There is less than a month left in our annual summer fundraising campaign, and that means there is less than a month left to have your donation matched! Thanks to the generosity of three longtime supporters, all donations made this summer will be matched dollar for dollar up to $70,000! We are so thankful to everyone who has already contributed to our summer fundraising campaign, enabling us to continue our marine conservation work. If you have not yet made a donation, please consider doing so today by visiting www.REEF.org/donate, calling our office at (305) 852-0030, or mailing your donation to us at PO Box 370246, Key Largo, FL, 33037.
Every contribution, no matter how big or small, makes a difference, and we couldn't accomplish our work without you! From all of us at REEF, thank you for your support this summer!
We hope you can join us in Key Largo for REEF Fest 2019 sponsored by Capital Bank Foundation, on Oct. 17-20! REEF Fest is an annual four-day celebration to acknowledge the success of marine conservation and education initiatives in the Florida Keys. Events include educational ocean-themed seminars, social gatherings, diving, and eco-adventures alongside some of the most prestigious names in diving and marine conservation. All REEF Fest events are open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. You can view the schedule of event for REEF Fest here: www.REEF.org/REEFfest/schedule.
Diving and snorkeling trips are offered on the mornings of Oct. 18 and 19 with our REEF Fest dive partners: Amy Slate's Amoray Dive Resort, Quiescence Diving Services, Key Dives, and Horizon Divers. Space is limited, so make your reservations as soon as possible. There's no need to call a dive shop to book your space - you can register for REEF Fest diving online at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/diving.
In addition to our REEF Fest fish survey dive charters, on the morning of Oct. 19, we are offering a special lionfish hunting charter for 4 divers, generously sponsored by Forever Young Charter Company in Islamorada. Space is limited on this unique dive trip. If interested, visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/diving/lionfish for more information.
Don’t forget to purchase your ticket to 'For the Love of the Sea' Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 19. Visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/dinnerticket to purchase your ticket today. You can also view the other REEF Fest social events here: www.REEF.org/REEFfest/social.
We are especially excited about this year's lineup of seminar speakers, listed below. View all the details of our ocean-themed REEF Fest seminar series at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/seminars.
Thursday, Oct. 17, 7:30 pm: “The Future for Sea Turtles on a Warming Planet" presented by Selina Heppell, Ph.D., Professor, Oregon State University
Friday, Oct. 18, 2:30 pm: "Fishwatchers’ Notebook: Stories and images of great finds and fun adventures” presented by Jeff Haines and Carol Cox
3:30 pm: “The Power of Marine Citizen Science” presented by Ben Holt, Ph.D., Director of the Rock Pool Project
4:30 pm: “Reef Fish Behavior, 2nd Edition: Twenty joy-filled years in the making” presented by Ned and Anna DeLoach, REEF Trustees, Co-founders, and Renowned Underwater Photographer and Videographer
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2:30 pm: “Blooms of Blue-green Algae in South Florida: Ecological causes and human health consequences” presented by Larry Brand, Ph.D., Professor, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
3:30 pm: “Lionfish and Nassau Grouper: A tale of two fish and how stakeholder collaboration leads to conservation success” presented by Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., and Alli Candelmo, Ph.D., REEF Director of Science and REEF Invasive Species Program Manager
4:30 pm: “Marine Heatwaves: What 5,000 citizen scientists can tell us about 85,000 beached birds” presented by Julia Parrish, Ph.D., Professor, University of Washington and Executive Director of COASST
We hope to see you this October in Key Largo! If you have any questions, email events@REEF.org.
REEF members are the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. A diverse community of divers, snorkelers, and ocean enthusiasts support our mission to conserve marine environments worldwide.
This month we highlight Kara Curry, a REEF member who lives in Washington. She joined REEF in 2016, and has quickly become an extremely active surveyor - she has submitted more than 370 surveys to date! Kara and her husband Chuck (also a REEF member and surveyor) love to dive, freedive, and travel. They frequently attend REEF Field Survey Trips, including the inaugural trip to the Maldives in January 2019. We're so glad to call Kara part of the REEF family!
