Take a vacation that counts!

It is amazing how much more rewarding diving becomes when you learn the names of the fishes you swim with on the reef. There is no better way to get started than by joining a REEF Field Survey. The annual series of weeklong events have been held at premiere dive resorts, from the Bahamas to Hawaii, for more than a decade. Participants not only learn fish identification skills, but also become familiar with marine wildlife survey methods. By week's end divers will have started a life list of species, and acquired the know-how to become volunteer survey divers.

Plenty of diving fun and free time is built into a memorable vacation that will change the way you dive forever. For more information, contact REEF at P.O. Box 246 Key Largo, FL 33037 USA or visit www.reef.org

Reef Environmental Education Foundation

REEF is truly a grassroots volunteer organization that depends on a large network of enthusiastic recreational divers to donate both their time and support under and above water. The Foundation's mission, to educate and enlist divers in the conservation of marine habitats, is accomplished primarily through the Fish Survey Project, which utilizes volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish population trends.

The Project was developed in 1990 with support from The Nature Conservancy and with guidance from the Southeast Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Sighting data are housed in a publicly accessible database on REEF's website. Today, marine ecologists from NOAA's Marine Sanctuary Program, the State of Florida, conservation groups, as well as Caribbean and Bahamas environmental protection offices and marine parks rely on the unique information provided by REEF to make management decisions.

Each year thousands of trained recreational divers, using REEF's standardized Roving Diver protocol, survey fish and targeted marine species in tropical waters throughout the world. Much like their terrestrial counterparts − bird watchers − REEF volunteers enter sighting data and the relative abundance of species on underwater forms. After the dive, their survey information is transferred onto computer scan forms, or submitted online. Before entry into the database, a REEF scientist carefully monitors all data for discrepancies. Currently, more than 20,000 surveys are submitted annually by REEF volunteer divers, creating the world's largest marine life sighting database.

In 2002, with generous funding from the Mahoney Foundation and membership contributions, REEF moved into the REEF House, its headquarters located in Key Largo, Florida. REEF's small, dedicated staff continues to grow its volunteer base and expand its mission by taking on vital marine life projects such as Grouper Moon, an ongoing survey of annual spawning aggregations, the Great Annual Fish Count, the Exotic Species Awareness Campaign, as well as numerous community outreach and educational programs.