Common Sea Fans (<em>Gorgonia ventilina</em>) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventilina) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Photo: Chantal Collier

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Photo: Joe Marino

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Southeast Florida Reef News

Earth Month offers four different classes for southeast Florida community members

Ana Zangroniz, Awareness and Appreciation Coordinator

Have you ever been in the water and not quite sure the type of fish you’ve seen? Or are you ready to step up your coral identification skillset? Then please join the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Coral Reef Conservation Program this spring for a series of free educational classes. These classes are in honor of Earth Month and a part of the Baynanza festivities hosted by Miami-Dade County. The classes are FREE but since space is limited, please RSVP to: coral@dep.state.fl.us. Eight students minimum are needed for the class to go forward.

 

Classes will be held at:

Biscayne Bay Environmental Center

1277 NE 79th Street

Miami, FL 33138

 

The course offerings and dates are as follows:

 

Stony Coral Identification: Tuesday, April 7, 12 – 3 p.m. OR Thursday, April 9, 6 – 9 p.m.

Description: This course will introduce you to the thirty most common species of stony corals found offshore Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. A knowledge review will be administered at the end of the class and all participants will receive a resource CD-ROM of the presentation from the course for future reference.

 

SEAFAN BleachWatch: Tuesday, April 14, 12 – 2 p.m. OR Thursday, April 16, 6 – 8 p.m. Description: SEAFAN BleachWatch helps to detect and monitor coral bleaching events in southeast Florida and improve scientific understanding. Recreational, commercial and scientific divers are encouraged to become part of the BleachWatch Observer Network by participating in a training session. These 1.5 hour sessions include an introduction to the Southeast Florida Action Network (SEAFAN), a short lesson on coral biology/bleaching, a description of the BleachWatch Early Warning Program, and an overview of how to properly assess coral condition, record observations, and submit reports. All participants will be provided with a BleachWatch Kit, which includes a program overview, coral bleaching fact sheet, data sheets, data sheet instructions, dive whistle, and coral ID and bleaching example cards to use as a reference below and above the water.

 

Marine Invertebrate Identification: Tuesday, April 21, 12 – 3 p.m. OR Thursday, April 23, 6 – 9 p.m.

Description: The most common sponges, octocorals (soft corals), crustaceans, echinoderms, and mollusks that you are likely to encounter while diving or snorkeling on southeast Florida’s coral reefs will be introduced in this course. A knowledge review will be administered at the end of the class and all participants will receive a resource CD-ROM of the presentation from the course for future reference.

 

REEF Fish Identification: Tuesday, April 28, 12 – 3 p.m. OR Thursday, April 30, 6 – 9 p.m.

Description: This is a beginner course that teaches the basics of “fish watching,” including how to identify the 50 most commonly sighted species in the tropical western Atlantic. A knowledge review will be administered at the end of the training. Anyone scoring 80% or better and who goes on to complete two fish surveys can become an Experience Level 2 volunteer for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF).

The REEF Fish Survey Project is a volunteer fish monitoring program that enables volunteer SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations. The data are collected using a fun and easy standardized method, the Roving Diver Technique, and are housed in a publicly accessible database on REEF's website. Data collected by REEF volunteers are used for public education and by a variety of resource management agencies and researchers. For more information on REEF, go to: www.REEF.org.

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