Making It Count - January 2018

Putting it to Work: Who's Using REEF Data, January 2018

Yellowfin Grouper, one of the species being evaluated by a research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Photo by Jeff Haines.

Every month, scientists, government agencies, and other groups request raw data from REEF’s Volunteer Fish Survey Project database. Recent examples of data requests and uses include:

- A graduate student at Simon Fraser University is using REEF data from The Bahamas and Belize to research the impact of the lionfish invasion on two species of native fishes that are typically prey for the voracious invader - Sharpnose Puffer and Bluehead Wrasse.

- A graduate student at Florida State University is using REEF data to evaluate patterns of species richness on natural and artificial reefs in Florida.

- An Endangered Species Act Biologist from NOAA is using the sea turtle sightings data from the REEF database to evaluate patterns in ares of the Atlantic and Caribbean.

- A graduate student from Scripps Institute of Oceanography is using REEF data in the western Atlantic to evaluate populations of grouper.

- A student at University of Hawaii Hilo is using REEF data to evaluate local populations of butterflyfish, surgeonfish, and parrotfishes.

- A graduate student from University of Windsor and visiting scholar at Florida Gulf Coast University are using REEF data to research patterns of population trends along the West Florida Shelf.

- A researcher from the University of the West Indies (Barbados) is using REEF data to evaluate Caribbean-wide patterns in reef fish community composition and structure.

To see a complete list of all scientific publications that have included REEF data and projects, visit

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The Faces of REEF: Greg Jensen

Greg in his element underwater. Photo by Janna Nichols.
A fish lover at heart.
Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker. Photo by Greg Jensen.

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 Greg Jensen, member since 2009. Greg has conducted 230 surveys (almost all in the chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest where he lives with his wife Pam, also an active REEF member). Greg is a faculty member at the University of Washington and the author of "Crabs and Shrimps of the Pacific Coast". He is a Level 5 Expert surveyor in the PAC region and has participated in several of the Advanced Assessment Team projects in Washington. Here's what Greg had to say about REEF:

When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF? I first learned about REEF when I was approached by Janna Nichols to help on some dive surveys for a non-REEF project to count invertebrates in the Pacific Northwest. There wasn’t a species list, and we were trying to identify everything- which turned out to be impossible, given the density of organisms and problems with species identification for groups like sponges and bryozoans.

In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs? As a scientist who has always been interested in biodiversity I have kind of a built-in affinity for documenting what I see, and REEF gives me yet another excuse to dive. What I like (besides seeing the database grow) is that it gets more non-scientists engaged and interested in underwater life. Divers who once thought a site was only good if it had wolf eels or octopus are now getting excited over obscure little sculpins, and that’s pretty cool.

Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there? If you don’t dive nearby, where do you most often dive? Where is your favorite place to dive and why? I’m fortunate to live near Puget Sound, in an area where I’m surrounded by water. There are a dozen or more great sites an hour or less from my door, ranging from current-swept rocky channels where one can only dive during small tidal exchanges, to quiet bays that can be done anytime. With such a variety of habitats there is the opportunity to see a great diversity of species.

What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite? Can’t really decide if my favorite fish is a spiny lumpsucker or a grunt sculpin. Both are small, unbearably cute fish with great personalities.

Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members? Stock up on identification guides. All books have their strengths and weaknesses, and having several different references at hand will give you different views, color variations, and tips for separating similar species. Check out REEF’s online “Fishinars” for handy tips to separate similar-looking species, and these often include characteristics that may not be in any of the guide books. I’ve given Fishinars for west coast crabs and sculpins, and put together an e-book to simplify identification of Pacific Northwest sculpins, a group that many divers find particularly difficult (free pdf download at

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It's Not Too Late to Get the Hammerhead Print

During our Winter Campaign, donors contributing $250 or more will receive this limited edition, signed print of a schooling Hammerhead Sharks taken by Paul Humann.

Now that we are well into the swing of this new year, it has never been a better time to contribute to a very important cause: conserving the oceans that connect us all. If you haven't already given this winter, please do so today! You can donate securely online at or call REEF at (305) 852-0030. And if you donate at least $250 before the end of February you will receive my limited-edition, signed print of Schooling Hammerheads taken in the Galapagos Islands. By supporting REEF, you are protecting biodiversity and making an investment in the health of our oceans.

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Announcing the 2018 REEF Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market®

Derby staff processing invasive lionfish removed from a Florida reef.

