Exotic and invasive species are those that are not native to an area, but have been brought in through human activities. Non-native marine fishes can pose a major threat to fisheries, habitats, native species, and overall ecosystem function. The REEF Invasive Species Program uses conservation science, research, education, and community outreach to raise awareness about these threats. Here are four ways you can get involved:

Report Your Sightings: Recreational divers and snorkelers notice rare and unusual fish species, and often know what doesn't belong. Anyone who sees a non-native marine fish species (including but not limited to invasive lionfish) is encouraged to submit a report using REEF's Exotic Species Sightings Form. If you are a REEF surveyor, you can also report any non-natives you see when you conduct a fish survey.

Participate in the Florida Keys Lionfish Sweeps: Removing lionfish from local reefs regularly can help protect native fish species and maintain a balanced ecosystem. Now through June 30, divers and snorkelers may participate in the Florida Keys Lionfish Sweeps by removing invasive lionfish for a chance to win cash and raffle prizes. Harvested lionfish are also donated to REEF Education and Outreach Programs, helping to educate the public about invasive species! Click here for more info.

Join in the Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival on Sept. 7-10: REEF's 14th annual event will include two full days of lionfish hunting, followed by a family-friendly festival at picturesque Postcard Inn Resort & Marina. The festival is open to the public and will include lionfish scoring, cooking, fillet and dissection demos, lionfish tastings, lionfish games and crafts, raffle prizes, drink specials, and booths from environmentally-minded vendors. You can register a team to compete in the derby, or simply plan to attend the festival. Check out www.REEF.org/derby for all the details.

Stay Informed: Invasive lionfish known as the first successful marine fish invasion, but there's a new non-native species in town. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the Regal Demoiselle, Neopomacentrus cyanomos, is a part of the damselfish family. First reported as an exotic species in the Gulf of Mexico in 2016, it has since been reported in Florida. It is important to track the spread of this species to understand the impacts it may have on native ecosystems. REEF members in the Tropical Western Atlantic are encouraged to be on the lookout for the Regal Demoiselle. Check out this page for more info.