Undertaking REEF Fish Surveys

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Every week Oceans Unlimited interns will be conducting REEF fish surveys!reef survey

How does someone conduct a REEF survey?

  • Using the Roving Diver Technique (RDT)
    • Divers swim freely throughout a dive site and record every observed fish species that can be positively identified
    • Species and approximate abundance of the species is recorded on a slate
  • Record every species seen
    • Brush up on your knowledge of fish species in your area (REEF.org)
    • If you do not know the species write a description of the fish’s physical appearance to look it up after
    • Use an underwater slate  to record species
      • An example of a fish slate that makes recording easy:REEF fish slate
    • Record the abundance of each fish species by numerical values of:
      • Single (S)
      • Few (F) 2-10 sightings
      • Many (M) 11-100 sightings
      • Abundant (A) over 100 sightings
  • Once you have all the data submit it online!

So who can complete these REEF surveys? 

  • All new REEF members
  • There are two levels of REEF surveyors
    • Novice and Expert
    • There are tests that can be taken online and in person to qualify for an expert level surveyor (go to reef.org)
  • REEF project areas are shown below:




What is the significance of recording this data

  • Many scientist have used the REEF studies to conduct scientific experiments and publish their findings
  • REEF data has been used for scientific reports including:
    • Fisheries research
    • Ecological applications
    • Evolutionary applications
    • Coral reef studies
    • Conservation studies
  • Check out these publications which have all included REEF data

You can also come dive with Oceans Unlimited Costa Rica and conduct a fish survey weekly!

  • Doing reef surveys will change your diving experience completely
    • Find fish that you never seemed to notice!
    • Learn the impact that the different fish have on the coral reef system!
    • Get excited about spotting certain species that sustain the reefs!
    • Become a scientist!
    • Enjoy diving while making a difference!

Be sure to check out our Go Pro Website every week to check out our findings!

reef survey1