Divers and snorkelers in Florida will once again sharpen their spears and hone their lionfish hunting skills to compete in the annual REEF Lionfish Derby Series presented by Whole Foods Market®. This summer marks 10 years of lionfish derbies, and will feature an exclusive partnership between REEF and Whole Foods Market for six derby events around the state. Whole Foods Market introduced lionfish to all Florida stores in April 2016, which is perfect for those who want a delicious, nutritious, and eco-conscious choice. Invasive lionfish are voracious predators from the Indo-Pacific that threaten Florida’s marine ecosystems by devouring more than 170 species of our native fish and invertebrates. Defended from predators by 18 venomous spines, lionfish rule the reefs and reproduce as often as every four days, year round. Though lionfish may seem unstoppable, divers and snorkelers can significantly reduce local populations and allow native fish populations to recover. Lionfish derbies serve to educate the public, provide samples for researchers, and encourage market development, on top of removing thousands of ecologically devastating lionfish. For more information, visit

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Ten Reasons to Join REEF’s Field Survey to Grenada this May

Many cryptic species, including Frogfish, can be found in Grenada. Photo courtesy of Aquanauts Grenada.
An aerial view of True Blue Bay Resort.
One of Aquanauts' spacious dive boats.
The Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is a unique attraction.

Known as the dive capital of the Eastern Caribbean, Grenada is located on the border between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Grenada’s diving includes famous shipwrecks, colorful reefs, and mind-blowing macro marine life. The island is also home to an underwater sculpture park and has plenty of land-based activities to enjoy during surface intervals, including hiking, visiting beautiful Grand Anse Beach, river tubing, and touring historic sites. Trip participants will collect data on marine fish species while diving, and enjoy fish ID classes each evening. 

Space is filling up quickly and the last chance to register for this trip is Feb. 10, so if you are interested, don’t wait to book! Trip details are available here.

Here are ten reasons to join REEF in Grenada this year:

10. Perfect time of year: While the dive season is year round, May is a great month to visit the island. It’s the end of the dry season, which means great visibility for diving – the average is 50-100 feet. Weather-wise, air temperatures in May are in the mid-80’s and there is always a nice breeze from the ocean.

9. Be a citizen scientist: REEF’s database currently has less than 500 surveys from Grenada. This is a great opportunity to collect data from a less-frequently surveyed location, while adding to your life list of fish sightings and surveys.

8. Expand your fish ID knowledge: Surveyors of all levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced, and daily classes will focus on different fish families and fun sightings from the day’s dives. 

7. Make a difference: When you travel with REEF, you make a difference in the health of our oceans by supporting marine research, education and conservation. REEF is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. The IRS may consider expenses associated with your work as a REEF Field Survey volunteer tax deductible. For details, visit and consult your tax advisor.

6. Diving perks: Aquanauts Grenada is known for offering great service, valet diving, and having comfortable, spacious boats. Most dive sites are less than 30 minutes away via boat ride. For those who are Nitrox certified, free Nitrox is included with this trip, and the dive shop is located onsite at True Blue Bay Resort. 

5. Relaxing accommodations: True Blue Bay Boutique Resort is a family-owned and operated hotel overlooking the water. All rooms have a view of the bay, and there are many onsite amenities and activities including a spa, yoga studio, boutique, restaurant, rum tastings, free Hobie cats and kayaks, and several pools.  

4. Easy to get there: There are daily direct flights to Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND) from several major US cities. Once you’re there, getting around the island is easy via bus or taxi.  

3. Plenty to do on surface intervals: When you’re not diving, Grenada, known as the Spice Island, has many topside activities and beautiful scenery including hiking trails through rainforests, ending in fantastic waterfalls. Visit Georgetown’s spice market to sample nutmeg, clover, cinnamon, ginger, and cocoa, or tour the Grenada National Museum or Fort Matthew to learn more about the history of the island. 

2. Unique dive sites: Awe-inspiring wrecks, colorful reefs, and exciting drifts make Grenada a great place for divers of all levels. The island’s reefs, walls, and underwater sculpture parks are prolific marine ecosystems. One drift diving site, located where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, offers plenty of chances to see large schools of fish and lesser-seen migratory species.

1. Great spot for marine life: Surveyors will love the abundant marine life here. The dive site “Purple Rain” is named for the schooling Creole Wrasse that descend like purple raindrops over the reef. Blennies, frogfish, and seahorses can be found in shallows, and acording to locals, Grenada’s reefs and walls also provide a good opportunity to see the elusive Black Brotula – a fish on every surveyor’s bucket list!

If you’re interested in joining this trip or have questions, contact for more information or to sign up today!

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REEF is Hiring: Store and Facilities Manager

REEF is looking for a good addition to the staff team based at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, FL. We are seeking to hire a full time Store and Facilities Manager to support the operations on the REEF Campus. The REEF Campus serves as an educational center for visitors and groups, with its newly opened Interpretive Center. It is also the Headquarters for supporting our membership of over 65,000 engaging in REEF’s international programs. REEF maintains a physical and online store of field supplies, reference ID books, REEF gear, and novelty items. The Store and Facilities Manager works closely with all REEF team members. They are responsible for the operation of the physical and online REEF Store, general facilities management, and supporting day-to-day accounting. For more information about the position and how to apply visit

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