As an environmental leader in our Florida Keys community, we are excited to share that REEF is taking a big step toward sustainability by making improvements to our Headquarters in Key Largo. You can help us reduce our carbon footprint by making a one-time, tax-deductible donation to support renewable energy.
Your generous contribution of $500 or $1,000 will go directly toward the installation of solar panels on the roof of REEF's Interpretive Center, reducing our monthly energy costs by an average of 63%!
Donors will be honored on a commemorative plaque at REEF Headquarters.
In addition to solar panels, the Sustainability Showcase also includes:
• Updates to our indoor Invasive Lionfish exhibit, including a new lionfish aquarium to educate the public about the impacts of invasive species and spark conversations about responsible pet ownership.
• Two additional electric car charging stations, allowing us to accommodate all types of electric vehicles and provide an accessible source of clean energy for Florida Keys residents and visitors.
• Interpretive signage describing the importance of renewable energy.
We have received $26,500 from Monroe County Tourist Development Council for this sustainability project, and several of our most generous supporters have already contributed as well. We need to raise an additional $5,500 by Earth Day on April 22. Will you help us reach our goal?
To contribute $500 or $1,000 to this sustainability initiative, visit www.REEF.org/donate, mail your donation to REEF at PO Box 370246, Key Largo, FL 33037, or call us at 305-852-0030. If donating online, please indicate in the notes field that your contribution is for the “Solar Project at REEF,” and how you would like your name(s) to appear on the plaque.
We are counting on your generosity to help us reach our goal of $5,500! On behalf of all of us at REEF, thank you for your support!
Last month, the Grouper Moon Project - a highly successful conservation science collaboration between REEF and the Cayman Islands Department of Environment - wrapped up its 18th year of work in Little Cayman. Because all of the field work takes place during a few weeks around the winter full moons when the Nassau Grouper aggregate to spawn, the team prepares all year to ensure success for the big event. As we reported in last month’s e-News, because of this year's moon calendar, we sent research teams to Little Cayman in both January and February. Based on our historical work, we assumed that February would be the “big” month for spawning, and it turned out we were right.
Our team consisted of twelve scientists, including two REEF staff members: Dr. Christy Semmens, REEF Director of Science, and Dr. Alli Candelmo, REEF Invasive Species Program Manager. In addition, Environmental Leadership Intern, Sophie Costa and the Grouper Moon lead educator, Todd Bohannon joined the team. The team conducted daily research dives to collect data on number and size of individuals at the spawning site. Based on preliminary results, it is estimated that roughly 6,500 individuals were seen at the spawning site in February, which is similar to the numbers documented last year. The team also documented a lot of fish that were probably attending the aggregation for the first time (Nassau Grouper are reproductive starting between 5-8 years old). Spawning was documented over three nights, starting five nights after February’s full moon.
To connect Caymanian students with the project, the team hosted live webcasts from the field with several classrooms. Students also participated in lessons about the ecological and social role of Nassau Grouper. A local news reporter, Joe Avary from Cayman27, also joined the team for several days and his extensive news stories provided coverage of the program to the public. You can check out the Cayman27 news coverage here.
The growing body of research findings from the Grouper Moon Project has supported science-based legislation passed by the Cayman government in 2016. Nevertheless, there is still much to be learned about Nassau Grouper, their spawning biology, and what components are critical to the species survival. One such question that our team is working on as we look forward is how the changing oceans and climate might impact the species. Based on our historical data, spawning tends to occur when the water temperature is 27.2 C, which is just under 81 degrees F. What will happen when global water temperatures increase over the next 100 years? Our team has been collecting eggs to determine how developing embryos and larvae may be affected by increased temperatures, UV light, and salinity. These experiments will provide a good understanding of how Nassau Grouper populations will react to a changing climate.
For more information, visit www.REEF.org/groupermoonproject to see links to videos and photos, and to read about the scientific publications and legislative actions that have been informed by our work.
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 Ron Wolfe, a member who lives in Hawaii. He joined REEF in 2016, and started conducting REEF surveys the following year. Since then, he has quickly advanced up the experience level ladder and is currently a Level 4 surveyor in the Hawaiian Islands (HAW) region. He has submitted 264 REEF surveys to date. Ron also goes above and beyond as a citizen scientist by teaching fish identification classes and actively engaging new surveyors.
