Author: The REEF Team
Now that our summer fundraising campaign has come to a close, we want to say a sincere thank you to all who made a gift to REEF. Because of your support, we were able to meet our goal and take advantage of our full donation match this summer. We are so thankful to The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, The Henry Foundation, and The Meyer Foundation for their generosity in matching donations.
Contributions from members like you help us collect much-needed data on ocean populations through citizen science, conduct cutting-edge conservation science research on endangered and invasive species, and engage and educate the next generation of ocean stewards. This is all possible because you share our commitment to healthy oceans. Thank you again to everyone who helped us reach our goal by donating this summer!
Photo by Andrew Ibarra.
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
You're invited to join us for REEF Fest on October 13-16, 2022 in Key Largo, Florida. REEF Fest is an annual celebration of marine conservation, featuring free ocean-themed seminars, eco-excursions, social events, and more. This year's seminar speaker lineup includes:
• Dr. Chris Stallings, Associate Professor, University of South Florida, who will discuss the history and significance of Goliath Grouper in Florida,
• Dr. Andrea Grover, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha, who will share how citizen science can support climate resilience,
• Dr. Ben Titus, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama and Senior Marine Scientist, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who will explain how clownfish-sea anemone symbiosis and citzien science are connected, and
• Dr. Richard Smith, Underwater Photographer, Author, and Marine Conservationist, who will share a richly-illustrated talk highlighting small and cryptic (yet stunning) coral reef inhabitants like pygmy seahorses.
Check out www.REEF.org/REEFfest/seminars to see full talk summaries and speaker bios. Seminars are held on Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15 at Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. Seminars are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. Visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest for registration and more info. We hope to see you at REEF Fest this fall!
Author: Alli Candelmo, Ph.D., Conservation Science Manager
Take a bite out of lionfish at the 13th annual REEF Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival, coming up on Sept. 8-11. The event features two full days of lionfish hunting, plus a family-friendly lionfish festival.
Teams of two to four people may register to compete in the derby. Registration is $100 per team and is open until Sept. 8. Teams may register in either the Apex Predators division (competitive, higher prize money) or Reef Defenders (casual, lower prize money.) Registration is available online here. A Captain's Meeting to discuss safe collecting and handling procedures and derby rules will be held on Sept. 8 from 6:30-7:30pm. Participants may choose to attend the meeting in person at the REEF Campus, or join virtually. More details will be emailed to registered teams. Derby participants may hunt lionfish from sunrise to sunset on Friday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 10. Lionfish drop off stations will be available at designated hours throughout the weekend at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Postcard Inn Resort & Marina in Islamorada, and Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key.
The derby weekend will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 11 with a lionfish festival at the picturesque Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina in Islamorada, Florida. The festival is open to the public from 11am-3pm, and includes lionfish tastings, drink specials, demonstrations, games, and interactive booths from environmentally-minded vendors. Derby winners will be announced during an awards ceremony and cash prizes will be awarded to the teams who harvest the most, largest, and smallest lionfish.
REEF is thankful for the support of our host venue, Postcard Inn Beach Resort & Marina. A Florida Keys favorite for boaters, beachgoers and more, this oceanfront resort has a private sandy beach, two swimming pools, onsite restaurants, plus a marina and dive shop. Hotel guests receive Wi-Fi, parking, use of beach chairs, bicycles, snorkel gear, kayaks, paddle boards, ping pong and corn hole, plus access to all four Islamorada Resort Collection properties. For more information, visit www.holidayisle.com.
For more details, check out the Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival Facebook event. You can also stay up to date on derby info and connect with other teams by joining the REEF Invasive Lionfish Facebook Group.
Author: Stacey Henderson, Program Services Coordinator
Are you looking to get dive or travel insurance for your next trip? REEF partners with Divers Alert Network (DAN) and DiveAssure through our Shop to Support Program. When you make a purchase from either company, a portion of the proceeds is donated to REEF. DAN insurance offers divers an affordable way to protect themselves against unpredictable expenses associated with diving accidents and dive travel. DAN will donate a percentage of the proceeds to REEF for each travel insurance policy purchased using this affiliate link.
DAN also supports REEF by contributing a portion of proceeds from new DAN memberships. Benefits include emergency medical evacuation assistance through DAN TravelAssist, a subscription to Alert Diver magazine, and access to DAN's insurance services. If you are not yet a DAN member, click here to sign up today and support REEF in the process!
DiveAssure offers scuba divers a variety of travel insurance and assistance programs, on various levels, to cover all needs of both diving locally and when traveling overseas. DiveAssure supports REEF by offering a custom referral program for travel insurance packages. Click here for more information and to purchase insurance. To see more businesses that support REEF, visit the Shop to Support page and click on the links provided by our partners to shop online.
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 Claude Nichols, a REEF member who lives in Washington. Claude is a longtime REEF member and volunteer and is married to REEF Citizen Science Program Manager Janna Nichols! An avid surveyor, Claude is very close to achieving Golden Hamlet status, with 959 REEF surveys logged so far. He's surveyed in several regions, including the Tropical Western Atlantic, US/Canada Pacific Coast, Tropical Eastern Pacific, and Hawaii. We're thankful that Claude is part of REEF!
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member?
I joined REEF in September 2001 and submitted my first survey from a dive with a Pacific Northwest Fish ID class in Puget Sound that my wife, Janna, had been involved with. I had heard about REEF from her.
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey Trip, where and what was your trip highlight?
I have been on lots of REEF Field Survey trips but my first was in October 2003 to Quadra Island off the east side of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The water temperature was a ‘balmy’ 49F and the current was ripping so fast that we were tumbling downslope after descending from the boat until we managed to hide in the back eddy behind a large boulder. We spotted three Tiger Rockfish and a juvenile Yelloweye Rockfish, among many other fish and invertebrates. Both were very beautiful and fairly uncommon to see. I think one of my favorite REEF Trips was to Bonaire. I love the combination of shore diving and boat diving. I also enjoy the additional freedom of wet suit diving in warm water in comparison to dry suit diving here in the Pacific Northwest, but I still love diving here in the cold water.
