Author: Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., Co-Executive Director: Science & Engagement
Since the organization's earliest days, a key aspect of REEF's success has been strategic partnerships with academia, government agencies, and other non-profits. REEF has a long history of collaboration with the scientific community, starting in the early 1990s when REEF's founders worked with researchers from University of Miami, NOAA, and The Nature Conservancy to determine the best protocols for the Volunteer Fish Survey Project. There are currently four students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego who are working with REEF on various data projects. Below is a brief overview of their efforts.
Cameron VanHorn is currently working towards a B.S./M.S., and for his thesis is working with the passive acoustic data from the Grouper Moon Project to characterize the seasonal patterns in courtship-associated sounds at spawning sites throughout the Cayman Islands. Jordan DiNardo, a Ph.D. student, is using Volunteer Fish Survey Project data from throughout the Caribbean to explore patterns in co-occurrence and relative abundance of common parrotfish species. Charles Hendrikson, an Undergraduate Research Fellow, spent the summer analyzing changes in the size frequency of aggregating Nassau Grouper on Little Cayman within a single spawning season, using data collected by the Grouper Moon team. Lastly, Dr. Dan Greenberg, a postdoc, is comparing Volunteer Fish Survey Project data species data in the Caribbean with a long-term NOAA statistical survey of the Florida Keys. The effort aims to better understand the relative performance of both methods in tracking the "true" abundance of species through time.
REEF's Co-Executive Director, Dr. Christy Pattengill-Semmens, and her husband and Grouper Moon Project lead scientist, Dr. Brice Semmens, are based in San Diego, where Brice is an Asssociate Professor at Scripps and Christy maintains a Visiting Scholar position there.
Author: Maddi Piascik, Events & Communications Lead Intern
REEF’s in-person programming is on hold until further notice, but there are still ways you can stay engaged in marine conservation from home.
2020 Underwater Photo Contest Winners
Thank you to everyone who voted in our 2020 Underwater Photography Contest! We had over 170 photos entered this year and over 1,500 votes cast. Check out the winning photographs in each category here. Congratulations to all of the winners!
Virtual Lionfish Workshop: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 6:30-8:30 pm EDT.
This free virtual workshop will include background information on the invasion, lionfish biology, ecological impacts, current research, collection and handling techniques, and much more. Click here to register for the online workshop. Please note that this workshop is fully online and does not include a two-tank dive charter. However, if you wish to participate in lionfish collection dives after the workshop, Key Dives in Islamorada, FL and Rainbow Reef in Key Largo, FL will be running lionfish dive charters on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12. Please contact Key Dives or Rainbow Reef Dive Center for rates, times, and more information on how to register for lionfish dive charters.
Fishy Hour: Fish-Face-To-Face (Pacific Northwest): Thursday, Sept. 10, 7pm PDT.
Enjoy a casual, fun, face-to-face chat time (via Zoom) with your fellow Pacific Northwest REEF fish geeks. Webcams are encouraged. We'll each get a chance to say hello, and see each other's smiling faces. Click here to register.
Upper Keys Lionfish Derby Facebook Livestream: Sunday, Sept. 13
The Upper Keys Lionfish Derby will take place this weekend as a socially-distant event. You can follow along virtually on Facebook. REEF Invasive Lionfish Program will be broadcasting live streams of a lionfish dissections, fish scoring and measurements. Like us on Facebook for all of the derby updates!
Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K Race: Sept. 28-Oct. 4
Registration is open for the first-ever REEF Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K Race. You can choose to run, walk, bike, or hike the 3.1 mile distance in one day, or break it into smaller sections throughout the week. To add to the excitement, we've chosen a special fish representative from each of our 11 Volunteer Fish Survey Project regions, and you can sign up to be part of your favorite fish's team! Proceeds from the Fish Out of Water 5K will support REEF’s new "Oceans for All Fund." This fund provides ocean-focused educational opportunities for underserved communities and those with financial need. Registration is $35 per person and includes a limited-edition Fish Out of Water 5K shirt, race bib, finishers’ medal, and certificate of completion. Participants can also sign up for a pre-race online social on Sept. 24 at 8pm EDT. For more information or to register, visit www.REEF.org/5Krace.
Fishy Hour: Fish-Face-To-Face (Tropical Western Atlantic): Thursday, Oct. 8, 8pm EDT.
