KEY LARGO, Fla. – REEF, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, raised $25,000 for coral reef conservation at the first annual “For the Love of the Sea” dinner and auction. Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach, co-founders of REEF and authors of the popular Reef Identification series, spoke about the importance of the REEF in training divers and snorkelers to help with conservation. Community businesses, conservationists and concerned individuals attended the event, which was held at Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort in Key Largo, Florida.

“This event shows how important it is for the community to come together to support programs that preserve our back yard coral reefs“, said Amy Slate, REEF Board member and owner of Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort. “All of us in the Keys depend on healthy reefs-for business, for recreation, for our way of life.”

Funds raised at the event will support volunteer training, public outreach and education, local marine life monitoring and assessment projects, and ongoing partnerships with resource management agencies like the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

“REEF is the single most productive volunteer-based marine data collection program I know,” said Dr. Steve Gittings, Science Director for the National Marine Sanctuary Program. “It would be impossible for marine resource managers to put an army of marine biologists in the water that could generate an equivalent amount of data to REEF.”

The event was organized by a group of REEF volunteers, including local businesses, whose dedication REEF would like to recognize: Kathy Buchanan, Amy Fowler, Judy Halas, Sharon Hauk, Suzanne Holmquist, Evelyn McGlone, Paula Mitchell, Mary Powell and Amy Slate.

“These volunteers were instrumental in the success of this event. Collaborating with neighbors is critical to preserving the environment,” said Leda Cunningham, Executive Director of REEF.

A second “For the Love of the Sea” event is planned for Saturday, February 7, 2009. For more information on REEF, including local conservation programs, visit


Photo by REEF.