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.