Enjoy a casual, fun, face-to-face chat time (via Zoom) with your fellow Tropical Western Atlantic REEF fish geeks. Webcams are encouraged. We'll each get a chance to say hello, and see each other's smiling faces. Click here to register.
Virtual Lionfish Jewelry Workshop: Thursday, Oct. 22 - 6-8pm EDT
Learn about background of the lionfish invasion, biology and ecology of lionfish, impacts, current research findings, collecting tools and techniques, market development and ways you can make a difference! This online workshop also includes a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own lionfish jewelry. You can choose to simply watch, or purchase your own kit to follow along live! REEF Jewelry Kits, with everything you need to make your own jewelry, are sold in our online store here. Kits include necklace pendant, earring pendants, cotton necklace cord, treated lionfish fins, and resin. Please order by October 7 to receive your jewelry kit in time for the virtual workshop. Click here to register for the workshop.
Author: Amy Lee, Engagement and Communications Manager
We recently welcomed our Fall 2020 Marine Conservation Interns to the REEF Campus! During the next four months, they will support the REEF team by assisting with our marine conservation programs and non-profit operations. This semester’s interns bring a unique set of skills and interests to REEF. They include:
Dara Albrecht: Dara is studying environmental science with a concentration in biodiversity and conservation at Yale University. She is a first-generation Peruvian-American citizen, and has grown up advocating for the environment and fighting against environmental degradation and exploitation in Peru and in the US. Dara is involved with many environmental initiatives at college, including efforts for sustainable fashion, environmental education, and science research and publishing. Her favorite activity so far has been working as a science tour guide for the Yale Office of Admissions. Last summer, she interned for the Global Ecology Lab at the University of Sydney in Australia, where she studied scavenger behavior in the Australian desert. She has also been working to review a book about community-based conservation in Latin America, and will eventually be published as a reviewer when it goes to print! These experiences have strengthened Dara’s love for citizen science and environmental education, and she hopes to apply them to marine conservation through working with REEF to better improve conservation systems.
Melanie Farrell: Melanie is from Long Island, New York. She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. in Maritime Studies and a B.A. in Geography. While at UConn she had the opportunity to work in the research department with Principal Investigators on budgets, contracts, and other important analytical duties. She also studied abroad through the School for Field Studies. During this time she lived and worked on the small island of South Caicos in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where she participated in invasive lionfish collection and dissection and seagrass health and abundance surveys. She also collected data to study populations of endangered Queen Conch inside and outside Marine Protected Areas. Melanie has also conducted research on the relationship between fishing gear selectivity and total length of Nassau Grouper caught by fishermen. In the future she hopes to become a dive instructor. This fall, Melanie is excited to combine her enthusiasm for the ocean with education and research.
Alyssa Fogel: Alyssa is from Columbus, Ohio. She is a senior at Otterbein Univeristy at Westerville, Ohio, where she is studying environmental science, biology, and Spanish. Her passion for marine science stems from her experiences at Forfar Field Station on Andros Island in The Bahamas. Forfar is an environmental education and conservation organization that offers field studies, dive trips, and sailing trips. She has returned to Forfar six times since her first trip in 2015, and hopes to continue to return each year for the annual volunteer week. Travel has always been an important part of Alyssa’s life. She has snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef and has also visited Malawi, Africa, as part of a travel course. Alyssa currently works at Goldfish Swim School, a children’s swim lesson facility, where she teaches valuable water safety skills. With REEF, she is excited to further develop her teaching skills by educating the public about threats to the ocean. She hopes to further her education by earning her master’s and doctoral degrees, with the goal of one day becoming a university professor. She is working on becoming scuba certified this semester, and plans to become a dive instructor later in her career.
Gabriela Tejada: Gabby is from Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Biology. While in college, she travelled to Key Largo and Mexico for courses and workshops in marine mammal veterinary medicine and conservation. Gabby worked at the Melbourne Zoo while studying abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Working in a zoo-based conservation organization exposed her to the business operations and ethics of conservation, which she is eager to explore further. Gabby also interned with the New England Aquarium, where she worked to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, and cold-stunned marine mammals and sea turtles. After graduation, she was selected to participate in a highly competitive summer business management program where she was inspired to combine her passions for conservation and business. In the future, Gabby intends to continue her education by pursuing a dual MBA and MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management.
Our interns are a vital part of REEF and we couldn’t accomplish our work without them! For more information about the Marine Conservation Internship or to apply for an upcoming semester, visit www.REEF.org/internship.
