REEF Marine Life Identification Curricula


REEF currently offers 15 regionally-specific marine life identification curricula. See below for a full list of curricula available.

*Compability NOTE -- For TWA, FGBNMS (TWA), HAW, Red Sea (IORS) and CIP regions, the curriculum is a Powerpoint file and can be run on any PC or Mac computer with Powerpoint installed. All other curricula are currently only PC-compatible; we are working on Mac-compatible versions for the other regions. 

These instructor-led courses are a great way to introduce divers and snorkelers to the variety of marine life that can be seen during their time in the water. Each curricula includes:

 -- Easy-to-use teaching curriculum to train students in identification and REEF survey methodology, includes description of 50-70 of the most common species in the area. An outline of the curriculum is given below.

 -- USB Flash drive with the image-based slideshow needed to teach the course (corresponds with the printed curriculum), as well as class handouts and a knowledge-review quiz.

 -- Sample starter kit, which includes everything needed to get started with conducting REEF surveys (survey slate, uw survey paper, color ID card, and instructions. 

Two options for Curriculum Format: 

  • Binder -- Printed instructor's text comes in a handy binder, with the photos and presentation on a USB Flash Drive.
  • Paperless -- Instructor's text comes in digital format along with the photos and presentation, all on a USB Flash Drive. ($5 discount)


A general outline of each course includes:

1. Introduction to REEF surveying and participation in the Volunteer Fish Survey Project

2. List of materials needed by instructor and participants, reference guide list.

3. Teaching the course. Tips for the instructor, scientific and common names

4. Orientation to REEF Experience Levels and quizzes

5. Course objectives

6. Slides of each species taught (the main bulk of the course)

7. Overview of the Roving Diver Technique, how to conduct a REEF survey

8. Methods for data entry

9. Level 2 Quiz

Courses are intended to be taught in approximately 3 - 4 hours.



Tropical Western Atlantic Fishes (TWA; Caribbean & Florida) - Mac and PC compatible Powerpoint

Flower Garden Banks (NW Gulf of Mexico; FGBNMS-TWA) - Mac and PC compatible Powerpoint

Red Sea (IORS- Mac and PC compatible Powerpoint

Central Indo-Pacific (CIP) - Mac and PC compatible Powerpoint

Hawaii Fishes (HAW) - Mac and PC compatible Powerpoint

South Atlantic States Fishes (SAS; Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina)

South Atlantic States Invertebrates & Algae (SAS; Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina)

Northeast Fishes (NE: Virginia - Newfoundland, incl. Gulf of Maine) 

Northeast Invertebrate & Algae Identification (NE: Virginia - Newfoundland, incl. Gulf of Maine) 

California Fishes (PAC-CA: includes three sub-courses, geographically divided into Southern California, the Channel Islands, and the Central Coast)

California Invertebrates & Algae (PAC-CA)

Pacific Northwest Fishes (PAC-PNW)

Pacific Northwest Invertebrates & Algae (PAC-PNW)

Tropical Eastern Pacific Fishes (TEP; Baja/Sea of Cortez to Galapagos Isl.)

South Pacific Fishes (SOP; incl. Fiji, Tonga, French Polynesia, the Line Islands, and the Cook Islands)

Samoan Archipelago Fishes (SOP; incl. American Samoa and Samoa)


Students taught by PADI instructors can apply for a fish identification specialty.

In addition to these instructor-led courses, REEF has adapted the popular classroom identification course into a home study DVD package aimed at beginning fishwatchers in the tropical Atlantic. Reef Fish Identification – A Beginning Course teaches the basics of fishwatching, including identification of 50 commonly sighted species found in Florida and the Caribbean. This product is available here.