Local dive operators and volunteers in partnership with Cozumel Reefs National  Park staff are taking a lead role in helping to better understand the status and changes on marine park reefs. Over the last three years, numerous volunteers have undergone REEF training in fish identification and survey methods and are conducting monthly survey dives at key sites within the Marine Park.  The project has been largely supported by volunteer and REEF contributions, a PADI Project AWARE grant, and logistical support of Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel.

Volunteers have contributed more than 1800 surveys from Cozumel documenting more than 350 species of fish.  Most encouraging are the frequent sightings of large Black Grouper (more than 40% of all surveys, compared to 24% in the rest of Caribbean) and Cubera Snapper (24%, compared to 5% in the rest of the Caribbean).  Other species of note are the common sightings of Yellowcheeck Wrasse, Sargassum Triggerfish and, of course, the Splendid Toadfish endemic to Cozumel waters. To view data from Cozumel go to reef.org/db/zonecodes/twa/52 and click on Isla Cozumel. 

More than 50 local divers have taken part in the data collection partnership with many volunteers achieving REEF's highest experience level 5.  This level of expertise allows an individual's data to be considered "Expert" in the REEF database and is achieved through by conducting at least 50 surveys, and passing comprehensive identification exams with extremely high scores.  REEF experts also help beginning fishwatchers by holding regular seminars and organizing regular survey dives to help others get started.

The following schedule of REEF survey dives and seminars is planned for 2003.  For more information on the Cozumel Reefs National Park Volunteers contact Sheryl Shea at sherylshea@hotmail.com or for more info on the REEF Fish Survey Project visit www.reef.org

The dates for Feb., March and April are definite, the rest are tentative.

Monday, Feb. 10th , 7:30 pm Fish review, Aqua Safari classroom

Saturday , Feb. 15th, 9am at Caleta (*See also next message!)   Monthly fish survey dive. We will have the Guardaparque boat for    the dive and the new marine park director, Robert Cudney Bueno, will be joining us.

Sat. March 22-Tuesday March 25   Advanced Level 4/5 course. For those that have at least 25 surveys submitted and have taken the level 3 exam.

Sunday, March 23, 9am Caleta Monthly survey dive for all, not just for advanced courses

Sunday, April 27 Earth Day dive.

Sat. May 24 - Tues. May 27 Experience Level 3 course.

Sunday, June 8 Monthly survey dive.

Sunday July 20 Great Annual Fish Count dive.

The entire month of July is Great Annual Fish Count time and we encourage everyone to dive and do as many surveys as possible this month and to organize other group dives.

Sunday August 17 Monthly survey dive.

Sunday September 21 Monthly survey dive.

Saturday, Oct. 18 - Tuesday Oct. 21 Course for new volunteers.

Sunday, Oct. 26 Monthly survey dive.

Sunday, Nov. 23 Monthly survey dive.

Sunday Dec. 14 Monthly survey dive.