Lifestyle

Divers counting fish heads

Mirror staff

Local divers in the Puget Sound and other Washington marine waters are surveying fish and invertebrates for the 10th Great Annual Fish Count throughout July.

The national event is coordinated by REEF Environmental Education Foundation, with support from the National Marine Sanctuaries Program.

Volunteer divers and snorkelers across the nation are helping peg fish populations. In the Pacific Northwest, divers are monitoring populations of 44 invertebrate species in what is considered the underwater equivalent of the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count and recorded on-line at www.reef.org.

Divers can register for the event at www.fishcount.org. To participate, they need an underwater slate, computer survey scan forms and a comprehensive fish identification book.

REEF trains volunteer divers and snorkelers in identifying and documenting fish diversity and population trends in marine sanctuaries and other coastal areas. The fish count serves to introduce and inspire recreational divers and snorkelers to participate in year-round volunteer fish monitoring programs, raise awareness among divers and the public at large regarding marine habitats and trends in fish populations, and provide researchers, marine resource managers, and policymakers with information.

In this month's count, divers can qualify for a national grand-prize drawing for a weeklong diving vacation at in the Bahamas. Regional prizes will be awarded in the Pacific Northwest Region.

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