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
I first heard about REEF in 2016 when I was on a dive trip in Cuba. I was with a dive club that was sharing a dive boat with the REEF Expedition group. The REEF volunteers were excited and having fun. They came up from their dives enthusiastically talking about the fish they saw, fish they were unable to identify, the key identifying marks for particular fish, etc. I also found the REEF volunteers very friendly, interesting, and willing to share their knowledge. It made me curious about fish watching, but I didn’t think I would be very good at it. Those REEF folks knew their fish! Nonetheless, with a little encouragement and a lot of help from an avid fish watcher and REEF volunteer (now my husband), the following year I became a REEF member and completed my first survey. To my surprise, I really loved fish watching and have been an active surveyor since 2017. It’s a lot of fun!
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
What I enjoy about surveying is that it has changed my dive experiences for the better. I am far more observant underwater. I am more attuned to the details of fish appearance, their behavior, habitat, water conditions and changes in all of these with the time of day. When I first started doing surveys I thought I needed to know a lot of the fish first. What I have found is that surveying helps me learn the fish better.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
Just recently my husband and I were surveying while snorkeling and freediving in Hawaii. We were approached by three Reef Manta Ray in only about 40’ of water. They came in really close as if to get a better look at us! I have seen mantas before while on scuba but never observed this kind of behavior. Perhaps because we were not on scuba they did not seem threatened by us. Whatever the reason, it was an incredible experience!
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
I can’t say that I have a favorite fish, but I do have a favorite family. I love the Jacks (Carangidae)! I think they are so cool looking. They are big and silvery and often swim in large schools. They are so powerful. Whether it’s open water swimming, freediving, or scuba diving, I love swimming with them.
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
As a relatively new surveyor I’d encourage new fishwatchers not to be intimidated by what they don’t know. I sure was and there was no need to be. Study a few common fish or one family at a time, and don’t get frustrated. To me it’s kind of like treasure hunting! You go down and see what you can find. There are always surprises.
We are excited to welcome Allison Moran to the REEF team! Allison started in July 2019 and is based at REEF Headquarters as Operations Manager. Her primary roles at REEF will involve supporting critical project and facility management and day-to-day business functions such as maintaining financial records and overseeing REEF's online and physical store. She will also assist with education and outreach programs and events. Read on to learn more about Allison, and you can read the bios of all of our staff on our Staff Bio page. Our staff, together with our amazing volunteers and supporters, ensure that our critical marine conservation work can happen.
Allison Moran grew up in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, along the Jersey Shore, and spent summers on the Gulf coast of Florida. She attended Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, Florida, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies. After graduating, Allison worked as a Nature Preserve Ranger at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in Saint Petersburg with a focus in environmental education. Following this, she worked with Sarasota County’s Environmental Protection Division as an Environmental Specialist II, where she worked to minimize impacts to marine resources by reviewing marine construction plans and had opportunities to assist with the Marine Turtle Protection Program by tagging nesting adult female sea turtles. Her passion for marine conservation brought her to REEF, where she is excited to work towards REEF’s mission for many years to come.
Welcome to the REEF team, Allison!
Thank you to all the REEF members who submitted such amazing photos to our underwater photography contest! We received many excellent submissions from all over the world, representing many of our survey regions. Public voting is now open! You can vote for your favorite image in each of the six categories here. Voting will end at 11:59pm EST on August 12. The winning photos and photographers will be featured in REEF’s July 2020 - December 2021 calendar. Please encourage your friends and family to vote. We look forward to sharing the results of the contest!
Each spring, REEF hosts REEF by the Sea, held the first full weekend in March (alternating between San Diego and South Florida). These events feature seminars and program updates, silent auctions, opportunities for diving, and a chance to mingle with REEF staff, other REEF partners and friends, and our Board of Trustees. Sustainers will be invited to REEF by the Sea in California on March 6-8, 2020, to enjoy food, drinks, special presentations by scientists and prominent figures in marine science, and networking with other REEF members.
