There are just a few days remaining in our summer fundraising campaign, and that means just a few days left to have your donation matched! This year, three of our longtime foundation supporters are generously doubling all contributions made by August 8. If you haven't yet donated, click here to support our marine conservation programs. Your support helps ensure that we can continue the critical work to study and protect the oceans through citizen science and education. Please consider donating today to help us reach our goal of $70,000. Every donation counts, no matter how large or small. You can contribute online here or send a check to P.O. Box 370246, Key Largo, FL, 33037.
If you haven't made your contribution to be part of our new Ocean Unity display, now is the time! To commemorate REEF's 30th anniversary, this new display will be installed in the garden at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida. Ocean Unity shows how small actions can add up to make a big difference. For three decades, the REEF family has had a profound impact on marine conservation, and this one-of-a-kind display represents the amazing things we can accomplish together for the oceans. Those who give $500 or more between now and August 8 will receive a personalized plaque in the Ocean Unity display. Visit www.REEF.org/oceanunity for more information.
Thank you to all of the amazing members who have donated this summer. We are so grateful for your generosity!
All data submitted to REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project (VFSP) are housed in a publicly-assessible database that can be queried through a variety of reports on the REEF website. REEF recently partnered with Dr. Ross Robertson at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to link the online REEF Species Distribution Reports to species accounts on STRI’s online information systems, “Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean” and “Shorefishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific”. By clicking on the REEF logo at the bottom of each species account in STRI’s system, the user can view a summary report of sightings for that species by REEF surveyors. We are excited about this opportunity to increase the reach and utility of REEF’s long-term fish sightings data in these regions. You can visit STRI's pages here - Greater Caribbean and Tropical Eastern Pacific.
In addition to online summary reports, REEF provides raw datafiles to researchers on request. More than 60 scientific publications have resulted from analyses conducted with REEF data. You can find a full list here. In the last few months, REEF has provided datafiles to:
- A postdoctoral researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who is looking at region-wide fish population trends in Florida and the Caribbean basin.
- Researchers from Oregon State University who are leading a working group to evaluate Sunflower Star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) population trends and recovery from sea star wasting disease, and possible listing on the IUCN Red List.
- Staff from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to evaluate fish populations in the OCNMS for a NOAA Condition Report.
- A research fellow working with the San Juan County Marine Resources Committee to update their Marine Stewardship Area plan.
As we shared earlier this year, the VFSP database surpassed a quarter million surveys. Every one of the 16,000+ volunteers who has contributed toward this achievement helped REEF become the respected and effective marine citizen science organization it is today. In celebration of this milestone, we honored 108 of our most active volunteers, who had collectively submitted 88,155 of the surveys. Each received a certificate with some personalized stats from their VFSP efforts. We have loved seeing the pictures of these surveyors proudly displaying their quarter-million certificates. Check out the album of surveyors here.
REEF's in-person programming is on hold until further notice, but there are still ways you can stay engaged in marine conservation from home.
Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K
Registration is open for the first-ever REEF Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K Race, which will take place from Sept. 28-Oct. 4. You can choose to run, walk, bike, or hike the 3.1 mile distance in one day, or break it into smaller sections throughout the week. To add to the excitement, we've chosen a special fish representative from each of our 11 Volunteer Fish Survey Project regions, and you can sign up to be part of your favorite fish's team! From the flamboyant Clown Triggerfish, to the graceful Fire Dartfish or the feisty Garibaldi, there's a fish team for everyone. You can report your race time if you'd like, and after the race each team’s results will be shared. Proceeds from the Fish Out of Water 5K will support REEF’s new "Oceans for All Fund." This fund provides ocean-focused educational opportunities for underserved communities and those with financial need; allowing REEF to further its commitment to increase inclusive programming for populations traditionally underrepresented in science, diving, and conservation. Registration is $35 per person and includes a limited-edition Fish Out of Water 5K shirt, race bib, finishers’ medal, and certificate of completion. Registration is open through October 4, the last day of the race. Participants who register after August 14 may receive their materials after the event. For more information or to register, visit www.REEF.org/5Krace.
