As 2020 gets underway, here are a few 2019 highlights from the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, REEF's citizen science marine life monitoring program, as of Jan 5, 2020.*
698 volunteer surveyors conducted and submitted 11,065 surveys in 2019. This number will definitely rise as members catch up on their backlog of data entry.
An additional 1,329 surveys were submitted in 2019 that were conducted in previous years.
19 members conducted and submitted at least 100 REEF surveys in 2019. Janet Eyre was once again our most prolific surveyor, conducting and submitting 298 surveys in the year. The others who submitted over 100 are: Chuck Curry, Kara Curry, Don Gordon, Dave Grenda, Marilyn Bentley, Robert Bentley, Doug Harder, Tracey Griffin, Cassandra Neal, MJ Farr, Kreg Martin, Peter Leahy, Marta Zahalak, Ron Wolfe, Laurie Fulton, Kim White, Janna Nichols, and Ed Gullekson.
2019 saw an expansion of the Volunteer Fish Survey Project in to the Indian Ocean and Red Sea (IORS). The survey program is now in ten regions. The most surveyed regions last year were:
Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) - 5,848
Pacific Coast of US and Canada (PAC) - 1,641
Central Indo-Pacific (CIP) - 1,052
Indian Ocean Red Sea (IORS) - 1,002
REEF surveys are conducted under a variety of circumstances, including individuals surveying on their own (both locally and farther afield on vacation), during organized group dives (such as during the Great Annual Fish Count each July and Advanced Assessment Team projects), as part of school groups participating in REEF Explorers Education programs, and during REEF Field Survey Trips.
In 2019, we coordinated 15 REEF Trips to destinations in several of our survey regions. Data collected during these intensive survey trips represent about one-quarter of the annual surveys submitted. A team of Expert-level surveyors also conducted a week of surveys around Hornby Island in British Columbia as part of an annual effort to montior significant areas in the Salish Sea in collaboration with the Sea-Doc Society.
Sixteen scientists requested raw data files from the REEF database in 2019, in order to evaluate status and trends of species populations. Three scientific papers were published during the year that included REEF data and projects.
We are so appreciative of everyone who submitted surveys, went on REEF Trips, and donated to REEF to make all of this possible!
This year marks 30 years since the founding of REEF. The cornerstone of our programs is the Volunteer Fish Survey Project. It started as an idea among a few concerned divers, and has blossomed into one of the most effective ocean citizen science efforts. The very first surveys were conducted in the summer of 1993 in Florida. Since then, the program has expanded to oceans around the world. These data are used by scientists, resource agencies, and the public so we can better understand and protect our oceans. Since it started in July 1993, 16,207 volunteers have submitted at least one survey. A total of 247,527 surveys are in the database, conducted at 14,830 sites world-wide. It’s astonishing to think about how far we have come.
To explore the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project database, visit www.REEF.org/db/reports. To find out more about the effort, visit www.REEF.org/vfsp. To see scientific papers that have included REEF data and projects, visit www.REEF.org/db/publications.
*A note about all of the numbers above: because REEF surveys are conducted continuously, often surveyors do not enter the data right away, and all submitted data are error checked before going in to the database, these number for 2019 will continue to increase, and only represent a snapshot as of January 5, 2019.