Author: The REEF Team
We are thrilled to share that we have reached our 2019 summer matching goal - to raise $70,000 to support REEF's citizen science, education, and research programs! So many REEF members stepped up to show their support for marine conservation, and we are so appreciative of your outstanding efforts. From all of us at REEF, thank you to everyone who contributed to our summer fundraising campaign, and a special thank you to the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, The Henry Foundation, and The Meyer Foundation who generously matched these gifts.
Your support goes a long way, and enables us to promote citizen science as a means to explore our oceans, continue pioneering research for critically endangered Nassau Grouper, conduct research and outreach to combat the spread of invasive species like lionfish, and educate ocean stewards through summer camps, internships, and hands-on programs.
Thank you again to everyone who donated this summer - together we are making a difference!
Author: Amy Lee, Trips Program and Communications Manager
We are very excited to share that REEF Trustees and renowned ocean storytellers Ned and Anna DeLoach will be introducing the much-awaited 2nd edition of their book, Reef Fish Behavior - Florida Caribbean Bahamas during REEF Fest 2019!
On Friday, Oct. 18, Ned and Anna will present a seminar titled "Reef Fish Behavior, 2nd Edition: Twenty joy-filled years in the making" starting at 4:30 pm at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. In addition, REEF Fest attendees will have a unique opportunity to purchase a signed copy of the new, updated, and enlarged 2nd edition during two special booking signing events throughout the weekend. These book signing events are the only way to purchase a copy of the book before its release later this year!
The book retails for $49.95 plus tax. A limited number of copies will be available for purchase during two book signing events:
• Friday, Oct. 18: 6:30-9:00 pm at REEF Headquarters (98300 Overseas Hwy. in Key Largo) during REEF Fest Open House
• Saturday, Oct. 19: 1:30-2:30 pm at Murray Nelson Government Center (102500 Overseas Hwy. in Key Largo)
Reef Fish Behavior presents an overview of what is presently known about the nature of reef fishes for recreational divers, underwater naturalists, photographers, and budding marine biologists. It is also meant to serve as a companion reference to Reef Fish Identification – Florida Caribbean Bahamas 4th edition. The 448-page book includes 588 photos and emphasizes reef fish life cycles, reproduction, cleaning symbiosis, colors & camouflage, senses and sound communications, and marine wildlife management, plus 17 fish family overviews. Ned and Anna have traveled to 20 destinations in Florida, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean to gather information for the new edition of the book. The majority of their underwater time was spent in Bonaire photographing fish behavior daily for months at a time.
Since the publication of the first edition exactly 20 years ago, notable advances in science have lead to greater understanding of reef fish behavior. DNA markers for tracking fish larvae have helped our understanding of larval transport and its crucial role establishing and maintaining reef fish communities. Lab and field studies in the Pacific have revealed a more complex relationship between species in cleaning behavior. Scientific studies and local conservation efforts in the Cayman Islands and Belize have also yielded new information on grouper and snapper spawning aggregations.
Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach, owners of New World Publications and founders of REEF, have photographed, authored and published more than a dozen field guides for marine life identification around the world.
REEF Fest 2019 is sponsored by Capital Bank Foundation. REEF Fest is open to the public and most events are free to attend, but pre-registration is requested. Visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest for more information.
Author: Amy Lee, Trips Program and Communications Manager
Have you marked your calendar for REEF Fest? REEF Fest 2019 sponsored by Capital Bank Foundation is coming up on Oct. 17-20 in Key Largo, Florida! This annual four-day celebration includes educational ocean-themed seminars, social gatherings, diving, and eco-adventures alongside some of the most prestigious names in diving and marine conservation. All REEF Fest events are open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. You can view the schedule of event for REEF Fest here: www.REEF.org/REEFfest/schedule.
Diving and snorkeling trips are offered on the mornings of Oct. 18 and 19 with our REEF Fest dive partners: Amy Slate's Amoray Dive Resort, Quiescence Diving Services, Key Dives, and Horizon Divers. Space is limited, so make your reservations as soon as possible. There's no need to call a dive shop to book your space - you can register for REEF Fest diving online at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/diving.
In addition to our REEF Fest fish survey dive charters, on the morning of Oct. 19, we are offering a special lionfish hunting charter for 4 divers, generously sponsored by Forever Young Charter Company in Islamorada. Space is limited on this unique dive trip. If interested, visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/diving/lionfish for more information.
Not a diver or snorkeler, but still want to get out on the water? We have partnered with Florida Bay Outfitters to offer kayaking eco-tours on the mornings of Oct. 18 and 19 as well. For more information or to register, visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/ecotour.
