Last month, we wrapped up the year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Volunteer Fish Survey Project (VFSP). Since its launch in 1993, this citizen science program has generated one of the largest marine life databases in the world. Here are a few stats to recap a great year! 

  • A total of 13,988 surveys were conducted and submitted to the REEF VFSP database in 2023. These surveys were conducted at 2,642 sites in oceans all over the world. An additional 1,404 surveys were submitted in 2023 but conducted in a previous year (surveys never expire!)
  • 745 volunteers participated in the VFSP in 2023. The five most prolific surveyors in 2023 were: Peter Leahy (436 surveys), Chuck Curry (270 surveys), Carmen Toanchina (270), Janet Eyre (267), and Matt Wilbur (208). See the end of this article for the top 50 surveyors in 2023.
  • 8 VFSP surveyors achieved one of the highest honors in the VFSP by joining the Golden Hamlet Club and submitting their 1,000th REEF survey! Surveyors who joined the Golden Hamlet Club in 2023 are: Kara Curry, Janet Camp, Ed Gullekson, Carol Cox, Marta Bonatz, Joseph Mangiafico, Kenny Tidwell, and Sara Cowles.
  • 136 VFSP participants completed the 30 for 30 Challenge, conducting and submitting at least 30 surveys in 2023. They were rewarded for their efforts with a special VFSP dry bag and sticker.
  • The total number of surveys in the REEF database as of Jan. 8, 2024, is 294,714!! A total of 17,371 volunteers have contributed since the VFSP started.
  • REEF VFSP data and programs have been included in 132 scientific publications, covering a broad range of topics from species trends, to marine protected area effectiveness, to documenting the spread of invasives and disease, to identifying new species. 

Check out this timeline of important milestones in the first 30 years of the VFSP. For more Top Stats for the VFSP visit If you are a surveyor, be sure to visit your customized reports under the My REEF menu. Thank you to everyone who helped make 2023 one of the most successful in the history of the VFSP. Here's to the next 30 years and beyond!

Here are the top 50 most prolific surveyors in 2023 (numbers represent total surveys conducted and submitted in 2023)

Peter Leahy (436)
Chuck Curry (270)
Carmen Toanchina (270)
Janet Eyre (267)
Matt Wilbur (208)
Karen Bogart (207)
Dave Grenda (193)
Sara Cowles (174)
Mary Adams (154)
Kreg Martin (145)
Herb Gruenhagen (136)
Pam Wade (131)
Janet Camp (131)
Ed Gullekson (125)
Laurel Fulton (123)
Edward Benjamin (121)
Joseph Mangiafico (119)
Amy Lee (118)
Don Gordon (116)
Tracey Griffin (111)
Deborah Cacace (111)
Marta H. Bonatz (110)
Susan Langston (107)
Eric A. Frick (106)
Karen Bohner (105)
Katherine Mauser (102)
Shaina Michael (101)
Kim White (99)
Fred Hartner (98)
David Thompson (96)
David Ehlert (95)
Frank Krasovec (94)
Paul Bonatz (93)
Kristi Draper (90)
Marilyn Bentley (90)
Lillian Kenney (89)
Christy Semmens (88)
Robert Bentley (88)
Marta Zahalak (87)
Kathie Comerford (86)
Kara Curry (84)
Callie Mack (83)
Luanne Betz (82)
William Ribbens (82)
Kris Karlen (82)
Gail Roberts (81)
Bill Isbell (76)
Dana Kowalsick (76)
David Baasch (75)
Janet Clayton (74)