Volunteer Fish Survey Project
REEF's mission, to educate and enlist divers in the conservation of marine habitats, is accomplished primarily through the Volunteer Fish Survey Project. The Project was developed in 1990 with support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and guidance by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The project allows volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations as well as selected invertebrate and algae species in temperate reef areas (West Coast of the US and Canada, the South Atlantic States, and the Northeast US & Eastern Canada). The data are collected using a fun and easy standardized method, and are housed in a publicly-accessible database on REEF's Website and used by a variety of resource agencies and researchers.
REEF now maintains the world’s largest marine based citizen science data gathering program (Volunteer Fish Survey Project) containing over 9 million fish records, Great Annual Fish Count, Advanced Assessment survey projects, lectures and webinars covering a wide variety of conservation topics including the Grouper Moon project and shark conservation – two areas of strong mutual interest.
We have over 5,000 members alone in Miami-Dade county that serve as citizen-scientists, volunteering their time and talents to count fish, remove invasive species, participate in Lionfish removal trainings and events, and assist us by reporting exotic fish species offshore.
Invasive Lionfish and other Endangered/Invasive Species Program
Since 1994, REEF has maintained an on-line educational section on non-native species as well as an on-line exotic species reporting page. REEF works in close partnership with government agencies and partners throughout the region to help develop lionfish response plans, train resource managers and dive operators in effective collecting and handling techniques and conduct cutting edge research to help address the invasion. REEF currently enlists divers and snorkelers to join organized lionfish research and removal projects and encourages public participation in helping address the invasion.
Non-native marine fishes can pose a major threat to marine fisheries, habitats, and ecosystem function. Increased reports of non-native species and the successful invasion of lionfish in Atlantic waters have proven the need for early warning and rapid response to confirmed sightings. REEF has been working with Federal, State, and local partners as well as divers and dive operators, public aquaria, and foreign fisheries departments to enact rapid response protocol and removals and to assist with scientific investigations related to non-native marine species.
We have over 5,000 members alone in Miami-Dade county that serve as citizen-scientists, volunteering their time and talents to participate in Lionfish removal trainings and events, and assist us by reporting exotic fish species offshore.
Explorer Education Program
Passion for the marine environment begins with education. At REEF, we offer a variety of ways to become immersed into an ocean of learning. Programs range from two hour workshops to 3-5 day eco-adventures that include kayaking, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving. Our learning experiences are designed to appeal to all levels of marine enthusiasts. Schools, scouts, youth groups, universities, dive clubs and adult travel groups are all invited to learn about marine science with REEF.
We receive funding to provide Days in Nature for both Miami-Dade Children's Shelter as well as Florida Keys Children's Shelter. Many of these youth have never been in the ocean. They spent their days learning about dolphins, kayaking, snorkeling, dissecting Lionfish, making Lionfish jewelry, and learning how important our marine environment is to everyone, including them.
REEF Ocean Explorers Summer Camp
Campers to join us for a summer of exploration, discovery, and ocean learning! Many of our students come from Miami-Dade county and travel daily to attend the summer camp.
REEF Explorers Programs
We welcome universities, travel groups, and students of all ages to plan a trip to REEF. We regularly receive groups from Miami-Dade Schools and private organizations at our headquarters in Key Largo. We also travel to deliver programs on Lionfish Capturing and Handling workshops throughout the state of Florida.
Great Annual Fish Count
The Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) is a fun way to learn about local oceans. Every July, divers and snorkelers across the world join to learn about marine diversity and conduct fish surveys as a part of REEF's ongoing Volunteer Fish Survey Project.
The GAFC is only a catalyst to introduce divers/snorkelers and the general public to volunteer fish monitoring. Data are needed year-round, not just during the month of July. Click here to learn more about REEF and the ongoing Volunteer Fish Survey Project.
Marine Conservation Internship Program
Reef Environmental Education Foundation regularly recruits applicants for the Marine Conservation Internship program. Each semester, four interns are selected from around the world to spend a semester at REEF headquarters in Key Largo, Florida.
REEF protects biodiversity and ocean life by actively engaging and inspiring the public through citizen science, education, and partnerships with the scientific community. The internship provides an array of diverse experiences including SCUBA diving, outreach and education, data collection, non-profit operations, event planning, graphic design, social media development, and public speaking.
During the four-month long internship, interns have many opportunities to dive and volunteer with partner organizations in the Florida Keys and South Florida. REEF will provides a creative environment in which students build their portfolio and take on major projects.