[Coral-List] REEF Fish Database Tops 75k

Christy Pattengill-Semmens christy at reef.org
Mon Nov 1 14:52:55 EST 2004

REEF Fish Survey Database Hits NEW Milestone

For over ten years, REEF has been compiling one of the largest fish 
sightings database in the world. The database has reached a significant 
milestone by passing the 75,000 individual survey mark. This is an 
increasingly powerful and valuable data set that is frequently used by 
natural resource managers, policy makers, and researchers to make 
informed decisions about fish populations throughout much of the Western 
Hemisphere.  Data summaries are available through  REEF's website 
(www.reef.org) and raw data is available upon request.

Aside from being the largest data set of its kind, another unique aspect 
of it is that the entirety of these data have been gathered by trained 
volunteer recreational divers and snorkelers. This type of effort, often 
called "citizen science," provides a cost-effective and accurate picture 
of living fish populations in our oceans. Frequently, groups who need 
and use this critical data, such as the US National Marine Sanctuary 
System and the US National Park Service, do not have the resources in 
money or manpower to conduct such extensive looks at the fish 
populations in their area. The REEF program, known as the "Fish Survey 
Project," is a powerful conservation tool that assists them in acquiring 
this critical information.

"Seventy Five Thousand fish population surveys by volunteers are a 
powerful statement about how recreational divers can become personally 
involved in helping preserve the marine environment," said Paul Humann, 
noted fish identification author and photographer and REEF co-founder.

Volunteer divers and snorkelers involved in this program have been 
trained in fish species identification and survey techniques using a 
methodology specially designed by REEF that allows individuals to 
conduct fish censuses anytime they are in the water in one of our 
designated survey regions. These survey regions are widespread and span 
much of the Western Hemisphere. Volunteers are able to contribute to 
marine conservation during their normal dive activities without altering 
their normal dive plans or habits. Additionally, REEF provides other 
opportunities to participate in special focused projects as well as 
organized activities such as the Great Annual Fish Count and REEF Field 
Surveys. This approach has allowed REEF to engage thousands of 
individuals in the process. Membership in the organization, founded in 
1990, is free and REEF now boasts more than 28,000 members.

"REEF represents the best in volunteerism.  If more service-based 
non-profits had the combination of dedication and determination of REEF, 
conservation in the United States would be much better off.  Through 
sheer hard work and sacrifice, REEF has set the bar high for other 
conservation groups, but has been unselfish in helping them develop and 
improve their programs.  We need more REEFs!" Said Dr. Steve Gittings, 
Research Coordinator for NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System, one of 
the primary users of REEF data.


Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D.
Scientific Coordinator
Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)

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