As the holiday season approaches, we are preparing to kick off our annual winter fundraising campaign. Please keep REEF in mind as you think about your year-end giving. We rely on donors like you to support our conservation work, and our successes and impact are tied directly to you, our members. Donors who give at least $250 during the winter solicitation receive a limited-edition, signed and numbered print, photographed by our co-founder, Paul Humann. Each year, we carefully choose a new photo from Paul's personal underwater photography library. The 2017 print featured schooling Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks in the Galapagos Islands, and we have selected this year's image to align with 25th anniversary of the Volunteer Fish Survey Project, serving as a tribute to the effort and dedication of REEF citizen scientists worldwide. Watch your inbox on Nov. 27, Giving Tuesday 2018, for a special message and the first look at this year's print! We are so thankful for your support during our upcoming winter fundraising campaign and look forward to sharing this exciting Giving Tuesday annoucement with you soon.
September was an exciting month for members of the Pacific Northwest REEF Advanced Assessment Team (AAT), led by REEF's Citizen Science Program Manager Janna Nichols. This group of expert level surveyors (Levels 4 and 5) helped with the ongoing monitoring project done in partnership with UC Davis' SeaDoc Society in Washington's San Juan Islands.
Sixteen REEF volunteer divers surveyed select sites of varying habitat types (from vertical walls, to rocky reefs, to sandy/silty areas as well as kelp forests) throughout the San Juan Islands during the week-long project, accumulating almost 100 surveys. This is the 6th year of the project. We had beautiful weather and calm sea conditions.
Ever since the sea stars died off a few years ago, urchin populations have grown substantially and are taking a toll on the bull kelp forests found in this area. Because REEF divers monitor both fish and invertebrates in the Pacific Northwest, these important changes are being documented.
This long-term monitoring project helps ensure data are available to document shifts and changes in populations and community structure as well as cataloging biological diversity. REEF data from the Pacific Northwest region been used in nine scientific publications and have been incorporated in several policy decisions on species from rockfish to octopus.
We extend a huge thanks to the following REEF surveyors who made these projects possible: Doug Biffard, Laura Tesler, Doug Miller, Karin Fletcher, Ed Gullekson, David Todd, Josh Sera, Lorne Curran, Greg Jensen, Rhoda Green, Tom Nicodemus, Claude Nichols, Joe Gaydos, Chuck Curry and Ellie Place. Also a big thanks to Rick and Jackie Myers of Bandito Charters and University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs for field support.
REEF members are the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. Divers, snorkelers, and ocean enthusiasts worldwide stand behind our mission.
This month we highlight Callie Mack, who has been a REEF member since 2011. She is level 5 expert surveyor on the U.S. west coast in the PAC region, and has submitted nearly 400 surveys. Callie lives in San Diego, where she enjoys diving the nearby kelp beds and rocky reefs to search for interesting invertebrates and fish.
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
I joined in 2011. I’d wanted to learn our local fishes and invertebrates, so I took one of Herb Gruenhagen’s REEF fish and invertebrate ID classes, loved it, passed the quiz to become a level 2, and started surveying!
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey Trip, where and what was your trip highlight?
I’ve been on a couple of REEF Trips, and every dive was a highlight! I don’t dive the tropics very often, so I’m enthralled by just about everything I see. It’s hard to survey when I’m distracted by yet another gorgeous fish!
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys?
I really wanted to be a marine biologist when I was a kid (The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau was an inspiration), but my education went in a bit of a different direction. I feel like surveying has brought me a little closer to that childhood dream. I enjoy the idea of contributing information that can be used by scientists in assessing the health of our oceans. Surveying makes every dive or snorkel like an underwater treasure hunt.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
Doing surveys here in San Diego, it’s been interesting to see the various species that have migrated north and now appear off La Jolla and in Mission Bay. Ocean temperatures have risen recently, so we’re seeing species like largemouth blennies and pufferfish that are normally seen farther south in Mexico. These species are fun to see, but are they a harbinger of permanent warming? Will some of our local species disappear from our waters? Perhaps future surveys will give us some answers.
What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
I really appreciate the various educational resources available through REEF: the Fishinars (which are great fun, and I’m so glad they’re archived), photo galleries, quizzes, and the “live” classes at REEF field stations (which we’re lucky to have available in San Diego.) When I went to REEF Fest this September, using all those study resources really paid off, and I was able to easily ID quite a few of the local fish.
If you had to explain REEF to a friend in a couple of sentences, what would you tell them?
REEF is an organization that uses ordinary divers and snorkelers like us – citizen scientists – to collect data that helps trained scientists assess the health of our oceans. If you want to learn about your local marine life and participate in marine conservation on every dive or snorkel, REEF can help you to do that!
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs?
They give the public a chance to participate in marine science in a way that acquaints them intimately with ocean life and allows them to make a credible contribution to marine conservation. It’s very satisfying to see our data used in legitimate scientific papers and projects. REEF’s educational and research programs make its members care more about the ocean – after all, we humans are more inclined to protect what we know and love.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
It’s hard to have a favorite, because I like so many! I love Pacific Green Morays, Giant Sea Bass and Two-spot Octopus. But I think my very favorite is a tube blenny called the Sarcastic Fringehead. Its big downturned mouth makes it look like Grumpy Cat, and when I see one, I can almost hear it making snarky comments about my buoyancy skills and how I look in my wetsuit.
