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Contact: Vanessa McDonough, 305-230-1144, x3091
On Saturday, July 21, 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. This event seeks to inspire recreational divers and snorkelers to assist in the monitoring of fish populations across the nation while adding a new purpose and element of challenge to dives. The park will host a free fish ID seminar at 8:30am, followed by a specially-priced afternoon snorkel or 2-tank dive trip at 12:30pm. Both the seminar and boat departure will take place at the park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center, located at 9700 SW 328 Street, near Homestead.
"Engaging the public in this type of resource activity serves to connect the community to the park", states Mark Lewis, Park Superintendent. "The Great Annual Fish Count provides an excellent opportunity for local divers and snorkelers to join park and REEF staff in monitoring park fisheries – a process that is critical to the conservation and management of Biscayne’s marine resources."
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.
To register to dive or snorkel, participants must contact BNUP (the park’s concessioner) at 305-230-1100 or by e-mail. Space is limited to 30 participants per trip. The discounted cost for the 2-tank dive trip is just $45 per diver (including tanks and weights) and $25 for snorkelers (mask, fins and snorkel included). A survey kit, which includes a special underwater slate, fish identification guide and survey forms, typically selling for $14.00, will be provided free of charge to the event participants. All other gear must be provided by the diver or rented, but rental gear quantities are limited. As time and lunch options are limited at the park, participants may wish to bring a lunch. To register for the seminar without the dive trip, contact Vanessa McDonough at 305-230-1144, x3091. Additional information is available at www.fishcount.org.