Donors who give $1,000 or more in a year become part of REEF's Sustainers Club. Sustainers receive early notice of REEF Field Survey Trips and invitations to special events like REEF by the Sea. Sustainers also receive special perks at the annual REEF Fest event in Key Largo, Florida. This four-day celebration takes place every fall and includes diving, snorkeling, and kayaking in the mornings, as well as great seminars in the afternoons, and social events in the evenings. Donate today to reserve your invitation to these inspiring marine conservation events and join us for some fishy fun! Visit https://www.REEF.org/donor-recognition-levels for more information about becoming a Sustainer!
Join REEF’s upcoming Field Survey Trip that will include diving around both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, with some of the best diving conditions that the Caribbean has to offer! The Cayman Islands are known for outstanding visibility and few currents, making this an excellent destination for divers of all ages and abilities. This unique itinerary will give participants the chance to explore the two sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are renowned for beautiful coral reefs and amazing wall diving. Guests will stay at Cayman Brac Beach Resort and Little Cayman Beach Resort, both well-known for providing a high level of service in a relaxing, tropical atmosphere. Find the full trip details online here. Contact us at trips@REEF.org to sign up today!
REEF Trips are excellent opportunities to get started with the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, or expand your fish watching knowledge alongside other marine life enthusiasts. This trip will include daily group diving, followed by marine life seminars led by REEF’s marine life experts. Whether you are a first time surveyor, or an experienced fishwatcher, we invite you to join REEF in the Cayman Islands this fall. We hope that you will join us!
For the first three weeks in July, REEF’s Invasive Species Program Manager, Dr. Alli Candelmo, and Lead Intern for the Invasive Species Program, Madalyn “Moose” Mussey, have spent almost every day underwater conducting lionfish research. With the help of Forever Young Charter Company, Tony Young, Jeff Leonia, REEF staff, and volunteers, REEF has been assessing lionfish densities in deep water habitats off Islamorada, FL. Along with habitat surveys, the team has deployed a hydrophone (which records underwater sounds including fish sounds) in a site with high densities of lionfish. The goal is to record lionfish communicating with each other and to determine their associated behavior. The team has also been deploying a Trident Underwater Drone donated by Sofar Ocean Technologies in collaboration with National Geographic Open Explorer to survey deep sites for lionfish in between dives. All research activities have occurred within NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary under permit. Financial support of this research was provided by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Foundation (NOAA), through the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida (FWFF).
We were also looking forward to partnering with Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium to host our 6th Annual Sarasota Lionfish Derby on July 13-15. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Barry had other plans and inclement weather forced us to cancel the derby. Nevertheless, the lionfish culinary competition held at Mote still went on! Five chefs, representing Deep Sea Diner, Michael’s on East, Modern Events, Indigenous, and Mattison’s, used 850 lionfish to show off their culinary skills and wow visitors and judges with their tasty samples.
There is one more chance this year to participate in the 2019 REEF Derby Series. REEF’s 10th Annual Upper Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival, held at Postcard Inn in Islamorada, will take place Sept.13-15. Click here to register a team for the Upper Keys Derby. On derby day, spectators are invited to attend the festivities and sample some lionfish for free! On Sunday, Sept. 15, an outdoor environmental festival will be hosted along with scoring, raffles, games, dissection and fillet demos, and more. Local vendors, nonprofits, government agencies and environmentally minded artisans are invited to register a booth at this event. Space is limited, so sign up today. Click here for more information about booth space at the Upper Keys Derby.
This month, REEF is proud to highlight one of our outstanding Conservation Partners: Blue Planet Scuba in Washington, D.C. REEF Conservation Partners are active organizations and dive shops dedicated to protecting marine environments. As valued REEF ambassadors, they teach fish ID classes, host survey dives, organize volunteer events and more. Read on to find out how you can get involved with these centers of conservation action!
With more than 80 partners across the country and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to engage! You can see the full listing of Conservation Partners or register your business or organization as a REEF Conservation Partner here: www.REEF.org/conservation-partners.
Blue Planet Scuba
Blue Planet Scuba is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center located in Washington, D.C. Blue Planet provides educational opportunities and scuba diving experiences that help protect both local and global marine environments. This shop promotes sustainability and conservation initiatives including avoiding single-use plastics, using reef-safe sunscreen, and donating to conservation organizations with every certification card they issue. Join monthly fish ID classes, or complete fish surveys while on a trip through their shop. Additionally, they host fundraisers every year for conservation organizations, and the latest one was for REEF. Thank you, Blue Planet Scuba!
