to their program itinerary. Land-based surveys and fish behavior presentations are available for groups who will not be adding an in-water component.
College-aged groups may also be interested in our Fish Field Methodology Class.
Invasive Lionfish Research Program
Non-native marine fishes can pose a major threat to marine fisheries, habitats, and eco-systems. REEF is at the forefront of monitoring two species of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish that have become established throughout the western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico since their introduction in the early 1980s. Lionfish can spawn up to 2 million eggs per year, have no known predators in their invaded range, outgrow native fish competitors, and have decimated marine ecosystems with their voracious appetites.
Our approach started in 2006 when REEF began working in close partnership with government agencies and partners throughout the region to help develop lionfish response plans. This included training resource managers and SCUBA dive operators in effective collecting and handling techniques and conducting cutting edge research. To aid in this effort, REEF encourages SCUBA divers and snorkelers to join organized lionfish research and removal projects to help address the invasion. Participants are involved through hands-on control efforts, scientific research, and Invasive Lionfish education and outreach.
Classroom Explorer program options include seminars on invasive species, lionfish dissection demonstrations, fun, interactive predator/prey games demonstrating the impact of lionfish, and lionfish collecting and handling workshops. Program options are tailored to the group’s experience level. Lionfish collection SCUBA dives, or snorkels may also be available, and are recommended for advanced dive/snorkel groups.
Florida Keys Marine Ecology
South Florida boasts a wide variety of diverse and ecologically important habitats encompassing an extensive range of plant and animal species. Mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and coral reefs shape the core components of Florida coastlines.
Our approach takes you outdoors to enhance hands-on learning of marine science from small algae to large marine mammals. REEF’s marine ecology program explores marine organisms and their ecosystems. Learn about the biology and ecology of marine plants and animals inhabiting oceans, seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs, and other marine environments. The program highlights the many facets of these diverse ecosystems and explores how individuals can impact the conservation of these unique habitats.
Classroom Explorer program options include guided kayak excursions, tours in Everglades National Park, swimming with dolphins, exploring John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, interactive presentations, and experiencing survey methods commonly used in the marine science field.