Fishinars are free webinars for anyone who wants to learn more about marine life. They are great for both experienced REEF surveyors or anyone who wants to review. These educational sessions are designed to teach you the finer points of fish identification. All Fishinars are recorded and more than 190 archived sessions are accessible for viewing at any time. There is a Fishinar for every ocean region and every level of experience. Upcoming Fishinars include:
Sand and Rubble of the Tropical Pacific
Taught by Amy Lee. August 12, 8:00pm EDT. Click here to register.
Fishy Hour: Fish Jeopardy Game – Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) Fishes
Hosted by Christy and Brice Semmens. August 28, 8:00pm EDT. Click here to register.
Voting is open for the 2020 Underwater Photography Contest. Click here to vote for your favorite photo in each of the five categories. The winning photographs will be announced the week of August 10.
Social Media Updates
Follow REEF on TikTok: @REEF_org
This social media app consists of short, 10-second videos featuring our programs in a light-hearted way.
Live Lionfish Feedings on Instagram: @REEF_org
Join us on Instagram Live every Friday at 2:00pm EDT to watch our Marine Conservation Interns feed Sparkles, the resident REEF Campus lionfish.
Despite a summer with very little Lionfish Derby action, our Invasive Species Program has been keeping busy with plenty of projects, including several grants that we have recently been awarded to support our ongoing lionfish work. First, we're excited to share that REEF has been awarded $299,087 through NOAA's Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grants Program, to study the effectiveness of lionfish traps on deep reefs in the Florida Keys. These innovative, non-containment lionfish traps do not use bait and are designed specifically to attract lionfish, which prefer to live near structure and manmade objects. Traps like these are beneficial because they reduce bycatch and eliminate the risk of abandoned fishing traps, also known as "ghost traps." This project will build upon previous experience from several organizations and individuals, including Dr. Steve Gittings of NOAA, who originally designed the traps.
Throughout the course of the two-year grant period, REEF will collaborate with partners including Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Dr. Steve Gittings, Alex Fogg (Coast Watch Alliance), Dr. Holden Harris (University of Florida) and Lionfish University. We will also utilize the expertise of the Florida Keys lobster fishing community to improve trap design and catch rates. Ultimately, the goal of the project is to determine whether NC lionfish traps are an effective and viable fishing method to target lionfish populations in deep water. Widespread lionfish trap use may significantly reduce the impacts of lionfish on deep water habitats that are not able to be accessed by recreational divers.
Additionally, we have updated our invasive species education and outreach materials, thanks to funding from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Fish Florida. The REEF Campus now has a brand new lionfish display featuring a traveling aquarium, which allows us to bring live lionfish into classrooms and to events like derbies. We have also upgraded our lionfish dissection display and supplies. This new exhibit includes a stereo-dissecting and compound microscope station, allowing visitors to view spines, scales, plankton, larvae, and eggs up close. We look forward to incorporating this hands-on exhibit into future Ocean Explorers Education Programs. REEF offers virtual and in person education programs, and each session can be customized to fit the needs and interests of the group. For more information about our education programs, visit this page.
Discounted Items: Check out the clearance section in our online store - there are some great deals on REEF swag like rash guards and t-shirts. We have also discounted some of our field guides and other books. Click here to view discounted items. Clearance items are availble while supplies last.
New Book: We now sell the book Caribbean Reef Life by Mickey Charteris. The expanded third edition, released in 2018, includes information about more than 1,500 reef inhabitants including marine plants, sponges, corals, invertebrates, fishes, marine mammals, and turtles. Click here to purchase your copy today!
Updated Shipping Rates: Shipping is now a flat rate of $5 for domestic US shipping, on orders up to $50. Merchandise orders of $50 or more ship to domestic US addresses for free! Certain restrictions and exclusions may apply. International shipping rates vary depending on weight and destination. Contact orders@REEF.org for wholesale orders, expedited shipping, or other questions.