Author: Maddi Piascik, Events & Communications Lead Intern
REEF’s 2020 Upper Keys Lionfish Derby is sponsored by Ocean Reef Conservation Association (ORCA), a non-profit dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment, fish, wildlife, and marine related areas including water quality and habitat. Since 2009, ORCA has supported the efforts of several non-profits including Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, The Everglades Foundation, Audubon of Florida, Coral Restoration Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association and more. Education is an important part of ORCA's mission. The organization annually awards college scholarships to graduating seniors in the Florida Keys who are pursuing marine and environmental studies. Since 2010, the Scholarship Program has awarded over $500,000 to the future stewards of our environment.
The 2020 Upper Keys Lionfish Derby is made possible thanks to supporters like ORCA. This year’s derby is designed to allow teams and coordinators to maintain a safe social distance while still encouraging the removal of lionfish from our reefs. Yeams of 2-4 people will compete for more than $3,000 in cash prizes, which will be awarded for Smallest, Largest, and Most Lionfish. This year’s lionfish derby allows for two full days of fishing from sunrise to sunset on Friday, Sept. 11 and Saturday, Sept. 12. There are two contactless drop stations: one at the REEF Campus in Key Largo and one at Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key.
Thanks to ORCA's generous financial support, REEF is able to bring the Florida Keys community together to combat the lionfish invasion and protect our marine habitats. For more information about the 2020 Upper Keys Lionfish Derby, visit www.REEF.org/2020derby.
Author: Maddi Piascik, Events & Communications Lead Intern
This month REEF is proud to highlight SeaDoc Society, one of our outstanding Conservation Partners. REEF Conservation Partners are active organization 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 SeaDoc Society participate with REEF’s main programs?
Prior to the launch of REEF's Fishinar program in 2011, SeaDoc Society sponsored in-person REEF classes on fish and invertebrate ID. Each year since 2013, SeaDoc Society has partnered wth REEF to conduct an annual monitoring project in the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea is a transboundary bi-national ecosystem shared by the US and Canada, and each year the project location alternates between the San Juan Islands in the US and the Gulf Islands in Canada. Each year the survey team includes members of REEF's Pacific Northwest Advanced Assessment Team (AAT). Each year 100+ surveys are gathered during the AAT project, held in September/October. In 2019, the project expanded to include another location in the Salish Sea - Hornby Island off of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
We have also worked with REEF to use Volunteer Fish Survey Project data to better understand changes in fish and invertebrates in the region. REEF data have been critical for helping us understand the impact of sea star wasting disease on various echinoderms and the ecosystem. We are currently comparing fish presence and abundance as collected by REEF divers compared to traditional fisheries techniques. The robust REEF survey community in the Salish Sea can help us track changes faster than more traditional methods, but we need to determine which fish REEF surveyors can and cannot track, due to subtle differences between species that make visual identification nearly impossible.
What other actions do you take to promote marine conservation?
We strongly promote REEF to recreational SCUBA and free divers in the region and financially support the annual AAT surveys. We also promote the REEF database to local scientists who don’t know about it, but could benefit from using it in their work.
How can REEF members get involved with your dive shop/organization?
SeaDoc does not have a volunteer program, but anybody who wants to learn more about the Salish Sea ecosystem or what diving in the Salish Sea is like can visit our website, www.seadocsociety.org or check out our book The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest, available on Amazon. You also can enjoy our YouTube series, Salish Sea Wild, which features numerous underwater adventures, as well as an entire episode on the REEF program. Click here for more about the REEF-focused episode.
Author: The REEF Team
Meet our September Fish of the Month, the Sea Raven (Hemitripterus americanus)!
Survey Regions: The Sea Raven is found in the cold to temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland as far south as the Chesapeake, part of REEF's Northeast US and Canada (NE) survey region. Click here to view the species distribution report in the REEF database.
Size: Can grow up to 2 feet.
Identifying Features: Sea Ravens have prickly skin and a tall first dorsal fin. Their bodies can be uniformly colored or mottled in shades of brown, red, or yellow. They have a large head with humps, ridges, and fleshy tabs.
Fun Facts: The Sea Raven is a member of the Sculpin family. They eat a variety of bottom-dwelling creatures like molluscs, crustaceans and fish and have several rows of very sharp teeth. If you like this fish, you can choose to be on the Sea Raven Team when you sign up for REEF's Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K! Click here to learn more.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the October issue of e-News to see our next Fish of the Month.
Photo by Amy Maurer.