Annual Fish Count
first official Great American Fish Count dive in the Gulf
of Maine was sponsored by the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary
on July 1, 2001 in Marshfield, MA. The group used fish identification
photo ID cards, underwater paper and other materials produced
by REEF in conjunction with the Sanctuary. The divers taking
part in this event were (left to right): Steve Neuger, Bob
Michelson, Andy Martinez, Bob Murray, Chris Ostrom, and
Candace Martinez. SBNMS photo.
Great Annual Fish Count is to divers and fish what the Christmas
bird count is to birdwatchers and birds. Each July, divers across
the country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Great Lakes
to the Gulf of Mexico, along with counters in Central and South
America, and Canada, venture into the water to count the variety
and numbers of fishes in their localities. This information is
filed with the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF)
in a detailed database that can be searched by counter's name,
species, dive site, or date.
is a national, central organizing event 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 month-long event
serves both to introduce and inspire recreational divers and snorkelers
to: participate in 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.
coordinates the GAFC with support from the National Marine Sanctuaries.
To find out more about the GAFC, REEF or the fish database, visit
REEF's web site. For divers interested in fish counting, here's
how you can get involved:
a Training Seminar
Divers are encouraged to attend training sessions in fish identification.
Several seminars have been offered in communities around New England
throughout the year. Check our Calendar listings for Fish ID classes.
a Survey Dive
After taking a fishwatching course, dives are encouraged to conduct
a fish survey on their next dive. Waterproof paper for underwater
recording of data are available free of charge from the sanctuary
and REEF. Dive stores and groups are encouraged to organize and
conduct group survey dives or adopt a site to visit on a regular
Submit Your Data
All fish survey data needs to be submitted on the computer-readable
SCANTRON forms. These are also available from the Stellwagen Bank
National Marine Sanctuary and REEF.
View Your Data
All volunteer survey data, collected during the GAFC or otherwise,
are uploaded onto the REEF web site. Click
here to visit the Fish Database.