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January 2008    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 34, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Survey Fish Year Round

from the January, 2008 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

You don’t have to take a REEF dive trip to participate in its fish counts. The nonprofit encourages divers to do it whenever and wherever they go diving in waters from Canada down to the Galapagos, with the same materials and methods used on their trips.

For beginning divers, REEF has just adapted its classroom course into a home-study DVD package. “Reef Fish Identification – A Beginning Course,” which teaches the fishwatching basics, includes identification of 50 commonly sighted species found in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida. The DVD costs $55 and includes a waterproof fish ID booklet, underwater survey slate and REEF survey materials. Order either online at, or call REEF at 305-852-0030.

Volunteers use the same Roving Diver Technique our writer describes in the Kona story. The only materials needed are a slate and pencil, one of REEF’s free scantron forms available at its online web store, and a good fish ID book. The goal is to find as many species as possible, so divers are encouraged to look under ledges and up in the water column. Divers in California and Pacific Northwest waters can also take part in monitoring programs for algae and invertebrates such as anemones, starfish, and sponges.

Forms can be mailed to REEF or submitted on their online data entry site. All the data is housed in a publicly accessible database on REEF’s Web site and is used by multiple marine agencies and researchers. Besides helping U.S. and Caribbean environmental protection agencies get good data to rely on, you’ll have better dive experiences while you realize who are the usual suspects and which species is a fantastic find.

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