REEF Information

2013 GAFC Recap
2012 GAFC Recap
2011 GAFC Recap
2010 GAFC Recap
2009 GAFC Recap
2008 GAFC recap

Jonathan Bird filmed an episode of his PBS show at the 2012 GAFC. You can view it on the Blue World Website

The GAFC was featured in an article in May 2012 issue of New England Diving News. Click here to view the full page story!

The Gloucester Times did a great story on the 2009 event, view it here

How can I help out?
If you would like to donate prizes, coordinate a site, or to sign up to dive, contact our shore dive coordinator. To help with the setup, contact our environmental coordinator

What are the requirements to participate?
You must be a member of REEF to submit a survey. You must also pre-register using this form. Before diving, you must fill out the liability waiver and bring it with you to the dive.

What kind of raffle prizes are there?
We have raised thousands of dollars worth of prizes in the past, ranging from dive vacations to masks and regulartors.

How Does it work?
Simply fill out a survey for the fish you are seeing, and turn the forms in at Stage Fort Park before 2:00PM

When is the raffle Drawing?
The drawing will be held at 3:00PM

How much does it cost?
Stage fort park charges $15.00 for parking (free parking is also available nearby), and the NEADC is asking for $5 for food.

Great Annual Fish Count

How the GAFC Works

On the morning of the event, participants go for a dive, swim, etc and pay attention to what fish they see and how many there are. Then, after the dive we meet at Stage Fort Park and eat some great food while we fill out a survey of what we saw on each dive. Experts are on hand to help identify any confusing species.

At lunch, each participant gets a raffle ticket, and afterwards a drawing is held for prizes that range from diving vacations to scuba masks

What is the Great Annual Fish Count?
New England's GAFC is part of an annual REEF event to celebrate volunteer fish monitoring and provides an introduction to REEF's Fish Survey Project for divers and snorkelers. Leading up to the event, which takes place each July, local partners organize free fish ID seminars. The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program provides support for the GAFC and event activities focus on Sanctuary sites including: Channel Islands NMS, Florida Keys NMS, Flower Garden Banks NMS, Gray's Reef NMS, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS, Monterey Bay NMS, Olympic Coast NMS, Stellwagen Bank NMS. For more information on the GAFC events across the country and to see a list of seminars and other activities, visit the website at

How many people attend the event?

2009 was our largest event with 119 divers, who submitted 140 total surveys, but a typical year is around 90-100 divers. We are consistantly the largest single-day REEF fish count event in the country, even beating out warm-water destinations like Florida and Hawaii. Divers typically bring their families so actual number of attendees is much higher.

Do I have to be an expert to identify fish?

No. We use a REEF ciriculum to help identify common species using easy-to-remember markings. It is an easy to learn, fun survey method, developed for use with volunteer divers. Basic identification skills are all that are needed. REEF, the NEADC and other clubs hold training seminars online and in person throughout the year, and there are plenty of opportunites to brush up on your skills.

Can I only conduct fish surveys during the GAFC?

No. While the GAFC is a great time to get new divers involved in fish counting and to raise the public's awareness of the marine environment and volunteer activities, we need data year round. Once you learn the skills, the survey forms are online, and you can count fish on every dive.

What happens to the data that volunteers collect?

Once survey information is submitted online to REEF, the data are processed via REEF's standardized data management and quality control protocols and then are uploaded into a centralized database that is available on REEF's website. In addition to use by the general and diving public, the data are available to scientists and resource managers. Click here to view some examples

GAFC Details

Participants need to have a REEF Member # prior to the day of the event.  A REEF member # is required in order to do a survey and then hand it in to get a raffle ticket.  The process is painless:

Most dives begin at 8 am, with Maine dives starting at 7am. Sites with Coordinators are listed below, Sign up using our form before July 1st to sign up for a dive. If there are any questions, email Joy Marzolf.

Be sure to fill out the liability waiver and bring it to your dive. The site coordinator will collect them.

After the dives, participants fill out their surveys, and meet at Stage Fort Park. The survey papers are handed in and participants get 1 raffle ticket. (1 raffle ticket / diver no matter how many surveys are handed in).The diver can choose what grand prize they wish to go for, only 1 prize per diver can be won. - New this year: raffle winners have a choice of prizes, and you must be present to win.

There will be food and drinks for sale, as well as a touch-tank and many other activities. Water, lemonade, and ice tea will be available for free, bring your own water bottle to help the environment!

The surveys must be handed in by 2:00 pm, we will have a group photo at 2:30 and and the raffle is drawn at 3 pm. The Grand prizes are pulled 1st followed by general raffle prizes drawn in order of descending value. You must be present to win (or have someone designated to pick up your prize) We will not be mailing prizes out.

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