The Reef Environmental Education Foundation is in the fish business. Well, the counting fish business. They have over 175,000 surveys and 14,000 volunteers! I, SCUBASiren Lindsay, recently recently became a volunteer, which is as easy as making an account on their website REEF.org.
The technique REEF uses for fish identification will not affect your dive- – it is called the Roving Diver Technique. All you as the diver or snorkeler is go on your planned dive and write down the fish that you see and know how to identify. You don´t even have to “count” every single fish! REEF uses codes for how many you see- S is for single, F (few) is for 2-10, M (many) is for 11-100, and A (abundant) is for 101+.
REEF has cool slates to make your fish identification easier, which you can find at any Field Station (find locations through their website) or through their online store. I´ve also found that having a fish identification book or slates on hand is very helpful.
You don´t dive? No problem, you can snorkel to do surveys.
Why is this data important? Agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) use this data! As a volunteer, you also have access to the REEF database.
Lastly, as a member, you have access to REEF´s “Fishinars,” which are online webinars hosted by REEF volunteers and experts to help you learn more about fish identification in depth.
Where do I sign up? REEF.org What do I need to do the survey? A slate, a pencil, and some fish ID knowledge How can I get those things? Contact your local dive center and REEF Field Station (which can be found through the REEF.org website) Where can I survey? Anywhere in the water! You can even snorkel.