Don’t forget to purchase your ticket to 'For the Love of the Sea' Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 19, sponsored by the Carrow Foundation. Visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/dinnerticket to purchase your ticket today. Tickets include hors d'oeuvres, a three-course meal, open bar with liquor, wine, and local craft beer provided by Florida Keys Brewing Company; alongside live music and a silent auction featuring artwork and dive vacation packages including a 7-night Philippines vacation courtesy of Atlantis Dive Resorts and Liveaboards. You can also view the other REEF Fest social events here: www.REEF.org/REEFfest/social.
We are especially excited about this year's lineup of seminar speakers, listed below. View all the details of our ocean-themed REEF Fest seminar series at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/seminars.
Thursday, Oct. 17, 7:30 pm: “The Future for Sea Turtles on a Warming Planet" presented by Selina Heppell, Ph.D., Professor, Oregon State University
Friday, Oct. 18, 2:30 pm: "Fishwatchers’ Notebook: Stories and images of great finds and fun adventures” presented by Jeff Haines and Carol Cox
3:30 pm: “The Power of Marine Citizen Science” presented by Ben Holt, Ph.D., Director of the Rock Pool Project
4:30 pm: “Reef Fish Behavior, 2nd Edition: Twenty joy-filled years in the making” presented by Ned and Anna DeLoach, REEF Trustees, Co-founders, and Renowned Underwater Photographer and Videographer
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2:30 pm: “Blooms of Blue-green Algae in South Florida: Ecological causes and human health consequences” presented by Larry Brand, Ph.D., Professor, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
3:30 pm: “Lionfish and Nassau Grouper: A tale of two fish and how stakeholder collaboration leads to conservation success” presented by Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., and Alli Candelmo, Ph.D., REEF Director of Science and REEF Invasive Species Program Manager
4:30 pm: “Marine Heatwaves: What 5,000 citizen scientists can tell us about 85,000 beached birds” presented by Julia Parrish, Ph.D., Professor, University of Washington and Executive Director of COASST
We hope to see you this October in Key Largo! If you have any questions, email events@REEF.org.
Author: Alli Candelmo, Ph.D., Invasive Species Program Manager
A new paper was recently published in the scientific journal, BioInvasions Records, that provides an updated look at non-native marine fishes that have been reported from Florida waters through REEF's Non-Native Species Reporting Program and other sources. The paper also provides information on Early-detection/Rapid-response (ED/RR) efforts. In addition to the well-known invasion of non-native lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles), there are now 39 other non-native marine fishes that have been documented in Florida. These reports have mostly come in from REEF's Non-Native Species Reporting Program (www.REEF.org/report-exotic-or-invasive-sighting), which are then input to the US Geological Survey (USGS)’s Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database (USGS-NAS). In addition to lionfish, there is one other Indo-Pacific species, the Regal Demoiselle (Neopomacentrus cyanomos), that is currently establishing populations in the Gulf of Mexico, along with two other species that have expanded their natural range in the region (Fairy Basslet, Gramma loreto, and Tessellated Blenny, Hypsoblennius invemar). The rest of the species have not yet established populations.
In 1999, REEF established an ED/RR program to mobilize efforts to locate and remove reported non-native species from Florida waters. In collaboration with the USGS and public aquarium institutions (originally the National Aquarium and more recently the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science), REEF has coordinated the removal of 13 individuals of nine species from Florida's coastal waters (see list below). An additional four species have been removed by other institutions, and there have been a few unsuccessful removal attempts. Many of the captured fishes were transferred to public aquaria where they were displayed to provide educational information to the public.
This study follows up on two previous papers published on REEF's Non-native Species Sightings Program (Semmens et al 2004 and Schofield et al 2009). As discussed in Semmens et al (2004), the origin of most non-native fish species sighted in Florida is intentional release by well-meaning home aquarium owners. REEF works with partners, including the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America (MASNA), to conduct outreach with the public on alternatives for responsible disposal of unwanted fishes.
Visit www.REEF.org/db/publications to access the full paper, along with the other 65+ scientific publications that have included REEF's programs and data.
Successful Non-native Fish Removals From Florida Coastal Waters Coordinated by REEF's ED/RR Program
Orbicular Batfish, Platax orbicularis (n = 5)
Humbug Damselfish, Dascyllus aruanus
Chocolate Surgeonfish, Acanthurus pyroferus
Onespot Rabbitfish, Siganus unimaculatus
Spiny Chromis, Acanthochromis polyacanthus
Orangespine Unicornfish, Naso lituratus
Lagoon Triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus
Yellow Tang, Zebrasoma flavescens
Purple (yellow-tail) Tang, Zebrasoma xanthurum
Author: Amy Lee, Trips Program and Communications Manager
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 Jeff Haines and Ann Johnson, REEF members who live in Florida. They have conducted more than 380 surveys combined and have attended REEF Trips in several survey regions. They moved from New York to Florida several years ago and now live close to some of their favorite dive sites, including Blue Heron Bridge, where they frequently dive, survey, and take stunning photographs!
