Author: The REEF Team
We are nearing the end of our summer ocean celebration, and that means there are just a couple days left to have your donation matched dollar for dollar! All donations made by this Sunday, August 8 will be doubled. Can you help us reach our goal of raising $70,000? You can visit www.REEF.org/donate to give securely online.
We are so thankful to everyone who has already made a gift this summer. We are also grateful to The Curtis & Edith Munson Foundation, The Henry Foundation, and The Meyer Foundation for their generous and ongoing commitment by providing this match opportunity.
Be sure to make your contribution by August 8 to have your donation doubled. If you're able to give $250 or more, you'll also receive a set of eight notecards with marine life images photographed by REEF Co-Founder Ned DeLoach. It's our way of saying thank you for joining in our summer ocean celebration.
Author: Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., Co-Executive Director: Science & Engagement
Our cornerstone citizen science program is called the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, but did you know that REEF surveyors also record sea turtle sightings in all oceans? As part of this global citizen science marine life monitoring program, REEF volunteers have reported sea turtle sightings since 2001. This dataset was recently used as one of several sources of information to study sea turtles in an unexpected location, southern California. Sea turtles aren't always what come to mind when you think of animals that inhabit the temperate waters and kelp forests off of San Diego, but since 2014, Green Sea Turtles have been sighted in greater numbers in this area, at the northern end of their range. This local population of sea turtles, concentrated mostly in La Jolla Shores, was the subject of the recent study, and is the first to provide information about Green Sea Turtle distribution throughout southern California based on opportunistic sightings by the general public. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science earlier this year. You can check out www.REEF.org/db/publications for more information on this and other papers that include REEF data and projects.
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
REEF Fest 2021 is an annual celebration of marine conservation in Key Largo, Florida. This year's event is taking place on October 14-17 and we hope you'll join us for ocean-themed seminars, eco-excursions like diving, snorkeling, and kayaking, and fun social gatherings. Each evening of REEF Fest features a different social event, allowing for plenty of time to mingle with REEF members, enjoy delicious food and drink, and connect with fellow ocean enthusiasts. Most REEF Fest events are free to attend, but pre-registration is requested. You can register online for REEF Fest by clicking here. If you have already registered, we can't wait to see you soon!
Check out all the details for REEF Fest 2021 by visiting www.REEF.org/REEFfest. We hope to see you in Key Largo this fall!
REEF Fest 2021 Social Events
Open House Welcome Gathering: Thursday, October 14 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm
REEF Campus (98300 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, FL 33037)
We're kicking off REEF Fest with our annual REEF Campus Open House! Before you head out for dinner, drop by the historic Headquarters building, walk the Native Plants Trail, and tour the Interpretive Center while mingling with fellow conservationists. Local craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Company and wine will be available. This event is free to attend.
REEF Fest Happy Hour Social: Friday, October 15 from 5:00 - 6:30 pm, followed by keynote seminar presented by Dr. Richard Smith
Murray Nelson Government Center (102050 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, FL 33037)
Mingle with friends while enjoying happy hour food and drinks. Following the social, we will head back inside the auditorium for a keynote presentation from marine biologist Dr. Richard Smith. This event is free to attend.
For the Love of the Sea Celebration - Tickets Required: Saturday, October 16 from 5:00 - 9:00 pm
103674 Overseas Hwy. Key Largo, FL 33037, an outdoor waterfront venue located next to Quiescence Diving Services on Key Largo's Blackwater Sound
Enjoy food, drinks, live music, silent auction, and a beautiful sunset over the waters of Florida Bay. Tickets are available for $75 per person and may be purchased online when you register for REEF Fest. Tickets include a variety of sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres and quick bites, along with delicious desserts and an open bar with local craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Company, plus wine, liquor, and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages. Passed appetizers will be served from 5:30-6:30 pm. Food stations will be open from 7-8:30pm to enjoy at your leisure. To see the full menu, please visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/social. To maximize engagement and socializing, there will not be any formal program for the evening. Scattered seating throughout the property will be available. Thank you to our caterer, A Moveable Feast, for providing in-kind support for this event.
Author: Summer Huber, Conservation Science Lead Intern
The 2021 REEF Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival will take place on September 9-12. This 12th annual event is sponsored by Ocean Reef Conservation Association (ORCA), a non-profit dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment, fish, wildlife, and marine related areas including water quality and habitat. Since 2009, ORCA has supported the efforts of several non-profits including Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, The Everglades Foundation, Audubon of Florida, Coral Restoration Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association and more. Education is an important part of ORCA's mission. The organization annually awards college scholarships to graduating seniors in the Florida Keys who are pursuing marine and environmental studies. Since 2010, the Scholarship Program has awarded over $500,000 to the future stewards of our environment.
