Make a difference in marine conservation -
join in REEF's Great Annual Fish Count!

The Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) is a fun way to learn about local oceans. Every July, divers and snorkelers across the world join to learn about marine diversity and conduct fish surveys as a part of REEF's ongoing Volunteer Fish Survey Project.

The GAFC is only a catalyst to introduce divers/snorkelers and the general public to volunteer fish monitoring. Data are needed year-round, not just during the month of July. Click here to learn more about REEF and the ongoing Volunteer Fish Survey Project.

Join in the fun:

  •     As an individual, joining an already established event near you
  •     As a group, setting up your own event
  •     Team-teach a fish ID class - it's more fun with a friend!
  •     Turn your event into a potluck party or BBQ for added fun
  •     Try holding a raffle or auction, donating the proceeds to REEF's marine conservation programs

Can I only conduct fish surveys during July?

No. While the GAFC is a great time to get new divers involved in fish counting and to raise the public's awareness of the marine environment and volunteer activities, we need data year round. Survey and training materials are available from REEF.

What happens to the data that volunteers collect?

Once survey information is submitted online to REEF, the data are processed via REEF's standardized data management and quality control protocols and then are uploaded into a centralized database that is available on REEF's website. In addition to use by the general and diving public, the data are available to scientists and resource managers.

Participate in the Great Annual Fish Count

6 Great Reasons to Participate in the GAFC:

  •     Find something more to do on your dives than just looking at pretty fish.
  •     Make a difference and become a citizen scientist
  •     Learn to identify and document fish diversity
  •     Raise awareness about marine habitats and trends in fish populations
  •     Provide valuable data to researchers as they monitor ocean changes
  •     Try your hand at doing a REEF fish survey

Who can participate in the GAFC?

Anyone can join in the fun, whether you're a diver or a snorkeler.

How do I participate in the GAFC?

Check out the calendar of this year's scheduled events. Join in a free fish ID class near you, then hop in the water (it's even better with friends!) and conduct a survey of the fish you see.

Don't see an event scheduled near you?

Ask your dive club or shop if you can help organize one, or create your own, big or small.

How to get in on the GAFC fun

  • First, join REEF (membership is free!)
  • Conduct fish surveys and join leagues of citizen scientists around the world.

Do I have to be an expert to help?

No. The GAFC and the year-round Volunteer Fish Survey Project by REEF uses an easy to learn, fun survey method. Basic fish identification skills are all that are needed. Attending a fish ID class or listening to some of our online Fishinars will give you a great start, and you'll get even better as you do more.

View our current online Fishinars as well as access our past Fishinars, and start learning how to identify fish in your area!

Organize an Event for the Great Annual Fish Count

Register Your GAFC Event

Who can Organize a GAFC event? (hint: Anybody!)

If you are a dive shop, dive club, non-profit organization, aquarium, university, interested individual - anybody! - you can help contribute to marine conservation in a meaningful way by helping to put on GAFC events. These can include fish ID classes, survey dives, social events, and more.

So, let's get started!

1. Organize a Fish Identification class or seminar

Fish identification seminars for the GAFC can be conducted anytime in June or July and are fun and easy to teach using REEF's teaching modules. These curricula enable anyone to teach identification of a region's most common species - you don't have to be an expert to teach this class!

As part of the GAFC tradition, we ask that all seminars held as part of the event are free and open to anyone interested in learning more about fish.

2. Organize a Fish Count Survey Dive

A primary goal of the GAFC is to get more volunteers into the water conducting fish surveys. You can help by organizing a GAFC dive.

After taking a fishwatching course, divers and snorkelers are encouraged to conduct a fish survey on a GAFC scheduled event, or simply on their next dive.

Survey dives can be held anytime in the month of July. Pick a date and a location to conduct your dive. Let seminar participants know where you will be diving and how they can sign up for the dive if required.

Don't forget to register your GAFC event!

Register Your GAFC Event

It is OK to expect participants to pay the costs of using a dive charter, or a required park entry fee for example.

Surveys can be conducted in any of REEF's project regions, shown below.

3. Make it fun!

Turn your fish ID class into a potluck dinner, or your survey dives into a BBQ party. Have a raffle, or a silent auction, and donate the proceeds toward's REEF's marine conservation programs. Give out prizes to participants who turn in surveys.

4. What you'll need:

Fish or Invertebrate ID Curriculum (instructor teaching module)

Starter Kits for participants (includes survey slates, underwater paper, laminated color ID cards)

Register Your GAFC Event