Bank Sanctuary Introduces
REEF's Fish Identification Program and
Great American Fish Count to Boston Area Divers
Anne Smrcina, 781-545-8026, ext. 204
- Would you like to help build a record of the type and number
of fish in local waters? Are you curious about changes in fish
populations? Are you interested in using your next ocean dives
to help educate others about the species in local marine waters?
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Reef Environmental
Education Foundation have just the program for you. A new Fish
Identification Program is being introduced to divers in the Gulf
of Maine at the Boston Sea Rovers Underwater Clinic on March 3
(11-11:45am). The ID program, as well as a nationwide fish awareness
program called the Great American Fish Count, will be covered
in a seminar sponsored by the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary.
fish identification and data collection program is part of a national
effort sponsored by REEF that has already reached the Caribbean,
the Gulf of Mexico, the West Coast of California and Mexico, the
Pacific Northwest and Hawaii, with support from the National Marine
Sanctuary System. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
is heading up the effort for New England.
in the Gulf of Maine, including Stellwagen Bank National Marine
Sanctuary" has been prepared by the Sanctuary to serve as the
local component of Module Eight of the PADI Project AWARE Fish
Identification Specialty. The local curriculum, developed by the
Sanctuary in association with REEF, covers the major species that
might be seen by divers either in the Sanctuary or closer to shore.
Graduates of the course then become part of a massive data gathering
force that is providing information about the types and numbers
of fish in coastal waters.
at Stellwagen Bank can be quite challenging due to its depth,
its distance from shore, its cold temperatures, and its varying
currents," notes sanctuary education coordinator Anne Smrcina.
"While we are interested in learning more about the resources
within the boundaries of the Sanctuary (which is located between
Cape Ann and Cape Cod at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay), we here
at the Sanctuary are also fully committed to raising awareness
about all of the marine species in our local waters. The "Fishwatching"
program is an excellent way for divers to assist in building public
awareness of local biodiversity and to assist scientists in assessing
in the fish identification program may also participate in the
annual Great American Fish Count, which will run from July 1-31
this year. The Great American Fish Count, sponsored by REEF, has
been compared to the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count. It offers
an invaluable record of fish populations and, in turn, an indication
of the health of our inshore coastal environment.
Bank National Marine Sanctuary Volunteer Dive Team leader Bob
Michelson, an underwater photographer and videographer, has been
a key player in the development of the curriculum and support
materials. He has been assisted by team member Doug Costa, a PADI
Master Instructor and Manager at Diver's Market in Plymouth. Rounding
out the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary volunteer dive team are Stephen
Neuger and Rob Murray, both experienced deep water divers.
Michelson and Anne Smrcina will be presenters at the Sat. program,
entitled Great American Fish Count in the Gulf of Maine. Bob Michelson
will also offer a Sunday afternoon program (4-4:45) on the NOAA
Diving Program and the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary Volunteer Team.
Boston Sea Rovers is one of the country's oldest and most prestigious
dive clubs; this is their 47th annual underwater clinic and show.
Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is one
of 13 sites in the National Marine Sanctuary System. This historically
important fishing ground and prime whalewatching site was designated
a National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. The 842-square-mile site
is located at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay between Cape Ann
and Cape Cod; its headquarters are located in Scituate, Mass.