We are excited to announce that the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project database topped 200,000 earlier this fall. The survey was conducted by active surveyor, Kreg Martin, during a survey Cape Kri in Dampier Strait, Indonesia, on 10/15/ 2015.
Here's Kreg's story of getting involved with REEF in the tropical Pacific and the lucky 200,000 survey:
I got started with fish ID in the Indo-Pacific in the Solomon Islands in 2003 when I went on a trip with Lisa Choquette, former owner of Dive Makai in Kona, Hawaii. Lisa teaches fish ID and marine biology to all of her guests who will listen. I did a similar trip in the Solomons in 2005. Then in 2007 I spent two weeks with Lisa at her new resort, Solomon Dive Adventures. She had sold Dive Makai and moved to the Solomons permanently. On that trip, I worked hard to ID all the fish I saw, and made a list of 664 species that I identified.
Since then I have done quite a few trips to Indonesia, one more to the Solomons, and one to the Philippines. On every trip I tried to ID all the fish. This made me quite familiar with most of the reef fish in the area. Even so, on most dives I find and photograph at least one or two species that I don't know already. The region is incredibly species diverse, and presents a great challenge to the serious fish-watcher. Over the past few years I worked with Janet Eyre and Neil Ericsson to help Christy establish the CIP region for REEF surveys. I helped design several versions of the underwater paper and did quite a few pioneering surveys in the region.
In October 2015 I had the opportunity to go on a 3-week live-aboard trip in Raja Ampat aboard the wonderful Dewi Nusantara with Paul & Ned. I conducted a fish survey on all 61 of the dives I did on that trip. The 200,000 REEF survey was conducted on that trip, at Cape Kri, an incredible site in the heart of Raja Ampat. It is a place where current from the open sea sweeps up over a reef that extends from Kri Island out to a point. It attracts pelagic species, rich outer reef species, and reef flat species. We dove this site three times on our trip. The first time had perfect conditions, but it was at the beginning of the trip when I was still learning the new version of the Raja Ampat CIP underwater paper. I spent most of that dive finding species on my slate, which limited the number of species I could record on that dive. The 200,000th survey was done a week later, but unfortunately the conditions weren't perfect. The current was strong in the wrong direction. We could not dive on the point, but instead started near the island, then went along the reef toward the point until we were swept up over the reef by the current. Even so, the richness of this site shows in the species count, which was over 200!