Making It Count - February 2018

Thank You Martha Klitzkie

The REEF staff and interns gathered last week with REEF co-founders, Paul Humann and Ned and Anna DeLoach, to say thank you to Martha Klitzkie. Not pictured: Janna Nichols and Jane Bixby.
Martha has served as REEF's Director of Operations based at REEF HQ since joining REEF in 2011.

There has been much going on behind the scenes at REEF that has kept things humming for the past six years—and hum they have. REEF’s behind-the-scenes secret has been Martha Klitzkie, our steady, can-do Director of Operations. Regrettably, Martha, with her husband Ben and their children, will be relocating to Chicago this month, where Ben will be taking a new job.

Martha’s successes since joining REEF in 2011 are many and enduring. First and foremost, REEF’s budget has doubled, allowing our iconic ocean conservation programs to expand, and REEF’s talented team of staff and interns to increase significantly. During her tenure Martha also inaugurated our Explorers Education Program, which engaged more than 1000 participants from ages 6 to 70 in 2017. In the same period she worked hand in hand with Monroe County to build REEF Fest into a much-anticipated annual event. She also recently partnered with the County in the expansion of REEF Headquarters in Key Largo providing much needed legroom and reshaping our grounds into an inviting nature and picnic park. Martha leaves REEF on strong footing to continue our quarter-century mission promoting and nurturing citizen science in the marine realm. Treasured by the staff, interns, volunteers, contributors and the Board of Trustees, she will be deservedly missed around the office.

Martha will continue in her leadership role, working remotely, for at least the next several months to help make our transition as smooth as possible. We are currently analyzing our leadership structure to determine an alignment that will best serve our growing organization.

Please join us in thanking Martha for her six years of stellar service at REEF Headquarters.

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The Faces of REEF: Gerald Winkel

Gerald Winkel (r) representing REEF at Scuba Show in Long Beach, CA.
Gerald surveying in the California kelp. Photo by Janna Nichols.
Getting ready for a shore dive in La Jolla, California.
The Bat Ray!
Gerald teaching fish ID.

REEF members are at the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. Over 60,000 divers, snorkelers, students, and armchair naturalists stand behind our mission.

This month we highlight Gerald Winkel, member since 2009. Gerald has conducted 243 surveys. Gerald lives and dives in California and he is a Level 4 Expert surveyor in the PAC region. Gerald has represented REEF at many dive shows and festivals over the years and is an active REEF Fish ID instructor. Here's what Gerald had to say about REEF:

When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member?

In February of 2009, I heard about Herb Gruenhagen's REEF presentation through the San Diego Ocean Foundation. After attending his amazing class, I was hooked and got progressively involved with REEF. I love sharing the wonders of the underwater world, be it teaching ID classes, conducting surveys, presenting at dive clubs or outreach at our local shows and events.

What inspires you to complete REEF surveys?

There's always something interesting on each dive, either a new sighting/behavior or even the absence of species. Being able to capture this in a survey and add to the database makes you feel part of something bigger.

What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?

Hanging out with other fish geeks! We have amazing volunteers who love to share their knowledge.

In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF's projects and programs?

Hands down, the staff and every member!

Where is your favorite place to dive and why?

With a day job in the desert, I'm pretty lucky to be only an hour away from the beach. Southern California has neither the warmest nor the clearest water but I love diving here.

What is the most fascinating fish encounter you've experienced?

One of my first dives after certification was the Manta Ray night dive in Kona, HI, which is to this day my favorite dive to remember.

What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?

Our local Bat Ray is among my favorites. It looks like a creature from a different planet but is literally right under our noses/fins.

Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?

Slow down, it's not a race!

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Join Ned and Anna DeLoach in Brazil this Summer

The beautiful islands of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil.

We are excited to announce that seven spaces have just opened up on the previously sold out trip with Ned and Anna DeLoach to the islands of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, August 4-13, 2018. This will be an amazing opportunity to dive and experience these isolated islands with two of the most renowned individuals in the field. Don’t miss this chance: after years of leading several REEF Field Survey trips annually, including the very first Field Survey in the summer of 1993, this will officially be Ned and Anna’s last year as REEF Field Survey trip leaders. They will continue to be active members of REEF’s Board of Trustees and will join in on special REEF Expeditions and other projects as their schedule allows, but they will no longer be on REEF’s annual Field Survey schedule.