Ron says,"Recognizing that the best way to reinforce learning is to teach someone else, and after having so much fun reviewing each dive survey with my dive buddy Dennis Bensen, I wanted to increase the pool of fellow REEF surveyors. Using REEF's Hawaii Fish ID Curricula, Dennis and I have set about recruiting students and holding classes. The synergy with Legacy Reef Foundation and Big Island Divers to create class opportunities has been very encouraging. It of course feels good to try to give something back to the dive community at large and REEF."
We're so thankful to have a dedicated and enthusiastic member like Ron! You can read more about his experience with REEF below.
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys?
I am a retired Forest Resource Manager from Southeast Alaska, where there is quite an interface between terrestrial and both freshwater and marine ecosystems. Natural resources have been a big part of my life for decades. The chance to expand this to the marine environment beyond Alaska is so very interesting and appealing. I’ve enjoyed fish identification since 1992 on a quasi-informal basis and the structure of REEF fish surveys has improved my fish identification abilities greatly. I really enjoy every survey on every dive.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF survey?
The most interesting thing about conducting fish surveys is the unpredictability of the ocean whether it be seeing a new exotic fish for the first time, one that I’ve not seen for some time, a shark, a monk seal or whatever the ocean has in store for us on each dive.
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey, where and what was your trip highlight?
I was on the REEF Trip aboard the Kona Aggressor here in Hawaii in February 2018. I really enjoyed meeting other volunteers and learning much from them. The highlight of the trip were two very outstanding new dive sites, Au Au Crater and Manuka Bay. These are too far enough south for the day boats to reach, and being on a liveaboard made it possible.
If you had to explain REEF to a friend in a couple of sentences, what would you tell them?
REEF is a multifaceted marine conservation organization that undertakes a variety of marine conservation projects in all our oceans. Perhaps the most unique is the powerful data collected from the Volunteer Fish Survey Project to provide information to the conservation, the public and the scientific communities.
Do you have any surveying, fish watching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Check your reference books after every dive to learn any new fish, learn something new about a fish that you’ve seen before, or just reinforce what you already know.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
Well, it depends on which page I am on in the fish book! I have many, but if I had to choose, I would pick the Hawaii Longfin Anthias because it is so rare, but not so rare I can never see it, and its absolute beauty.
You can contribute to REEF's conservation and education efforts while shopping for everyday items, through our newly launched Shop to Support program. By partnering with companies who care about the marine environment, we are able to spend more time on programs and less time fundraising! We sincerely appreciate the generous support of these partners.
It's simple to support REEF. Visit our Shop to Support page to view all participating businesses, and click on the links provided by our partners to shop online. When you make a purchase from one of these companies, a portion of the proceeds is donated to REEF.
Also, please don't forget to use AmazonSmile! AmazonSmile has the same products, prices and shopping features as Amazon, but when you purchase items through www.smile.amazon.com the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to a charity of your choice. You can designate "Reef Environmental Education Foundation" as your preferred organization.
Are you a business who wants to give back?
Today more than ever, consumers look for products that not only meet their immediate needs, but give back to the community. Merchandisers, restaurants, and service companies are looking for ways to attract this audience, who tend to become loyal customers. With REEF’s Cause Marketing Program, you can promote your business while increasing awareness of our ocean conservation work. To learn more and apply, click here.
Please note: REEF does not endorse and is not responsible for the quality or service of any of these businesses. We suggest you do your due diligence when you purchase a good or use their service.
Looking to take a citizen science dive trip in 2019? There are still spaces remaining on some REEF Field Survey Trips this year. Marine life enthusiasts are invited to join us for a vacation filled with diving, ocean education, and fun. For more information on any of the trips below, visit www.REEF.org/trips or contact trips@REEF.org.
