Spring has been a rewarding and productive season for the REEF Campus-based Ocean Explorers Education team! From traveling to the Florida panhandle to lend a hand with measuring fish at the world's largest lionfish derby, to attending a conservation-based music festival on the beach in south Florida, we have been spreading the word about REEF’s programs far and wide. Here are some recent education and outreach highlights.

We recently attended Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival. This three-day, oceanfront music festival is dedicated to creating awareness and raising funds for ocean conservation. We had a booth at the festival's Conservation Village, and throughout the weekend more than 1,500 visitors stopped by to learn about our marine conservation programs and hear about our invasive lionfish work. This was a fantastic way to engage with ocean lovers from around the country while enjoying great music. We always enjoy attending Tortuga Music Festival, and are thankful to Rock the Ocean for their continued support. 

Several weeks after returning from Tortuga Music Festival, we hosted our second annual Arts & Science Festival at the REEF Campus in Key Largo. Attendees enjoyed a day full of art, crafts, science, and education activities, including writing a letter to reef to making tie-dye creations. Local artists, non-profits and artisanal vendors were also in attendance, with interactive activity booths and crafts of their own to help highlight the many connections between science and the arts.

In May, we traveled to Destin, Florida, to celebrate Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day by staffing a booth at the Emerald Coast Open, the world's largest lionfish derby. During the 2024 tournament, 11,844 invasive lionfish were removed from Florida’s waters. We are thankful to have had the chance to help educate the public about the lionfish invasion and what people can do to help, from collecting lionfish to spreading the word to raise awareness.

In addition to outreach events, we welcomed plenty of visitors to the REEF Campus for education programs this spring. We recently hosted a group of students Georgia State University, who traveled to the Keys for a REEF Ocean Explorers Expedition. They enjoyed a week filled with hands-on field experiences, where they learned about invasive species, endangered species, tropical ecology, fish identification, and citizen science. They got to conduct REEF surveys while snorkeling, kayak through the mangroves, create their own lionfish jewelry, and conduct lionfish dissections.

Want to keep up with our programs? You can see all upcoming REEF events by viewing our calendar here.