Author: Janna Nichols, Citizen Science Program Manager
We are pleased to announce Rhoda Green as our 2020 REEF Volunteer of the Year. Rhoda lives in the Seattle area, and has been a REEF member since 2000. She is one of REEF's most active surveyors, having completed 1,210 surveys for the Volunteer Fish Survey Project.
Of those surveys, the majority have been done in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in Washington State. She has also done some surveys in Hawaii. Rhoda was also the first to conduct REEF surveys in the Seychelles, part of our Indian Ocean/Red Sea (IORS) region.
She is an Experience Level 5 surveyor in the Pacific Northwest and California, and a Level 2 surveyor in Hawaii. She conducted her 1,000th REEF survey in January 2019, making her a member of the Golden Hamlet Club.
Rhoda has been a member of the Pacific Northwest and California's Advanced Assessment Team (AAT) since 2006 and participated in fish survey projects in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
One of Rhoda's greatest strengths is her ability to teach and lead others. She has been teaching Pacific Northwest fish and invertebrate ID classes and is directly responsible for mentoring many divers who are now expert level REEF surveyors, as well as introducing the joy of fishwatching to many beginners. She has led classes and dives for the Great Annual Fish Count for many years.
She is well-recognized and respected as a leader in the Pacific Northwest dive community, is a scuba instructor, and a superb critter spotter. She has assisted author Dr. Greg Jensen in obtaining photographs for his book Beneath Pacific Tides - Subtidal Invertebrates of the West Coast.
A few years ago, Rhoda conceived a project monitoring Saltwater State Park's Marine Protected Area. She organized the project, obtained funding, gathered the divers who are members of REEF's Pacific Northwest AAT, and executed the project, which is ongoing.
Rhoda is also the leader for one of REEF's Conservation Partners: Friends of Saltwater State Park, a non-profit organization that supports the park through volunteer efforts. Projects include subtidal surveys, McSorley Creek salmonid surveys and upland improvements.
We are so grateful for Rhoda's enthusiasm and dedication to REEF and our mission. Congratulations, Rhoda!
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
The 2022 REEF Field Survey Trips schedule is available! 2022 REEF Trip destinations include Roatan, Bonaire, St. Lucia, and more. Other highlights are a liveaboard trip to Kona, Hawaii, our annual trip to Cozumel, and a trip to the muck diving capital of the Caribbean, St. Vincent. For those who like to plan ahead, there is also a sneak peek at what's in store for 2023. Looking to travel later this year? We have a few trips on the schedule with space in 2021, including Gardens of the Queen in Cuba, St. Croix, The Bahamas, and Cayman Brac. Start dusting off your scuba and snorkel gear!
REEF Trips are led by marine life experts, and include diving, seminars about fish identification, and plenty of fun with friends. Not a scuba diver? No problem.Snorkelers are welcome on REEF Trips. Some destinations may be better suited for snorkeling than others; please see trip webpages and/or inquire for more information.
Ready to book? Send an email to trips@REEF.org. We'll send you an invoice to submit a deposit to secure your space. For individual trip details and more info, please visit the links below. Click here to view our Policies. More questions? Visit our FAQs page.
Feb. 5 - 12 -- St. Vincent -- Dive St. Vincent & Sunset Shores Hotel - Click here for trip details
March 12 - 19 -- Gardens of the Queen, Cuba -- Jardines Avalon II Liveaboard - Click here for trip details
April 11 - 23 -- Indonesia -- Blue Manta Liveaboard - Sold out - Click here for trip details
May 7 - 14 -- St. Lucia -- Anse Chastanet Resort - Click here for trip details
June 4 - 11-- Roatan -- CoCo View Resort - Click here for trip details
July 28 - August 7 -- Red Sea, Egypt-- Grand Sea Explorer Liveaboard - Sold out - Click here for trip details
Aug. 20 - 27 -- Kona, Hawaii -- Kona Aggressor II Liveaboard - Click here for trip details
Sept. 24 - Oct. 6 -- Sea of Cortez - Explore Baja Itinerary -- Rocio del Mar Liveaboard - Sold out - Click here for trip details
Oct. 1 - 8 -- Grand Cayman -- Sunset House - Click here for trip details
Nov. 5 - 12 -- Bonaire -- Buddy Dive Resort - Click here for trip details
Dec. 3- 10 -- Cozumel -- Chili Charters & Safari Inn/Casa Mexicana - Click here for trip details
Please note: Trips listed as "sold out" were either rescheduled due to COVID-19, or were announced prior to 2021. Waitlists are available for all sold out trips.