Register today before this popular trip fills up again! Contact REEF at for more information, and view the trip webpage for details.

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Passion for the Cause: REEF's Legacy Society

Rosette Davila is leaving her legacy for the oceans through a life estate gift to REEF.

Rosette Davila cares deeply about the health of the oceans. As a supporter of REEF programs both in the water and on land, Rosette wants to make a difference. That's why she recently became part of REEF's Legacy Society through a life estate gift. When asked why she chose REEF, Rosette described a long history of diving (since 1993), where she has become increasingly alarmed with the deterioration of our oceans. In 2015 Rosette joined REEF's Lad Akins and Peter Hughes on a REEF Invasive Lionfish Research Trip to The Bahamas. Her experience removing lionfish, during that trip and subsequently in the Turks and Caicos, opened her eyes to how beneficial REEF's citizen science programs can be. Rosette is determined to do whatever it takes to help REEF in their efforts, as she has seen firsthand the positive results of the work REEF does.

Rosette recently retired from her family's pharmacy in Texas and has relocated to Spain. As she was settling her affairs, she contacted REEF to request a letter of intent indicating her wishes. We are so grateful for Rosette and the other members of REEF's Legacy Society.

Are you interested in becoming a part of REEF's Legacy Society? Contact Bonnie Barnes at for more information.

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Support REEF at 5% Day at Whole Foods Market®

On April 19th, nine Whole Foods Market stores across South Florida will be supporting ocean conservation. Stores in Coral Springs, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, and West Palm Beach will donate 5% of their total sales from the day to REEF, to support our South Florida conservation efforts. Whole Foods Markets® has been working with REEF to help develop the market for invasive lionfish and is this year's derby series title sponsor. You can do your part in helping to support conservation by shopping at one of the nine participating locations on April 19th!

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Announcing REEF Ocean Explorers Summer Camp: Registration now open!

REEF Explorers enjoying fun camp activities in beautiful Key Largo.

Explore the marine habitats of the Florida Keys and discover the amazing animals found beneath the waves during our 2018 camp session! REEF will offer three weeks of camp at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, Florida. Camp will include snorkeling trips, kayak tours, beach games, and conservation activities. Please share the amazing opportunity to snorkel, kayak, and explore this summer with your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. REEF welcomes campers ages 7-13. 

June 25 – 29 (Pair this week of camp with the REEF Field Survey Trip in Key Largo)

July 9 – 13 

July 16 – 20 

For more information, please visit or email

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2018 REEF Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market® schedule announced

An invasive lionfish above the reef in Florida. Photo by REEF.
REEF staff and interns processing lionfish at a Derby.

The following dates and locations have been set for REEF’s 2018 Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market®:

  • June 8th – 10th: Miami Lionfish Derby at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science*
  • July 6th – 8th: Sarasota Lionfish Derby at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium*
  • July 13th & 14th: Fort Lauderdale Lionfish Derby at 15th Street Fisheries
  • August 3rd – 5th: Palm Beach County Lionfish Derby at Loggerhead Marinelife Center*
  • August 10th – 12th: Jacksonville Lionfish Derby at Beach Marine*
  • September 14th – 16th: Upper Keys Lionfish Derby at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park*

For registration and further information, go to:

This year’s derby series will also include a number of culinary events (noted by asterisks) with special lionfish tastings, demonstrations, and chef’s competitions. New prize categories this year will include a special $1,000 Golden Fish Award open to any team that lands at least one fish and a first timer’s category for teams who are taking part in the series for the first time. Cash awards for 1st through 10th place will be awarded for most lionfish and 1st through 3rd for both largest and smallest lionfish.

In 2017, teams removed over 2,500 lionfish and more than 21,000 lionfish have been removed since the derbies began in 2010.  Both divers and snorkelers are invited to compete in removal events and derby festivities are open to the public. Mandatory Captain Meetings will be held the day before each derby. On derby day, spectators are encouraged to attend and taste free lionfish samples.

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Design by Joanne Kidd, development by Ben Weintraub