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 Joe Mangiafico, who lives in Washington. Joe has been a REEF member since 2011, and since then he has amassed 665 REEF surveys, most of which have been conducted in cold water regions. Joe is a level 5 surveyor in the Northeast US and Canada (NE) region, where he has submited 410 surveys, making him REEF's second most active surveyor in the NE region! In addition to that, Joe is a level 5 surveyor in the Pacific Coast (PAC) region. Earlier this year, he became a level 2 surveyor in the Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) region. Thank you Joe, for being such a dedicated member and surveyor!
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF of become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
In 2011, I was participating in a research cruise documenting fish behavior off the coast of Georgia. One of the individuals in our group was submitting his survey data to REEF. I had heard of REEF before, but it was during this time that I decided to become a member.
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey Trip or participated in an Advanced Assessment Team project, where and what was your trip highlight?
I was involved with the Advanced Assessment Team project in the San Juan Islands in Washington. There were two things that stood out from this trip - Tiger Rockfish and the people. Tiger Rockfish are a beautiful, long-lived fish that spend most of the time hiding. The people on the trip all shared a passion for the marine environment and were great to be around
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs?
In my opinion, the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs is inspiring public involvement. By getting the public involved, people take ownership of our oceans and then become stewards of the oceans.
Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there?
Most of my diving is close to home. The best part of diving close to home is that you can visit your favorite sites and critters more often. There are many sites near where I live that I love to visit, but at this moment if I had to pick one it would be Keystone Jetty. There is great abundance and diversity for both fish and invertebrates.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
One of my most fascinating fish encounters happened on a Christmas night dive. My wife and I were diving in Homles Harbor in Freeland, Washington. The site is a silt bottom with not a lot of diversity. When we reached 37 feet we both saw this shape come out of the darkness. We both realized at the same time that it was a Bluntnose Sixgill Shark. The shark was about 8-9 feet long and made a close pass. Amazing animal.
REEF is proud to highlight one of our exceptional Conservation Partners: Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire. REEF Conservation Partners are active organizations and dive shops committed to protecting marine environments worldwide. As valued REEF ambassadors, they serve as centers for marine conservation actions, outreach, and education. You can view the full listing of Conservation Partners or register your organization as a REEF Conservation Partner here.
In what ways do you participate with REEF’s main programs?
Throughout the year our in-house REEF Fish ID expert, Danny Hattink, offers REEF Fish Identification classes to our guests. REEF Fish Identification is also a mandatory initial training for our dive staff. Buddy Dive is also engaged with REEF's Invasive Species Program by training guests and actively hunting lionfish.
What other actions do you take to promote marine conservation?
Once a year, we host a marine life education program with REEF Board of Trustees members Ned and Anna DeLoach. This monthlong program consists of presentations about fish ID and behavior, REEF Fish ID courses, and guided fish ID dives by boat or shore and also into the mangroves.
How can REEF members get involved with Buddy Dive?
REEF members may visit our website and look for upcoming events. They can also contact Augusto Montbrun by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to request fish ID & lionfish related courses or activities.
Meet our August Fish of the Month, the Bluespotted Jawfish (Opistognathus rosenblatti)!
Survey Regions: Bluespotted Jawfish are found in the Gulf of California and the Revillagigedo Islands, part of REEF's Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) survey region. Click here to view the species distribution report in the REEF database.
Size: They can grow to be about 4 inches long.
Identifying Features: Bluespotted Jawfish have a tan to brown body that is covered in rows of large blue spots. Mating males are very distinctive, with a white forebody and a dark rear body.
Fun Facts: These fish are found in sandy, rubble areas and can live in colonies of up to several hundred individuals. They are typically seen with only their heads protrouding from their burrows. Male Bluespotted Jawfish are mouth brooders, which means they incubate their eggs in their mouths.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the September issue of e-News to see our next Fish of the Month.
Photo by Carol Cox.