Formal Educators - Did you know that if your participate in a REEF Field Survey Trip, as a scuba diver or snorkeler, you are eligible to receive continuing education credits from University of California at San Diego? What a great way to spend a summer or other break in the water counting fish, contributing to citizen science, and bringing back engaging experience and lessons to your students. Check out upcoming REEF Trip at, and read below to find out more about the program and how to earn your credit hours.

About REEF Field Survey Trips

The Volunteer Fish Survey Project (VFSP) is REEF’s cornerstone citizen science program. Started in 1993, the VFSP engages SCUBA divers and snorkelers to collect and report information on marine fish populations, as well as sea turtles and select invertebrate and algae species (in temperate regions only.) One of the most effective and powerful ocean citizen science programs, it has generated the world’s largest database of marine fishes. The data are being used to better understand and protect ocean ecosystems worldwide.

REEF Field Survey Trips study the diversity and abundance of fish species found within a selected project region. Each diving day, participants use slates and underwater paper to record the fish species they see while snorkeling or diving. If you aren’t familiar with all your fish families and species prior to coming on the trip, there are ample learning opportunities during daily fish ID classes taught by one of a REEF marine life expert, as well as through interaction with other trip participants. Once the trip is complete, participants may upload their valuable survey data into REEF’s online program.

Past trips have gathered total species counts numbering in the hundreds, and have even uncovered elusive and unexpected species. Using REEF data, submitted by citizen scientists, researchers are making exciting new discoveries and monitoring marine ecosystems, and policymakers have high-quality, accessible information to make sound conservation and management decisions.

During your experience you will learn about:

  • Fish identification and key characteristics
  • Fish behavior and adaptations
  • Coral reef ecology, including human impacts, invasive species, and the role fish play in the ecosystem 
  • Citizen science, data collection and survey methods

Steps to obtain teacher education credit from UCSD

  1. Find a trip you want to attend, visit here to see all travel opportunities
  2. Sign up for your trip at
  3. Reach out to to inform us that you are an educator attending a trip and are interested in obtaining credit
  4. Go to UCSD Extended Studies to sign up for your class: EDUC-4229,  Reef Environmental Education Foundation- Volunteer Fish Survey Project for Educators

Opportunities for financial support to participate in a REEF Trip

In 2023, REEF launched the Educator in the Field Fellowship. Learn more here -