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On Saturday, July 19, Biscayne National Park and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), in cooperation with the Biscayne Underwater Park, Inc. 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 local event will commence at 8:30 a.m. with a free reef fish identification session and an introduction to the fun and easy survey methods. The afternoon session, 12:30-5 p.m. will be dedicated to putting new skills to use on a specially-priced dive/snorkel trip to two of the park's reefs.
"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 staff in monitoring Biscayne's fisheries – a process that is critical to the conservation and management of our 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.
Great Annual Fish Count participants at Biscayne National Park must register by contacting Biscayne Underwater Park, Inc. the park's concessioner, at 305-230-1100 to reserve a place on the boat. Space is limited to 30 participants.
The discounted price for the 2-tank dive trip is just $65.00 per diver (tanks and weights included) and $38.00 for snorkelers (mask, fins, and snorkel included). A REEF survey kit, which includes a special waterproof fish identification guide, a slate, and required survey forms (typically selling for $18.00) is available for only $10.00. All other gear must be provided by the participant or rented. Call the park's concessioner to reserve rental gear as quantities are limited.
Both the seminar and boat departure will take place at the park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center, located at 9700 SW 328 Street, nine miles east of Homestead and adjacent to Homestead Bayfront County Park and Marina. For directions to the park, call 305-230-PARK (7275).
As lunch time and options are limited at the park, participants may wish to bring a lunch. Contact Max Tritt at 305-230-1144, x3091 or logon to www.fishcount.org and www.nps.gov/bisc for additional information.