The Great Annual Fish Count

(a.k.a. Great American Fish Count)

  The Great Annual Fish Count is a national event which takes place every July. Each year local organizations conduct basic fish identification seminars and the method of conducting surveys using the Roving Diver Technique (RDT). The “Great Annual Fish Count” (GAFC) is a national, central organizing 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 sanctuaries and coastal areas.  This annual event takes place during July, and serves both to introduce and inspire recreational divers and snorkelers to: participate in REEF's year-round volunteer monitoring programs; 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.

Our Role in the Fish Count

The REEF Field Station of the Northern Gulf of Mexico (REEFNGOM) has not only established the first REEF surveys in Pensacola, Florida, but has also started a 'fish count fever' in the Panhandle. During the first year of the Field Station, 1999, the Field Station organized the first GAFC in Pensacola with great success. Then GAFC national coordinator, Bryan Huff, was eager to get the new GAFC Fish Counter Cards off the ground. These cards available to participants to show participating dive operators that they are eligible for the discounts these sponsors have offered for the event. The Field Station received sponsorship from nearly every dive store and charter in the area, and was the only GAFC group to put the cards to use. (For information on our sponsors for the GAFC, please visit our GAFC Sponsors page.) With radio, television, internet, and newspaper publicity, the first Pensacola GAFC was welcomed with great attendance. The data from the first and second years of the Pensacola GAFC were also compiled by the Field Station in reports to the Escambia County Artificial Reef Program as the sole monitoring effort on the progress of their reefs. For the third year, we were proud to introduce the GAFC to Panama City and Destin in addition to the Pensacola seminars and dives. This year, we have rounded up several more prizes for our drawing, including our largest prize from Hydrospace Dive Shop of FOUR FREE DIVE SPOTS ON THEIR CHARTER! Two seminars conducted by the Field Station are scheduled in Pensacola at 6 p.m. and at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 19th with optional coordinated dives on July 20th and 21st. The Panama City seminar will be on Saturday, July 27th at 10 a.m. and the Destin seminar will be at 6 p.m. Coordinated dives for these two cities will follow on the 28th and be coordinated by Dixie Divers and Hydrospace for Panama City and ScubaTech for Destin.

SEMINARS ARE CONTINGENT UPON SUFFICIENT REGISTRATION. DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION FOR PENSACOLA IS WEDNESDAY, JULY 17th AT 9PM CST. DEADLINE FOR PC AND DESTIN IS WEDNESDAY, JULY 24th AT 9PM, SO PLEASE CONTACT US ASAP!

Details

-- GAFC Seminars are free of charge, but you must pre-register to attend.

-- Starter survey kits will be available at a minimal cost ($10 in most Pacific sites, $14 at south Atlantic sites, $15 in New England and Pacific Northwest), that will include a slate, color ID card and underwater paper.  The south Atlantic (Florida, Georgia, Texas) kits will also include the waterproof Fish-in-a-Pocket booklet.  These do not need to be purchased ahead of time, and these special prices are only available at GAFC seminars and dive events.  New GAFC 2002 T-Shirts will also be available for $10.

-- To participate in a seminar, you need to register via email or call (504) 276-4887. Please indicate the seminar you will attend, your name, phone number, email and regular address.

-- With specific questions about the seminar location or times, please email the REEF Field Station of the Northern Gulf of Mexico.

To read about the results of the 2001 GAFC's conducted by the Field Station, please see our online copy of our follow-up article in Florida Scuba News.

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