The Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) is an event coordinated by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) that mobilizes and trains volunteer divers and snorkelers in established methodologies to identify and document fish diversity and population trends in marine ecosystems.
This annual event takes place the month of July, and serves to introduce and inspire recreational divers and snorkelers to: participate in REEF’s year-round Volunteer Survey Project; raise awareness among both the diving community and public-at-large regarding marine habitats and trends in fish populations; and provide researchers, marine resource managers and policy makers with this useful information that would otherwise be unavailable.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]:
How can I participate? Attend a training seminar and then conduct fish surveys at your favorite dive spots. Survey data are then reported back to REEF via an online submission form (paper scanforms also available).
How do I organize a GAFC event? The success of the GAFC depends on local volunteers, organizations and dive clubs who are willing to organize identification seminars and survey dives. Visit the GAFC Organizer Page to find out more.
Do I have to be an expert to help? No. The GAFC and continual volunteer monitoring supported by REEF employ an easy to learn, fun survey method, developed for use with volunteer divers. Basic identification skills are all that are needed. Attending a training seminar will get you well on your way to becoming an identification wizard. All it takes is practice.
Can I only conduct fish surveys during July?No. While the GAFC is a great time to get new divers involved in fish counting and to raise the public’s awareness of the marine environment and volunteer activities, we need data year round. Survey and training materials are available from REEF.
What happens to the data that volunteers collect?Once survey forms are submitted to REEF, the data are processed via REEF’s standardized data management and quality control protocols and then are uploaded into a centralized database that is available on REEF’s website. In addition to use by the general and diving public, the data are available to scientists and resource managers.
How can I do more to support REEF and the Great Annual Fish Count? The GAFC serves to raise awareness about REEF and its marine conservation efforts and hopes to instill in participants a desire to actively stay involved year-round. You can do more by surveying whenever you get the chance. Also, REEF offers a no-fee membership to interested individuals. In order to assist REEF in continuing to offer this great opportunity, you could make a donation to REEF.