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Marine Life Blog » Florida Diving, Jacksonville Diving, Reef Environmental Education Foundation » Diving in Jacksonville, the Great Annual Fish Count and a visit from Reefnet

Diving in Jacksonville, the Great Annual Fish Count and a visit from Reefnet

June 2009 – Jacksonville, FL

Back home from the Keys, we can’t send Claire back to New York without a birthday celebration. In what is now an annual tradition, Richard Salkin and John Hancock join us for the bonne fête and our son Doug, a trained chef, creates a fish-themed cake for Claire. This year he has her swimming with sharks.

Claire's cake

Claire's cake

We planned our schedule this year to be home most of the summer – the first time in almost five years! Ned and Paul are busy working on the Tropical Pacific invert book and I’m working on Sensational Seas Two, a DVD anthology of amazing underwater images from filmmakers and photographers around the world. The first DVD was produced as a fundraiser for REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation) and has almost completely sold out (visit to purchase a copy). The new edition, set to premiere in March 2010 promises to be even better

Sensational Seas Two DVD cover

Sensational Seas Two DVD cover

Earlier this year, Joe Kistel from the Jacksonville Reef Research Team stopped by to fill us in on a team project to create a new artificial reef off Jacksonville. The Spike, an old Coast Guard tender, most recently owned by the Safe Harbor Boys Home, is quite newsworthy because it will be the first deployment of an artificial reef in our area in over ten years.

The “Sink the Spike” project is a collaborative effort between the JRRT, the City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Offshore Sport Fishing Club. Prepping a vessel to serve as an artificial reef requires a LOT of cleaning in order to comply with environmental regulations that require removal of everything that might have a detrimental affect on marine life.  By the time I got out to the look at it, the volunteers were down to removing the last of the rust, paint and ceiling material. They had already spent weeks removing doors, hatches, walls and anything else that might break loose when it sinks. They’ve spent hundreds of hours in the last few months preparing for the projected mid-July deployment. Whew!!

Video: Cleaning the Spike

July 3, 2009 – Over twenty years ago, I completed the rigorous Reef Research Team training but have not been an active member of the team for some time. When team members contacted REEF to inquire about hosting a North Florida Great Annual Fish Count (GAFC) this July, I was able to volunteer to help out. Staying close to home during the summer, when Jacksonville diving is at its best, gives us a chance to dive the rich and diverse ledges and wrecks. Here’s a bit of video from our Lionfish collecting trip offshore with Lad from REEF:

Video: Offshore Jax Ledge

The GAFC, an international event, is now in its 18th year. REEF sponsors free fish identification classes where volunteer divers are taught how to identify fish and use REEF’s survey method to collect fish census data, which is kept in REEF’s publicly accessible database. The local community is signing on to the JRRT’s efforts in a big way, with sponsored classes from six dive shops so far, big coverage in our local newspaper and donations from businesses for prizes and raffles. The GAFC’s official website is

Any, Les and Keri Wilk (our ReefNet friends) stopped by this week on their way home from diving the Blue Heron Bridge in Palm Beach. We missed Kris, who is at home minding the store with his new bride, Daniela. We had a fun afternoon talking fish with fellow fishwatchers and Keri shared some of his shots from this trip. It also gave us a chance to talk shop about our upcoming collaborative effort on the Caribbean Creature DVD.

Talking Fish with the Wilks

Ned and Eric talking Fish with the Wilks

We are heading to Palm Beach later this month after we return from Baja. Fish ID classes, Baja diving aboard the Rocio del Mar, the Blue Heron Bridge and Offshore Jacksonville – we’re looking forward to an exciting July! ~ ~ Anna DeLoach

Filed under: Florida Diving, Jacksonville Diving, Reef Environmental Education Foundation · Tags: , , ,

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