Conservation Actions – How can you get involved?
• Join a monthly fish ID class hosted at Blue Planet Scuba to learn more about marine life from diverse destinations all around the world.
• Complete REEF surveys or coral restoration efforts on one of Blue Planet Scuba’s monthly group SCUBA trips.
• Join one of the regular cleanups along Rock Creek, or a Dive Against Debris event on the Chesapeake Bay.
• Listen to an environmentally focused topic presented by a monthly guest speaker, or come for the monthly happy hour!
• Support one of the fundraising events hosted at Blue Planet Scuba
Why is conserving marine environments important to Blue Planet Scuba?
Divers are ambassadors for the underwater world. You hear it a lot in the dive industry, but it's true! We see first-hand what these marine environments are facing and we must do what we can to protect them: share our photos and experiences with non-divers, lobby for better policies and enforcement, serve as an example to others in our personal choices about what to eat, buy, use, etc. If we're fortunate enough to have the means and training to breathe underwater and see the world beneath the waves, we have an obligation to protect it too!
For more information on how you can get involved, visit Blue Planet Scuba’s website or Facebook page.
REEF Fishinars are fun, live, interactive webinars, open to anyone who wants to learn about ocean life. Our next Fishinar, California Sluginar, is coming up on August 15 at 7pm Pacific. Join guest presenter and California marine life ID exert Herb Gruenhagen for this fun and informative presentation covering the biology and life history of some of California's Headshield Slugs, Seahares, Sidegills, Sap Sucklings, Nudibranchs and more! You can tune in live from a computer, tablet or mobile device with a good internet connection. Register for this free session online at: www.REEF.org/fishinars.
REEF has over 170 archived presentations and REEF members can stream or download them any time from www.REEF.org/fishinararchives.
Congratulations to the following REEF members who have recently moved up an Experience Level in our Volunteer Fish Survey Project! Volunteers have the opportunity to advance through 5 levels (Novice through Expert) within each of our survey project regions. Experience Levels are obtained by a combination of fish/invertebrate ID tests and numbers of submitted surveys. More about our experience levels can be found here.
Russell Taylor - Level 2
Rocio Bunker - Level 2
John Davison - Level 2
Anna Davison - Level 2
Katie Winzeler - Level 2
Nicole Stockham - Level 2
Central Indo Pacific region (CIP):
Lynn Fulks - Level 3
Pacific Northwest region (PNW/PAC)
Scott Steinbright - Levels 3 and 5
South Atlantic States (SAS):
Steve Campbell - Level 3
Kristina Flanigan - Level 2
Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP):
Kenny Tidwell - Level 3
Sue Langston - Level 3
Ann Johnson - Level 3
Paul Felix - Level 3
Amy Lee - Level 3
Callie Mack - Level 2
Georgia King - Level 2
Ann Johnson - Level 2
Karin Selin - Level 2
Mimi Hayakawa - Level 2
Paul Felix - Level 2
Bill Berger - Level 2
Burnley Truax - Level 2
Cindy Hmelo-Silver - Level 2
Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA):
Teresa Banker - Level 4
Christa Anderson - Level 3
Madalyn Mussey - Level 3
Brittany Parker - Level 3
David Ehlert - Level 3
Katlynd Treiber-Vajda - Level 3
Larry Colbert - Level 2
Danielle Parmenter - Level 2
Jeremy Munn - Level 2
Kate Dremluk - Level 2
Ben Farmer - Level 2
Matt Hall - Level 2
Stacey Henderson - Level 2
Evelyn Girardi - Level 2
Paulette Lee - Level 2
Suellen Girard - Level 2
Latifa Till - Level 2
Patrick Coffey - Level 2
Peggy Huson - Level 2
Amme Fleming - Level 2
Patrick Fleming - Level 2
Dave Murray - Level 2
Ella Harder - Level 2
We look forward to participation in the Volunteer Fish Survey Project by these enthusiastic citizen scientists!