KEY LARGO, FLA. – All are invited to celebrate ocean conservation during REEF Fest on Oct. 19-22, 2023, in Key Largo, Fla. Hosted by Reef Environmental Education Foundation, this annual event features educational ocean seminars, social gatherings, diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and a nature tour. Most events, including the seminars, are free and open to the public, although online pre-registration is requested. Please visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest for complete details.
Free educational seminars will be held on Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo. Guest speakers include scientists, underwater photographers, and more. This year's seminar speaker lineup includes:
- John Claydon, Ph.D., Executive Director, Integrated Marine Biosphere Research, who will discuss seafood mislabeling and its impact on grouper conservation.
- Alex Troutman, NOAA Knauss Fellow with the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program, who will share stories of his work in the field and highlight the importance of providing accessible ocean experiences and connections for historically-excluded and marginalized communities.
- Martin Russell, Manager, Coral Sea Marine Park, Australia, who will talk about management, research, and protections for the pristine reefs and islands of Australia's Coral Sea Marine Park.
- Jason Belport, Underwater Photographer, who will share a firsthand account of the challenges and hopes for the marine ecosystems of the Cayman Islands and take us on a photographic journey from his dive travels around the world.
- Christy Semmens, Ph.D., REEF Co-Executive Director: Science and Engagement, and Brice Semmens, Ph.D., Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who will celebrate three decades of the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project, and share updates on REEF's conservation science work.
For full talk summaries and speaker bios, visit www.REEF.org/REEFfest/seminars.
Tour the oldest building in the Upper Keys during the REEF Fest Open House, held at the REEF Campus (MM 98.3 in the median) on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 4-7 pm. Light snacks, plus wine and local craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Company will be available. The Open House is free and open to the public.
Mingle with friends over sandwiches, snacks, and drinks during the REEF Fest Happy Hour Social, held on Friday, Oct. 20 from 5-6:30 pm at the Murray Nelson Government Center. The social is free and open to the public.
For the Love of the Sea, the annual REEF Fest celebration dinner, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 5-9 pm. Enjoy food, drinks, and a beautiful sunset over the waters of Florida Bay, plus live music and a silent auction benefiting REEF's marine conservation programs. An open bar with local craft beer from Florida Keys Brewing Company, plus wine, liquor and a selection of non-alcoholic beverages are also included. Tickets may purchased online for $95 per person.
Diving, Snorkeling, Kayaking, and Conservation Activities
From coral reefs to mangrove trails, REEF Fest is the perfect opportunity to explore the amazing marine environments of the Florida Keys. Local operators including Quiescence Diving Services, Pirates Cove Watersports, and Florida Bay Outfitters are offering special REEF Fest eco-excursions on the mornings of Thursday, Oct. 19, Friday, Oct. 20 and/or Saturday, Oct. 21. Diving, snorkeling, and kayaking may be booked online directly at www.REEF.org/REEFfest/diving.
On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 22, attendees may join in a guided walking tour of a nature trail at John Pennekamp State Park.
REEF would like to thank First Horizon Foundation, Florida Keys Brewing Company, Little Moir’s Hibiscus StrEATery, Kaldi’s Coffee, and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council for their support.
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) conserves marine environments worldwide. Our mission is to protect biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community.