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
I enjoy the hunt for new species and realizing that those species have been present on many dives, but I missed them because I didn’t know what to look for. Surveying makes my dives more enjoyable. One of the most interesting things about surveying is learning the habitat and behavior of the fish. I also enjoy contributing to the data that is used by others to determine better what is happening underwater. I have also learned about what we jokingly call “photo bycatch” – when you take a photo to help with your survey and later, when looking at it, you discover another species that was captured in the frame!
What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
Being involved with citizen science and gathering data for use by scientists and decision makers. I love making my dives count. I also enjoy sharing what I have seen on my dives with others who ask, “So what do you see down there?”
If you had to explain REEF to a friend in a couple of sentences, what would you tell them?
I tell friends that REEF is an organization that teaches scuba divers and snorkelers to identify the fish that they see and report those species to a world-wide database, that can then be used by scientists to help with our marine environment.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs?
I believe that the Volunteer Fish Survey Project is one of the most important because interests divers and allows them to become citizen scientists.
Where is your favorite place to dive and why?
We live about three hours away from local dive sites in Hood Canal and Puget Sound. No air travel is necessary and we can load up our gear in our car and dive with our own tanks. I really enjoy diving in British Columbia, but lately we have spent more time diving in the San Juan Islands, located between Washington and Vancouver Island, BC. Not as close by, but still one of my favorite sites, is Place of Refuge/Puuhonua o Honaunau/Two Step on the Big Island of Hawaii. I love how you step into the protected area and submerge under the snorkelers and head out to the drop off on the reef.
Do you have a favorite local (or not) REEF Conservation partner or dive shop?
My favorite REEF Conservation Partner is Bandito Charters in Puget Sound, WA. Our Advanced Assessment Team partners with them annually to survey sites in Washington State. They are very supportive of REEF and are involved in doing surveys themselves for many years.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
My most fascinating encounter was seeing an adult Yelloweye Rockfish during a dive off of Hornby Island, BC. We were only in 50 feet of water and adult Yelloweye Rockfish normally are at depths beyond recreational dive limits. It was a large fish and was likely over 100 years old.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
This is a tough one. In Pacific cold water it is a Grunt Sculpin, a small fish that is not a great swimmer. They kind of scoot along the bottom using their pectoral fins like feet and have a pig-like face that is so cute. My favorite marine invertebrate is the Giant Pacific Octopus, the largest species of octopus in the world. They are beautiful, graceful creatures. In Atlantic warm water my favorite is the Yellow Jawfish. I love how they pop out of their dens and then hover before retreating back down.
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Start slow, both with your diving speed, and learning the fish. Find a dive buddy that shares your interest in surveying and you can then point out species to each other. Learn what to look for as far as habitat of where certain species hang out. Use the REEF database to see which fish are common, before you go somewhere.
What is your most memorable fish find and why? Is there a fish (or marine invertebrate) you haven’t seen yet diving, but would like to?
Most memorable is the China Rockfish. Janna and I had traveled to the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, to specifically see China Rockfish. We asked the boat captain on our first dive if we would see any. He laughed and said yes. It turns out that we saw at least one China Rockfish on nearly every dive of that trip. I have never seen a Bluntnose Sixgill Shark, even though they are present in Puget Sound and I would love to see one. They can grow up to 20 feet long. Other friends have seen and even taken photos or video of their encounters.
Author: Sierra Barkdoll, Citizen Science Coordinator
REEF's online programs are free and open to everyone! Here's what is coming up in the next several weeks:
Fishinar: Sea Basses of the Sea of Cortez
Wednesday, Sept. 7, 8pm EDT
Click here to register.
Join us to learn how to identify some of the most common members of the sea bass family, with a special focus on the Sea of Cortez, in the Tropical Eastern Pacific survey region. Led by Amy Lee.
Author: Sierra Barkdoll, Citizen Science Coordinator
REEF Fest is coming up on October 13-16, and you can earn a Conservation Challenge sticker by attending the event! REEF Fest is an annual marine conservation celebration in Key Largo, Florida. Join us for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, ocean seminars, and socials. See all the details and register at www.REEF.org/REEFfest.
For more information about the Conservation Challenge and details about other stickers you can add to your collection, visit www.REEF.org/conservationchallenge.
Author: The REEF Team
There's no better time to highlight our August Fish of the Month, the Summer Flounder, Paralichthys dentatus!
Survey Regions: The Summer Flounder is found on the east coast of North America, from Florida to Canada. This includes three REEF survey regions: Northeast US and Canada (NE), South Atlantic States (SAS), and Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA). You can view the database reports for this species here: NE Region, SAS Region, and TWA Region
Size: Males can grow up to 2 feet, and females can reach up to 3 feet!
Identifying Features: Summer Flounders have flat, brown to gray bodies, usually with five ocellated spots on their back that are arranged in an x-shaped pattern. They are able to change their coloring to blend in with the color and texture of their surroundings.
Fun Facts: After hatching from an egg, the Summer Flounder resemble other fishes, with an eye on each side of their head. As they mature, the fish's right eye slowly migrates to the left side of its head. They spend most of their adult lives lying on the seafloor, with both eyes on the same side of their body. The Summer Flounder gets its name from its tendency to migrate into nearshore waters during the spring and summer. In colder months, they move into offshore waters. There is a large commercial fishery for the Summer Flounder, but they are not overfished and are not considered threatened or endangered.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for our next Fish of the Month.
Photo by Herb Segars.