2023 REEF Field Survey Trips Preview
Date TBA - Likely March -- Fiji -- NAI'A Liveaboard - Full details coming soon
Date TBA - Likely May -- Solomon Islands -- M/V Bilikiki Liveaboard - Full details coming soon
Aug. 5 - 13 -- Dumaguete, Phiippines -- Atlantis Dumaguete Resort - Click here for trip details
Sept. 29 - Oct. 6 -- Sea of Cortez - Southern Safari Itinerary -- Rocio del Mar Liveaboard - Click here for trip details
Can't wait until next year? The following 2021 REEF Field Survey Trips have limited space remaining:
June 6- 16 -- Palau -- Rock Islands Aggressor Liveaboard - Click here for trip details
June 19 - 26 -- San Salvador, The Bahamas -- Riding Rock Resort & Marina - Click here for trip details
July 3 - 10 -- St. Eustatius -- Scubaqua & The Old Gin House - Click here for trip details
July 24 - 31 -- Gardens of the Queen, Cuba -- Jardines Avalon II Liveaboard - Click here for trip details
Oct. 2 - 9 -- Cayman Brac -- Cayman Brac Beach Resort - Click here for trip details
Nov. 6 - 13 -- St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands -- St. Croix Ultimate Bluewater Adventures & The Company House Hotel - Click here for trip details
Dec 4 - 11 -- Cozumel -- Chili Charters & Safari Inn/Casa Mexicana - Click here for trip details
To find out more or to book your space, contact us at trips@REEF.org. Visit the links above for full trip details. We hope to see you on a REEF Field Survey Trip in the future!
Author: Madalyn Mussey, Education and Outreach Program Manager
Registration is open for the second annual Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K! From June 7-13, 2021, we're encouraging ocean enthusiasts everywhere to get moving in the name of conservation. You can choose to run, walk, hike, bike, or even swim, completing the 5K (3.1 miles) in one day or throughout the week. No matter how you participate, it’s great way to get active in your community while making your miles count. Last year, nearly 500 people joined in our inaugural 5K, and we're hoping to increase that number this year.
Fish Out of Water 5K participants will choose to join one of five Fish Teams. Each team represents an iconic fish species monitored by citizen scientists through REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project. Participants may report their 5K times if desired; after the race each team’s results will be shared. Those who wish to join as a group can form a Fish Shoal with friends and family.
Registration starts at $35 per person and will increase to $45 after April 30. Two registration packages are available. The Starting Line package includes a limited-edition shirt, finishers’ medal, and race bib. Those who choose to upgrade to the Finish Line package will receive a shirt, medal, and bib, plus a retro fanny pack and sticker set. Registration is open until May 28. Supplies are limited, so early registration is highly encouraged.
Fish Out of Water 5K proceeds support REEF’s "Oceans for All Fund." This fund provides ocean-focused educational opportunities for underserved communities and those with financial need; allowing REEF to increase inclusive programming for populations traditionally underrepresented in science, diving, and conservation. If you are interested in going the extra mile, you can choose to become an Ocean All-Star by adding an optional donation to your registration fee. Don't wait to sign up - join us and register for the Fish Out of Water 5K today! Visit www.REEF.org/5Krace for more info and registration.
