Great Annual Fish Count at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park

The Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) is an annual event conducted each July that introduces divers and snorkelers to the hobby of fish watching and to educate the public about marine resources. The event is coordinated by the Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (REEF) who trains volunteers to identify and document the abundance of different species of fish. The purpose of the GAFC is to encourage divers and snorkelers to participate in REEF’s year-round Volunteer Survey Project, raise awareness of marine habitats and trends in fish populations, and to provide researchers, marine resource managers, and policy makers with useful information in regards to fish populations.

Every year, volunteers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Southeast District, FDEP District 5 Parks, FDEP Aquatic Preserves, and SE Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission participate in a fish survey conducted at the St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park. The State Park has been conducting fish surveys of its offshore reef since 2002. Volunteers spend two days learning how to identify 200 species fish in both their adult and juvenile stages and are taught the Roving Diver Technique of surveying (http://www.reef.org/programs/volunteersurvey). Once the trainings are complete, volunteers spend a day on the St. Lucie Reef counting fish and other marine species. REEF coordinators then collect the data from volunteers and enter it into REEF’s online database. What a great way to spend the day!

For more information to see how you can volunteer, go to http://www.reef.org/ or http://www.fishcount.org/

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