The health of our oceans impacts us all, and now more than ever, it is important to take action. We know you care about this cause, and that is why we are asking you to support REEF with your year-end gift so that we can continue to make a difference. So many of you gave earlier this week on Giving Tuesday. Thank you! If you haven't yet donated, please consider making a tax-deductible gift today.
Donors of $250 or more will receive a limited-edition, signed, and numbered print of schooling Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks that I took in the Galapagos Islands. These sharks play a critical role in the ecosystem as a top predator, and unfortunately are threatened due to overfishing. But REEF is working to make a difference in the health of our oceans! This past May, REEF citizen scientist volunteers spent a week surveying the unique marine habitats of the Galapagos Islands, conducting more than 200 marine life surveys. These surveys generated valuable data that will allow resource managers to make informed decisions about how to protect ocean life in this special place.
When you support REEF, you are protecting biodiversity and making an investment in the health of our oceans. Since 1993, REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project has collected valuable data, generating the largest marine life sightings database in the world, with over 225,000 fish surveys to date. This long-term project provides valuable information about changes to marine environments.
The delicate balance of our ocean ecosystems can easily be disrupted. Beyond the database generated by our citizen science work, REEF also works to combat the detrimental impacts of invasive species, like lionfish, and protect endangered species, like Nassau Grouper.
Your support during this season allows us to fulfill our mission of conserving marine environments worldwide. Thank you for being a part of REEF, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Click here to donate.
We are excited to share the latest publication stemming from REEF's Invasive Lionfish Research Program - "Mobilizing volunteers to sustain local suppression of a global marine invasion," recently published in the scientific journal Conservation Letters.
The study, authored by Dr. Stephanie Green of Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Studies, and Elizabeth Underwood and Lad Akins of REEF, is the first to document the effectiveness of volunteer-based removal efforts of invasive species. The article focuses specifically on removals of invasive lionfish in the Tropical Western Atlantic and answers several important questions including what percentage of the lionfish population is removed and how large of an area can be affected by a lionfish derby event. Surveys in Florida and the Bahamas were conducted at more than 60 different sites both before and after derby events from 2012 – 2014. Results showed that single day derbies conducted during this time period were, on average, able to reduce lionfish densities by 52% over 192 km2.
To view the full paper and to see a complete listing of the over 60 scientific publications that have used REEF data and programs, visit www.REEF.org/db/publications. The full citation of the paper is: Green, SJ, E Underwood, and JL Akins. 2017. Mobilizing volunteers to sustain local suppression of a global marine invasion. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12426.
REEF members are at the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. Over 60,000 divers, snorkelers, students, and armchair naturalists stand behind our mission.
This month we highlight Mindy Gould, member since 1997 (20 years!). Mindy has conducted 121 surveys, in both the western tropical Pacific and the Tropical Western Atlantic. Here's what Mindy had to say about REEF:
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF? I joined in the early 1990’s and went on my first survey trip to Saba in 2011. I’ve now been on seven more REEF trips (San Salvador, Cozumel (twice), Utila, Nevis, Philippines, and Solomon Islands). I’m still a wage slave, so I save up vacation days and try to do at least 1 trip per year.
What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
My “first” favorite part is meeting incredible REEF members on survey trips and then diving with them again and again. Whatever we do in “real life,” when we’re surveying, there’s a shared energy, fascination and commitment to submitting quality data that furthers the knowledge base. Everyone dives with a purpose and there’s nothing more exhilarating than sharing in someone’s unique sighting.
My “second” favorite part of REEF is spreading the word to other divers about becoming citizen scientists and how important collecting data is to understanding and conserving the ocean environment. For several years, I have volunteered at the REEF booth for Our World Underwater in Chicago and there’s nothing like telling someone about REEF and hearing them say: “I’ve been looking for something like this; sign me up.”
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs? I’m especially glad that REEF’s work is grounded in scientific principles and reproducible results. In this age of skepticism and challenge to even the fundamentals of science, REEF’s survey program stands out as critical to a myriad number of research projects (Grouper Moon, invasive species). It’s gratifying to see when REEF data is used in research around the world.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced? It’s got to be diving in the Galapagos with whale sharks, hundreds of hammerheads and the cranky, little red-lipped batfish. As an environmental scientist with a fascination for evolution, the Galapagos is like traveling to the motherland.
What is your most memorable fish find? While diving in Cuba last summer, I came across a Golden Fairy Basslet (Gramma dejongi). I didn’t know what it was but I knew it was unlike any basslet I’d seen before. It wasn’t a REEF trip and my dive buddy, Judy, wasn’t around to corroborate, so I snapped pictures as fast as I could. The book says they’re rare to uncommon, so I was pretty stoked to have spotted it. As you can imagine, the divemaster didn’t share my excitement as he herded me back to the group.
As 2017 comes to a close, we are excited to be establishing a formal Planned Giving Program at REEF. Over the years, we have received several legacy gifts, which have been used to fund programs, acquire property, and provide opportunities to conduct important research projects. Estate gifts transform our organization and are an excellent way of creating a lasting memorial.
We are honored that Board of Trustee members, Ned and Anna DeLoach, have included REEF in their giving plans.
“As Ned and I set out to plan our estate, we wanted to be sure to not only provide for our children’s future needs, but also to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization we helped form, Reef Environmental Education Foundation.
We cannot begin to describe the many personal relationships we have cultivated, the adventures we have experienced, and the accomplishments we’ve witnessed, as we helped REEF grow and prosper. So, when it came down to creating our legacy, it was only natural that we chose to include REEF in our estate plan.”
-Ned & Anna DeLoach
Please let us know if you’ve included us in your planning, or call Bonnie Barnes at 305-852-0030 to discuss how you might do this. Charitable bequests can reduce taxes and help you benefit your family and others through your will or living trust. For more information, visit our Planned Giving page.
Are you a diver or snorkeler looking to make a difference in the health of our oceans? If you haven't already, we hope you will make plans to join us on a REEF Trip in 2018. We have a great lineup of trips and a few spaces remain. You will participate in our citizen science programs, dive with like-minded individuals, and learn about the marine life around you. The full 2018 schedule is online (and keep an eye out for the 2019 schedule to be released this spring).
Here are 2018 trips that still have space:
Grenada, May 12-19, 2018 - More details
Bahamas Lionfish Research Trip, May 26 - June 2, 2018 - More details
Key Largo for REEF's 25th Anniversary, June 23-30, 2018 - More details
Costa Rica Land and Sea Eco-tour, July 14-21, 2018 - More details
Belize Research Expedition, August 18-25, 2018 - More details
Cuba Gardens of the Queen, August 18-25, 2018 - More details
St. Lucia, September 23-30, 2018 - More details
Eastern Caribbean, December 1-8, 2018 - More details
Cozumel, December 1-8, 2018 - More details
We maintain wait lists for full trips, so be sure to let us know if your desired destination is full. 2018 Trips that are already full: Hawaii, Thailand, Fiji, Brazil, Philippines, Cayman Brac, and Maldives.
When you shop under the Amazon Smile program designating REEF as your chosen non-profit, Amazon donates a portion of your purchase to us. The latest quarterly donation from the Amazon Smile program has put $184.78 into REEF's account - and it just keeps growing (the previous quarter we received $155.02) as more of you participate in joining this easy way to give to REEF. Bookmark this link as your starting point for your Amazon shopping and feel good about your purchases knowing their helping to support REEF's conservation programs: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/65-0270064. Happy Holidays!