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
Jeff: I first found out about REEF shortly after taking up underwater photography and trying to identify the fish I had taken photos of. I wound up purchasing the 2nd edition Reef Fish Identification set from the REEF website. After buying the books I browsed through the rest of the website and was hooked on the idea of documenting all the fish I saw on my dives.
What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
Jeff: Going diving with other members, both on Field Survey Trips and informal meet ups, and then discussing what we saw or think we saw on the dives. It has dramatically enhanced the quality of and enjoyment of my diving whenever I get the chance to dive with fellow REEF members.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
Ann: My "Wow, this is why we scuba dive" moment came during our first trip to Hawaii during the Manta Ray night dive on the Kona coast. During our dive briefing we were informed of a very friendly Green Moray Eel named "Frank" (years later there was a "Fred") who loved divers and who might even get inside your BCD! Imagine my consternation when I got settled in the sand at 45 feet and looked up to see Frank heading right for me! Luckily, he swam past me and over to Jeff (with his big camera) on my right, encircling Jeff's neck then draping himself like a loose shawl over his neck and shoulders! I can still picture Jeff's big grin and Frank's head and open mouth just beyond Jeff's mask as the first manta swooped inches over them in a loop-de-loop! All I could think was, "if there is a heaven I want it to be just like this moment!"
Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there? If you don’t dive nearby, where do you most often dive? Where is your favorite place to dive and why?
Jeff: When I first began diving I lived in New York and had little opportunity to dive much in the ocean outside of dive travel, so my favorite place to dive was always the last REEF Trip I went on! Dive trips booked outside of REEF just did not measure up to what REEF had to offer, so it became the highlight of my year to go on a REEF Trip someplace with warm clear water and lots of marine life. Now that I have retired and moved to Florida, I am fortunate to be able to dive close to home. I still enjoy participating in REEF Field Survey Trips, but I have to say my favorite has become diving Blue Heron Bridge. As a photographer, you really can't beat that site in terms of bang for your buck- two to three hour dives for the price of an air fill and 1/4 tank of gas, with the opportunity to spot a seemingly limitless variety of marine creatures from Manatees to Eagle Rays, Goliath Groupers and the occasional shark including Hammerheads to a host of Blennies, Gobies and at least 3/4 of the species from the Reef Fish Identification books!
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey, where and what was your trip highlight?
Ann: Every REEF Trip has had highlights but our first Rocio del Mar dive liveaboard trip to the Revillagigedo Archipelago was amazing, with great diving, food, accommodations and people! Marty Snyderman was the trip leader and helped Jeff and all other photographers with recommendations to shoot better underwater pictures. While I was surveying in San Benedicto, a group of 6-7 dolphins swam over to me and hung out chattering and clacking, right next to me and conversing for a few minutes before swooping away! Our last day of diving included an amazing display by the oceanic mantas! The picture on this year's REEF Field Survey Trips t-shirt was from that day! On our recent Rocio del Mar trip to the Midriff Islands, a playful sea lion swam over and gently held one of my fins in his mouth in a gentle handshake!
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Jeff: Slow down and pay close attention to everything near you before swimming on to another portion of the dive site. My most productive survey and photography dives have always been when I can take my time, even spending an entire dive on one coral head, or one patch of sand along a reef. The more still and quiet you get, the more you see. Instead of fish dashing away from you, they begin to act naturally. This is when you get to see things like spawning, feeding and other behaviors. You will also be more successful in spotting the small cryptic species.
Author: Amy Lee, Trips Program and Communications Manager
We’re excited to introduce our Fall 2019 Marine Conservation Interns. These individuals will support the REEF team in mission-oriented tasks and daily office operations at REEF Headquarters, as well as play an integral role in our annual four-day event REEF Fest, as well as the Upper Keys Lionfish Derby and Festival and other education and outreach opportunities throughout the semester. They will also have the chance to scuba dive, conduct fish surveys, and volunteer with environmental organizations in South Florida and the Florida Keys. This semester’s interns bring a unique set of skills and interests to REEF. They include:
Julia Brooks from Satellite Beach, Florida: Julia graduated from Saint Leo University with a B.S. in Marketing. While in college, she started an environmental club and campaigned for recycling on campus. She has interned with the City of Satellite Beach Sustainability Board, where she has helped create and promote stormwater enhancement projects for the Indian River Lagoon, hosted environmental workshops and managed the board's social media presence. This fall, Julia is excited to meet and network with professionals in the marine conservation industry.