The 2021 Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival is made possible thanks to supporters like ORCA. During the event, teams of 2-4 people will compete for more than $6,000 in cash prizes, which will be awarded to teams who bring in the smallest, largest, and most lionfish. The event allows for two full days of fishing from sunrise to sunset on Friday, Sept. 10 and Saturday, Sept. 11. The derby will culminate with a family-friendly festival at picturesque Postcard Inn Resort & Marina from 11am-3pm on Sunday, Sept. 12. The festival is open to the public and will include lionfish scoring, fillet and dissection demonstrations, lionfish tastings, lionfish games and crafts, raffle prizes, and other activities and products from 30 environmentally-minded vendors.
We are so thankful to ORCA's generous financial support to help us combat the lionfish invasion and protect our marine habitats. Click here for more information about the 2021 REEF Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival.
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
Spend a week in the Caribbean conducting fish surveys this fall! There are just a few spaces remaining on the REEF Field Survey Trip to St. Croix on November 6-13, 2021. Known for amazing wall diving, the beautiful island of St. Croix is part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Running along the northern side of the island, the wall begins in 25-40 feet of water and plunges to 13,000 feet below the surface. This weeklong trip includes 10 boat dives and daily classes to help build your Tropical Western Atlantic fish identification skills. St. Croix is also home to the Fredericksted Pier, located across the island. This shore diving site is popular site for macro lovers and offers a great opportunity to see unique finds like seahorses, frogfish, and batfish. Divers and non-divers will also appreciate St. Croix's rich culture and history. The city of Christiansted has tours, national parks and monuments, historic churches, charming courtyards, boutique shopping, independent restaurants and cafes, as well as beautiful spots along its streets and boardwalk. You can find more details about this trip by clicking here. Contact trips@REEF.org to register for what is sure to be an amazing trip!
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
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 REEF member John McGurl. John lives in Virginia and has been a REEF member since 2006. He loves to travel and dive, and has attended plenty of REEF Field Survey Trips. John is a Level 3 surveyor in the Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) region and has conducted 115 REEF surveys. He also supports REEF's Marine Conservation Internship through the John McGurl and Michelle Gluck Scholarship, which provides funding for intern alumni to participate in professional development opportunities and events like REEF Fest. We're so thankful for John's enthusiasm and dedication to REEF's mission!
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey, where and what was your trip highlight?
The highlight was the trip to Cozumel — the first of nearly 15 REEF Trips that I’ve taken since. In Cozumel, I spent a week in the company of fellow fish enthusiasts, attending daily lectures and diving with expert guides Tracy Griffin and Sheryl Shea, whose knowledge and leadership made all the difference in the world. They pointed out so many fish that I had heretofore seen only in books. How much more rewarding to see those fish up close in the water!
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
I’ve been fascinated with the undersea world since I was a child, and I’ve been diving for over 40 years. As a scientist, I am trained to make observations and identify and classify what I observe. Performing a fish survey requires me to look at something and classify it, capturing and recording what I know. At the same time, compiling that information reminds me how little I do know!
Conducting REEF surveys provides a perfect means to satisfy my thirst for constant, incessant learning. Survey trips have taken me to waters of Florida, Grenada, Indonesia, Bermuda, Honduras, and beyond. While on a sardine run in South Africa, a magnificent Bryde’s Whale surfaced 20 feet from our group. And in the Galapagos Islands, there were scores of Mola Molas; in Fiji, amazing soft corals; and in the tropics, innumerable brightly colored fish.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs?
REEF’s bright and energetic interns! Not only do the REEF Interns provide fresh brainpower, muscle, and enthusiasm for all of REEF’s programs, they are the future of the health and longevity of the planet, the country, and the organization.
Where is your favorite place to dive and why?
The South Pacific — Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji. It’s hard to match the biodiversity of that region. On my dives there, I’ve observed a stunning array of the hard and soft corals. The sheer number of species indigenous to the South Pacific, and their brilliant colors and fascinating behaviors make that location an easy favorite.
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Go on a REEF Trip as soon as you are able! Go for the lectures — you will learn so much from the knowledgeable staff. And go for the matchless experience of diving with other people who share your interest in and love of the undersea world.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
I’m quite fond of the odd-looking Red-lipped Batfish. It appears to perch on its front legs and has what looks like bright red lipstick. (It looks like it may have been designed by a government committee.) I was thrilled to see them flitting back and forth atop reefs in the Galapagos Islands.
