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.
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
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
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.