Maya Ganapathy from Portage, Michigan: Maya attended Michigan State University and received her B.S. in Behaviorial Neurosciences with a Minor in Anthropology. While in college, Maya interned at a zoo, conducted ecology research, and interned at the South African Shark Conservancy, which solidified her desire to become a marine biologist. After graduation, Maya interned in the Fishes Department at Shedd Aquarium, allowing her to learn about a variety of fish and the different diseases that occur in marine environments. This semester, she looks forward to learning about nonprofit management and participating in community outreach events.
Dylan Heppell from Corvallis, Oregon: Dylan is a second-year student at Oregon State University, studying Environmental Sciences. He is working with REEF for a month before returning to college this fall. During his time in Key Largo, Dylan is working on a variety of tasks within the Invasive Species Program, including assisting with fieldwork on lionfish research dives, helping with the Upper Keys Lionfish Derby, and reviewing underwater videos of lionfish to look for interesting behaviors associated with sound-producing instruments. After finishing school, Dylan hopes to return to REEF for a full semester-long internship!
Andrew Ibarra from Lake Worth, Florida: Andrew attended Florida State University and majored in Environmental Science with minors in Mathematics and Biology. He completed an internship with the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab, assisted with graduate research on gastropod reproduction and ecology, and conducted nighttime sea turtle surveys on St. George Island, FL. As a REEF intern, Andrew is excited to volunteer with other local organizations, continue broadening his experiences, and help further REEF's mission to engage the public.
Our interns are a vital part of REEF and we couldn’t accomplish our mission without them! For more information about the Marine Conservation Internship or to apply for an upcoming semester, visit www.REEF.org/internship.
Author: Ellie Place, Conservation Coordinator - Volunteer Fish Survey Project
REEF Fishinars are fun, live, interactive webinars, open to anyone who wants to learn about ocean life. We hope you can join one of our upcoming sessions!
Unique Fish of the Cayman Islands: Join REEF’s Director of Science, Christy Semmens, on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 8pm Eastern to learn more about some of the unique and interesting fish that you can find while diving in the Cayman Islands.
Invasive Lionfish Update: Join REEF’s Invasive Species Program Manager, Alli Candelmo, on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 8pm Eastern for an update on current research findings of the lionfish invasion in the Tropical Western Atlantic.
You can tune in live from a computer, tablet or mobile device with a good internet connection. Register for these free session online at www.REEF.org/fishinars.
REEF has over 170 archived presentations and REEF members can stream or download them any time from www.REEF.org/fishinararchives.
Author: Stacey Henderson, Volunteer Fish Survey Project Lead Intern
We are happy to share the results of our first underwater photography contest! Thank you to everyone who voted and a special thanks to all of the members who submitted photos! We had more than 120 entries from all over the world, showcasing some incredible marine life. More than 2,500 votes decided the "popular vote" winners in each of the six categories - Fish Portrait, Macro, Invertebrate, Invasive Species, REEF Surveyors, and Environment/Reefscape/Habitat. Congratulations to all of the winners and thank you to everyone for your participation. To view all of the winning photos, click here.
Author: Janna Nichols, Citizen Science Program Manager
Congratulations to the following REEF members who have recently moved up an Experience Level in our Volunteer Fish Survey Project!
Volunteers have the opportunity to advance through 5 levels (Novice through Expert) within each of our survey project regions. Experience Levels are obtained by a combination of fish/invertebrate ID tests and numbers of submitted surveys. As they advance, their data is categorized in our online sightings database accordingly.
More about our experience levels can be found here:
- Rocio Bunker - Level 2
- Nicole Stockham - Level 2
- Erik Gartzke - Level 2
- Joshua Li - Level 2
- Tara Gartzke - Level 2
Pacific Northwest (PNW/PAC):
- Curtis Johnson - Level 3
- Shuo Wei Chang - Level 2
- Kristi Monahan - Level 2
- Preston Graves - Level 2
- Ayana Freeman - Level 2
- Devin Stark - Level 2
- Stuart Marlantes - Level 2
Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA):
- Cassandra Neal - Level 5
- Kate Dremluk - Level 3
- Stacey Henderson - Level 3
- Lisa Morse - Level 3
- Kira Petersons - Level 2
- Paul Terkelsen - Level 2
- Ginger Himelright - Level 2
- Carola Nesbitt - Level 2
- Bette Bodie - Level 2
- Leslie Brown - Level 2
- Stephen Campbell - Level 2
- Patrick McLain - Level 2
- Eileen McLain - Level 2
- Maike Baun - Level 2
- Luca Hoffecker - Level 2
- Nathalia Samper - Level 2
- Julia Wideman - Level 2
- Agata Rogulska - Level 2
- Henry Cliff - Level 2
- Tomas Laurin - Level 2
We look forward to seeing more from these enthusiastic fishwatchers and volunteer citizen scientists!