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
Mark your calendar and plan to join us later this year for our annual in-person events, including:
Florida Keys Lionfish Derby & Festival: Sept. 9-12, 2021 in Islamorada, Florida: This 12th Annual Lionfish Derby will include two full days of fishing culminating in a festival at picturesque Postcard Inn Resort & Marina. The festival is open to the public and will include lionfish scoring, fillet and dissection demos, lionfish tastings, games, crafts, raffle prizes and booths from environmentally-focused vendors. Derby team registration is coming soon. Visit www.REEF.org/derby for more information.
REEF Fest: Oct 14-17, 2021 in Key Largo, Florida: Don't miss this four-day celebration of marine conservation! Events include diving, snorkeling, ocean-themed seminars, and socials. We are currently confirming details and anticipate opening registration in June. For now, please save the date and keep an eye on www.REEF.org/REEFfest for more information.
REEF continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will communicate about modifications to these event(s) if/when it becomes necessary.
Author: Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., Co-Executive Director: Science & Engagement
New findings from the Grouper Moon Project reveal how technology can advance our understanding of changes in fish spawning aggregations due to conservation actions. The paper, published this year in ICES Journal of Marine Science, presents size data collected over a 17-year period at the Nassau Grouper spawning aggregation on Little Cayman. Fish usually need to be caught to be measured, but scientists from the Grouper Moon Project have used video camera systems to collect an impressive dataset on Nassau Grouper lengths. The authors combined these data with information on growth and abundance to produce a comprehensive assessment of Nassau Grouper on Little Cayman. Findings from this work revealed that Nassau Grouper recovered on Little Cayman largely thanks to exceptionally strong recruitment from the 2011 spawning season. Length data from Cayman Brac also showed signs of a strong 2011 year class, and substantial improvement in population status in recent years. The study and findings demonstrate that video camera systems can be an effective part of monitoring protected fish spawning aggregations.
The full citation of the paper is:
Stock BC, Heppell SA, Waterhouse L, Dove IC, Pattengill-Semmens CV, McCoy CM, Bush PG, Ebanks-Petrie G, and Semmens BX. 2021. Pulse recruitment and recovery of Cayman Islands Nassau Grouper (Epinephelus striatus) spawning aggregations revealed by in situ length-frequency data. ICES Journal of Marine Science. doi:10.1093/icesjms/fsaa221
To see a complete listing of all scientific publications and reports that include data and findings from REEF's projects, visit www.REEF.org/db/publications.
Author: Maddi Piascik, Events & Communications Lead Intern
Be sure to check out REEF’s online programs to help keep you engaged in marine conservation from home. Here's what is coming up:
Fishinar: Common Fishes of the Western Indian Ocean
Thursday, March 25 at 8PM EDT
Christy Semmens will be teaching about common fish species seen in the Western Indian Ocean and how to identify them.
Fishy Hour: Fishy Game Night
Wednesday, April 7 at 8PM EDT
Join our Spring 2021 Marine Conservation Interns for a fun, Tropical Western Atlantic fish-themed game night.
Fishinar: Butterflyfishes of Hawaii
Wednesday, April 21 at 8PM EDT
Many of Hawaii's colorful underwater residents belong to the Butterflyfish family. Learn how to tell them apart during this session led by Amy Lee.
Author: Maddi Piascik, Events & Communications Lead Intern
Calling all lionfish hunters! The 2021 REEF Lionfish Derby Series will kick off with the 8th Annual "Locals" Lionfish Derby on April 23-25 in Key Largo. This Earth Day Lionfish Derby will allow participants to practice social distancing while encouraging the removal of invasive lionfish from Florida Keys waters.
Teams of two to four people may register online here. Registration is $75 per team through April 10 and $100 per team through April 23. A mandatory Captains’ Meeting will be held virtually on Friday, April 23. Derby participants may hunt for lionfish from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, April 24. Fishing is permitted throughout the waters of Monroe County, Florida only. There will be a contactless drop-off station at the REEF Campus in Key Largo. Drop off times are scheduled on Saturday, April 24 from 4-7PM and Sunday, April 25 from 7-10AM. All fish must be dropped off by 10AM on Sunday.
