REEF Survey’s and Experience Levels with IOP


4 times a week our research team heads out to collect data for the REEF Volunteer Fish Survey Project. REEF’s mission is to educate and enlist divers in the conservation of marine habitats, and is accomplished primarily through the Volunteer Fish Survey Project. The IOP research team collects and reports information on marine fish populations as well as selected invertebrate and algae species. The data is collected using a fun and easy standardized method and is housed in a publicly accessible database on REEF’s website. These data sets are used by a variety of resource agencies and researchers.


To collect data for this project, the research team uses the Roving Diver Technique (RDT), a visual survey method specifically designed for volunteer data. Divers swim freely throughout a dive site and record every observed fish species that can be positively identified. Species and approximate abundance are recorded on a pre-formatted underwater survey paper. Each recorded species is assigned one of four abundance categories based on about how many were seen throughout the dive; (1) Single, (2 – 10) Few, (11-100) Many, (100+) Abundant.


Each individual diver submits his/her data on to an online database back at the project headquarters in the afternoon. Once the researchers have completed the necessary amount of surveys and successfully completed the exam they will be certified with the REEF Level of Experience program.

LEVEL 2 – Beginning Surveyor: Requires an 80% on the Level 2 Quiz and the competition of 2 surveys.

Level 3 – Advanced Surveyor: Achieved by passing the Level 3 test with 80% and conducting 25 surveys.


For more information check out their website at


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