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Great American Fish Count

In July, 2005 Biscayne National Park and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), in cooperation with the Biscayne National Underwater Park, Inc. (BNUPI), will host the Great Annual Fish Count, an event that seeks to inspire recreational divers and snorkelers to aid scientists in monitoring fish populations across the nation. Local events include reef fish identification seminars and specially-priced dive/snorkel trips to the parkís reefs where seminar participants can practice newfound skills. This yearís Count has been designated a Take Pride in America event, part of a national campaign to promote public and private partnerships encouraging stewardship of the nationís public lands.
"Monitoring is critical to the conservation and management of marine resources," said Todd Kellison, the park's Fishery Biologist. "The Great Annual Fish Count provides an excellent opportunity for divers and snorkelers to participate in the scientific process, while also adding a new purpose and element of challenge to dives."

The valuable data collected by volunteers is entered into a database accessible to researchers, resource managers and policy makers, enabling them to make better, more informed decisions regarding marine resource protection. "For divers who have no training as naturalists, areas begin to blend and the attitude that 'it's just another coral reef' prevails, said REEF's Scientific Coordinator Christy Semmens. By learning identification techniques and recording fish sightings, REEF surveyors become keen observers, true naturalists."

Dates for the 2005 events are:

Saturdays, July 16 and 30 a free fish ID seminar at 9:00, followed by a specially-priced afternoon snorkel or dive at 1:30 at Biscayne National Parkís Dante Fascell Visitor Center Auditorium, located at 9700 SW 328 Street, near Homestead

Thursday, July 14 and Wednesday, July 27 free fish ID seminars from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. at the John D. Campbell Agricultural Center auditorium, located at 18710 SW 288 Street, Homestead

To register, participants must contact BNUPI (the parkís concessioner) at 305-230-1100 or by email at Space is limited to 30 participants per trip. Thanks to special funding through Take Pride in America, the cost for the dive trip is just $35 per diver (including weights) and $25 for snorkelers. A survey kit, which includes a special underwater slate, fish identification guide and survey forms will be available for purchase from REEF at a discounted price of $7.00. All other gear must be provided by the diver or rented, but rental gear quantities are limited. To register for the seminar without the dive trip, contact Howard Tritt at 305-230-1144, x3091 or by email at Additional information is available at


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