Cash prizes will be awarded to the teams who harvest the most, largest, and smallest lionfish. Upon registration, teams may choose to compete in two divisions for the Most Lionfish category: Apex Predators (more competitive, higher prize money) or Reef Defenders (more casual, lower prize money). Don’t have a boat? Local dive charters are available through Rainbow Reef Dive Center, Pirates Cove Watersports, and Islamorada Dive Center. Interested participants should contact local dive shops directly to book dives.
For information, visit www.REEF.org/derby. To connect with other participants or communicate with divers to form a team, join the Earth Day Lionfish Derby Facebook event.
Author: Maddi Piascik, Events & Communications Lead Intern
REEF is proud to highlight one of our outstanding Conservation Partners: Scuba St. Lucia at Anse Chastanet Resort. REEF Conservation Partners are active organizations and dive shops committed to protecting marine environments worldwide. As valued REEF ambassadors, they serve as centers for marine conservation actions, outreach, and education. You can view the full listing of Conservation Partners or register your organization as a REEF Conservation Partner here.
In what ways does Scuba St. Lucia participate with REEF’s main programs?
For more than 10 years, Scuba St. Lucia has hosted REEF Field Survey Trips and taught REEF Fish ID classes for divers and snorkelers. They encourage their divers to participate in REEF's Volunteer Fish Survey Project by conducting and submitting surveys. As part of the Invasive Lionfish Tracker Specialty course, Scuba St. Lucia organizes weekly lionfish removal dives with staff and guests, and encourages guests to sign up for the “Eat them to beat them” program that offers them the chance to experience a five-course gourmet lionfish dinner. The consulting chef for both Anse Chastanet Resort and Jade Mountain has released a sustainable lionfish cookbook Green Fig and Lionfish which was written and photographed in St. Lucia.
What other actions do you take to promote marine conservation?
In 2017, Scuba St. Lucia established a coral nursery program to plant coral back onto St. Lucia's reef. They are a proud recipient of the PADI Green Star™ Dive Center Award which is granted to PADI Dive Centers and Resorts that care about the environment and are acting to protect it. They conduct underwater and beach clean-ups and actively promote the Dive Again Debris Specialty course. They also encourage divers and snorkelers who visit to learn about and protect the marine environment.
How can REEF members get involved with your dive shop/organization?
Come for a stay at the beautiful Anse Chastanet Resort and take part in all of the activities that Scuba St. Lucia offers on land and underwater. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @scubastlucia.
Author: The REEF Team
Introducing our March 2021 Fish of the Month, the comical and adorably plump Spiny Lumpsucker!
Survey Regions: Spiny Lumpsuckers are found in temperate to cold waters. The Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker, Eumicrotremus orbis, is found in REEF's Pacific Coast (PAC) survey region. The Atlantic Spiny Lumpsucker, Eumicrotremus spinosus, is found in REEF's Northeast US and Canada (NE) survey region. Check out the species distribution reports here: Atlantic Spiny Lumpsucker - Northeast US and Canada (NE) and Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker - Pacific Coast (PAC). Atlantic Spiny Lumpsuckers are also found in the northern reaches of the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (EAM) region, but have not yet been reported in the REEF database in this region.
Size: These small fish measure only 1-3 inches in length.
Identifying Features: Spiny Lumpsuckers are spherical and come in a variety of colors including yellow, orange, green, purple or brown. Their bodies are covered in spiny plate-like structures called tubercules. Their pelvic fins have evolved into a suction cup-like disc, allowing them to anchor themselves to objects like rocks, kelp, and eelgrass.
Fun Facts: Spiny Lumpsuckers are in the family Cyclopteridae, a group of nearly 30 cold-water dwelling fish species; including both the Pacific and Atlantic Spiny Lumpsuckers, as well the Smooth Lumpsucker and even larger fish like the Lumpfish. If you like this fish, you can join the Spiny Lumpsucker Team when you sign up for REEF's Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K! Click here to learn more.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for our next Fish of the Month!
[Photos by Ed Gullekson (Pacific) and Andrew Martinez (Atlantic)]