Spaces are available on the following trips:
Cozumel, April 27-May 4
Belize, June 8-15
Roatan: June 22-29
Sea of Cortez: July 13-20
Bonaire: August 3-10
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua: August 24-31
Cayman Islands: Sept. 9-19
Solomon Islands: Oct. 30-Nov. 8
Turks and Caicos Islands: Dec. 14-21
Keep an eye out for the 2020 Field Survey Trips schedule, which is coming soon!
This month, REEF is proud to highlight one of our outstanding Conservation Partners: Scuba Center in Eagan, Minnesota. REEF Conservation Partners are active organizations and dive shops dedicated to protecting marine environments. As valued REEF ambassadors, they teach fish ID classes, host survey dives, organize volunteer events and more. Read on to find out how you can get involved with these centers of conservation action!
With more than 80 partners across the country and beyond, there are plenty of opportunities to engage! You can see the full listing of Conservation Partners or register your business or organization as a REEF Conservation Partner here: www.REEF.org/conservation-partners.
Scuba Center - Eagan, MN
Scuba Center has been teaching scuba diving classes since 1973 as Minnesota's first PADI 5 Star Training Facility and has grown to become the state's largest scuba diving school. Scuba Center has two physical locations - Eagan and Minneapolis. As an extremely active Conservation Partner who adds conservation efforts into many of their trips and shop programs, Scuba Center shares information about REEF, hosts monthly Fish Nights (sometimes livestreaming Fishinars!), and arranges a Lionfish Night each year, showing REEF-sanctioned lionfish presentations and demonstrating how to use lionfish removal equipment.
Conservation Actions - How can you get involved?
• Visit the shop to learn about REEF, attend a Fish Night, or sign up for one of their popular trips! Even though they are located far from the ocean, Scuba Center has a dedicated group of marine conservation enthusiasts who complete REEF surveys when they travel to dive.
• Attend a Fish Night! Fish Nights are free, fish-focused presentations, held on Wednesdays about once a month. Each Fish Night has a different topic, including content created by the Scuba Center staff or a REEF Fishinar screening. Fish Nights are open to everyone (divers, non-divers, friends, family, and kids) and there are usually snacks provided!
• Scuba Center has a very avid group of lionfish hunters who have turned a number of shop trips into their own personal lionfish derbies. On a recent trip to Belize, nine divers harvested more than 160 lionfish during the trip, including 119 on one day!
• Scuba Center also works with a scuba club at a local high school to introduce students and teachers to REEF The staff provides lessons on fish identification and teaches students how to conduct REEF surveys before their annual trip.
Why is conserving marine environments important to Scuba Center?
Scuba Center has been teaching diving in MN for more than 40 years. We can see the effects of pollution, runoff, trash, and invasive species in our local lakes where we do both training and fun dives. We still do a lot of local diving, but most of our divers also love to travel to dive to see the beautiful ocean environments all over the world. We want to protect those environments so we can continue to enjoy them and encourage new divers to get out there and experience them as well!
For more information, visit Scuba Center’s website or check them out on Facebook.
Fishinars are REEF's brand of fun, live, interactive webinars and anyone who wants to know more about ocean life is welcome to join. REEF’s upcoming schedule includes tools to help you build your fish identification skills, and a look into REEF’s newest project region – the Indian Ocean & Red Sea! Below are our upcoming sessions:
How to Use Online Resources to Build Your Fish ID Skills: Thursday, March 21, at 8pm EST
Tune in for an engaging lesson from guest presenters Carlos and Allison Estape, as they guide participants through an in-depth tutorial about which online fish ID resources are available for the Tropical Western Atlantic survey region, and how you can enhance your fish identification skills with these tools.
Interesting Fishes of Oman: Monday, April 1 at 8pm EST
REEF Director of Science, Christy Semmens, will teach you about some of the unique and interesting fish that you can find while diving in Oman - part of REEF’s newest project region, the Indian Ocean & Red Sea! This will be great preparation for surveyors attending the upcoming REEF Field Survey Trip to Oman, or those who are simply interested in learning about some new species!
All you need to participate in a Fishinar is a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone and an internet connection – no microphones or webcams are needed. You may watch alone or as a group. Fishinars are great events for dive club meetings or in classroom settings! To register for upcoming Fishinars, and view the full 2019 schedule, please visit www.REEF.org/fishinars.