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
If you’re brand-new to diving and you don’t want to multitask by surveying before you get a few dives under your belt, go online and use REEF’s resources to learn your fish (and invertebrates if it applies.) Take a few fishinars! Carry a camera and take pics of “mystery fish." Purchase a good fish ID book so you can look up anything you weren’t sure about. The Humann/DeLoach books are terrific and available on REEF’s website. Carry those REEF laminated ID cards with you on boat trips. I almost always get asked about fish when I’m on local dive boats, and it’s a good opportunity to share knowledge and introduce other divers to REEF.
On October 2-4, REEF’s Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Dr. Alli Candelmo, and Environmental Leadership Intern, Sophie Costa, joined regional researchers, invasive species managers, divers, and ocean conservationists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission 2018 Lionfish Summit. The summit addressed three main themes: Policy & Regulation, Control Efforts/Research & Monitoring and Education & Outreach. Alli presented as an invited speaker on the trends of ten years of REEF lionfish derbies and lionfish movement patterns and the application to improving removal efforts. The summit included facilitated discussions which focus on current and future research and management strategies in controlling the lionfish invasion.
REEF is once again facilitating an Invasive Lionfish Panel at the DEMA Show 2018 in Las Vegas on Saturday, Nov. 17. The panel, "DEMA Lionfish Update: Invasive Lionfish — Future Directions in Research, Management and Control," will include esteemed panelists to discuss the latest invasive lionfish issues including innovations driving future directions for the dive industry, fishing communities, and markets. Discussions will focus on how to continue to engage divers and the public in participating in removal efforts and derbies and what information managers and scientist can provide to help improve these efforts. There will be a free raffle for fabulous prizes including: a Mares Puck Wrist dive computer, 2 DIY Zookeeper kits (not available yet in the US: this will be its premier) and 2 Lionator pole spears. Thank you to Jon Wilkins, Allie ElHage, and Walt Deelman for the donations.
The end of the year is fast approaching, but there's still time to take a dive trip in 2018! Space is very limited on our remaining 2018 trips - in fact, there are only two spaces remaining on next month's trip to the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Caribbean Explorer II liveaboard. Beginning in St. Kitts on Dec. 1 and ending in St. Maarten on Dec. 8, this trip includes plenty of diving around the islands of the northeastern Caribbean. The goal of the trip will be to collect survey data for REEF's Volunteer Fish Survey Project, and daily fish identification classes will be offered to help you expand your knowledge of Tropical Western Atlantic fish ID. No prior surveying experience is necessary to join a REEF Field Survey Trip. Beginner, intermediate, and advanced surveyors are welcome! For more information about the trip, visit this page or contact trips@REEF.org.
You can also check out the 2019 Field Survey Trips schedule here.
There are many ways you can choose to support REEF, through a generous monetary donation, attending one of our events, or shopping to support REEF. As you look forward to the upcoming holidays, make sure you check out our online store. We have many new products, including trendy sustainable items like tie-dye Silipints and metal straws, plus all of your favorite REEF gear, ID guidebooks, and REEF surveying supplies. Stay tuned for our holiday packages, where you will be sure to find a gift for anyone.
When we think about climate change, habitat destruction, and the many other challenges our oceans are currently facing, it’s easy to question how to make an impact. The answer is that together we can make a positive difference. For 25 years, REEF has worked to protect biodiversity and ocean life, through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. REEF is regarded as one of the most effective and efficient marine data collection and conservation organizations in the world.
How can you engage? There are multiple ways. We always welcome your involvement in our citizen science fish survey efforts. You can also volunteer your time in other ways – just ask! Another option is to support REEF financially. Our goal is to help our donors make a long-term impact on ocean conservation through philanthropy and naming opportunities. Your gift can be immediate or through estate planning.
Don’t Wait to Leave Your Legacy
Several of our present and past board of trustees and individual members have already included REEF in their estate plans. These gifts transform the organization and elevate our programs.
These wonderful philanthropic expressions are often made by donors through wills or living trusts. REEF works with individuals, families, and businesses to create personal, permanent, and powerful legacies.
Planned Giving Opportunities That Ensure REEF’s Mission Continues
REEF’s Planned Giving Program provides you with a broad range of opportunities to provide lasting support of our mission through charitable contributions that are incorporated into your financial, tax or estate plan.
The benefits of planned giving can include:
- Immediate tax relief through an income tax charitable deduction
- Annual income for life or for a period of years
- Reduction or elimination of capital gains taxes on transfer of long-term appreciated assets
- Reduction of estate taxes
- Transfer assets to heirs at reduced tax rates
Some gifts allow you to receive income for the rest of your life, and most gifts provide a variety of tax benefits such as tax-free income, avoidance of capital gains tax, increased charitable contributions deduction and potential estate-tax savings. The choice you make will depend on the goals for yourself, your family and your overall estate and financial plans.
Your long-term commitment to REEF allows us to plan, implement, and respond to the changing needs of our marine environment. With your legacy gift, REEF can capitalize on our growing success and momentum, ensuring that our important marine conservation work continues for generations to come.
Beyond providing unrestricted support in areas of greatest need, your gift can make a difference for a specific REEF program or initiative, such as ground-breaking research, education initiatives, or citizen science programs.
REEF’s tagline, Explore. Discover. Make a Difference., epitomizes the active stewardship role that citizens play in world-changing conservation. We hope you will honor our work with your legacy.
Our development manager Bonnie Barnes is happy to talk to you about planned giving options, and we encourage you to speak with your own financial advisor about the best choice for you and your family. Click here to learn more, and download our “Letter of Intent” form.