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Contact: Howard Tritt, 305-230-1144, x3091
This July, 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. On Saturday, July 15, the park will host a free fish ID seminar at 8:30, followed by a specially-priced afternoon snorkel or 2-tank dive trip at 1:00. Both the seminar and boat departure will take place at the park’s DanteFascellVisitorCenter, located at 9700 SW 328 Street, near Homestead.
"Monitoring is critical to the conservation and management of marine resources," said Elsa Alvear, the park's Chief of Resources Management. "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."
To register to dive or snorkel, participants must contact BNUPI (the park’s concessioner) at 305-230-1100 or by e-mail at DiveBiscayne@bellsouth.net. Space is limited to 30 participants per trip. The discounted cost for the 2-tank dive trip is just $30 per diver (including tanks and weights) and $20 for snorkelers (mask, fins and snorkel included). 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. 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 Howard Tritt at 305-230-1144, x3091 or by e-mail at e-mail us. Additional information is available at www.fishcount.org.