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November 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Rocio Del Mar, Southern Sea of Cortez, Mexico

counting fish with REEF

from the November, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation -- REEF -- was founded 30 years ago to train sport divers to identify and count fish species to aid scientists, much like birders help the Audubon Society. In October, I joined a REEF trip to the southern Sea of Cortez, led by REEF's communications manager and all-around fish geek, badass tech diver, and dive gearhead Amy Lee. I'm no slouch when it comes to fish identification, but boy, did I learn a lot.

MY. Rocio del MarI boarded the 110-foot Rocio del Mar around 5.00 PM at the San Jose del Cabo Marina to be welcomed aboard by Captain Nestor and divemasters Victor, Josť, and Mauro. I unpacked, stowed my gear, and showed my certifications, then helped myself to the tray of snacks that preceded our first dinner. Twenty divers can be housed in the ten compact cabins, mostly outfitted with twin bunks set at right angles, ensuite bathrooms, and limited storage, so I packed light.

Unlike a conventional dive trip, we divers had work to do. REEF gave each diver a slate with a preprinted underwater survey paper listing the fish we might see. We were to record what we saw and estimate their abundance (a single fish, few, many, or abundant). After the trip, we were to enter our information into REEF's database.

Each morning included an entertaining fish identification class. Amy, speaking with grace and humor, showed photos from the early morning dive, reviewing fish we had seen and adding new ones to look for and identify. By the end of the trip, I had mastered a surprising number....


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