Is there a fish (or marine invertebrate) you haven’t seen yet diving, but would like to?
I look forward to spotting the shape-shifting Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus) the next time I am in the South Pacific.
Author: David Ehlert, Campus Coordinator
We are now accepting applications for the Spring 2022 REEF Marine Conservation Internship. Program dates are January 10-May 13, 2022. The application deadline is September 19, 2021. Visit www.REEF.org/internship for complete details and to apply.
REEF Marine Conservation Interns engage in REEF's citizen science, community outreach, and education programs while learning about non-profit operations, donor relations, communication, marketing and promotions, data management, event planning, graphic design, and public speaking. They also have opportunities to enjoy all that the Florida Keys has to offer in their free time, including diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and interfacing with other non-profits and government agencies in the area. REEF Marine Conservation Interns will:
Become involved in community outreach: Interns represent REEF while helping to build public awareness about marine conservation through community outreach. Interns frequently engage with the public at a variety of events throughout the Florida Keys and South Florida, including festivals, science nights, fairs, trade shows, fishing tournaments, and more.
Learn about marine life and habitats: The Florida Keys are home to a diverse array of marine life and environments from coral reefs to mangroves. Marine Conservation Interns will gain experience in fish identification and explore Florida Keys ecology with our conservation partners.
Teach others about the ocean: REEF Interns build confidence and gain public speaking skills by giving in-person and/or virtual presentations on fish identification, marine ecology, and invasive lionfish for various audiences ranging from adults to elementary, high school, and college students.
Gain non-profit experience: A significant portion of the internship consists of working at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, where daily office management tasks range from answering phone calls and interacting with visitors, to data entry and assisting with events.
Join an amazing team: Marine Conservation Interns will work closely with our staff and many volunteers who have helped shape REEF into the wonderful citizen science organization it is today. Interns become part of a team that is passionate about conservation and dedicated to sharing knowledge about our underwater world with others.
Check out even more reasons to become a REEF Marine Conservation Intern here. The Marine Conservation Internship is intended for current undergraduate or graduate students or recent graduates. At least two years of college coursework is preferred, as well as proficiency with desktop computers and office software and excellent written and oral communication skills. Successful applicants are detail-oriented with strong organizational skills, and are able to work in a diverse and collaborate team across multiple disciplines. A strong interest in ocean life, marine conservation, citizen science, and diving is a plus. Participants from disciplines outside marine science are also encouraged to apply. We hope to see your application soon!
Author: Stacey Henderson, Program Services Coordinator
We received so many amazing submissions for our 2021 'Discover the Sea' Underwater Photography Contest, and we need your help to pick the winning photos! Now through noon EDT on Monday, August 9, you can vote for your favorite photo in each category: Fish Portrait, Invertebrate, Macro, Reefscape/Habitat/Environment and REEF Themed. The photo that receives the most votes in each category will win. Click here to see all the entries for each category and cast your votes! Voting is open to anyone, so please spread the word to your friends and family. We can't wait to see the results!
Author: Sierra Barkdoll, Citizen Science Program Lead Intern
REEF's online programs are free and open to everyone! Here's what is coming up over the next several weeks:
Fishy Hour: Fish Face-to-Face
Thursday, August 26 at 8pm EDT
Casual, fun time to check in face-to-face and say hi to your fellow REEF friends, plus a chance to meet new ones. We'll have structured breakout rooms, maybe a game, and topics to discuss.
Fishinar: Common Fishes of the Red Sea
Tuesday, September 7 at 8pm EDT
The Red Sea is full of fascinating fishes, making it a favorite spot for many divers. Learn how to recognize some of the fishes you may encounter there.
Author: The REEF Team
Introducing our August 2021 Fish of the Month, the Crescent Gunnel (Pholis laeta)!
Survey Regions: Crescent Gunnels are found from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to northern California. This area is part of REEF's California, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska (PAC) region. Click here to view a database report for the species.
Size: They can reach up to about 10 inches in length.
Identifying Features: Crescent Gunnels are shades of yellow-green to orange-brown with a row of pale bars or spots along the midbody. They are distinguished by a series of pale, crescent-shaped blotches with black outlines running along the upper back and base of their dorsal fin. They also have a dark bar below each eye.
Fun Facts: Like other members of the Gunnel family, Crescent Gunnels have an elongated body. They shelter under rocks and in beds of eelgrass and algae, and can be found living under jetties, and inside jars, cans, tires or other debris. Crescent Gunnels frequently inhabit intertidal areas, where they may remain out of water under rocks and seaweed. They are even able to breathe air when they are out of water!
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for our next Fish of the Month.
[Photo by Janna Nichols]