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Fish Surveying Specialty

A main effort of the Palm Beach County Reef Research Team is to conduct fish counts on the artificial reefs of the county. Fish counts are conducted on each dive, using two basic counting methodologies.

To be qualified to conduct a fish count, a diver must have passed a written fish test with a score of 90% or higher on a random sample of fish taken from the Master Fish List. The test is given before most monthly meetings, and each counter must requalify annually. Additionally, counters getting their first certification must also do their first few dive trips accompanied by a certified fish counter who counts from the same ID station and checks the fish counts of the trainee, to verify accuracy. When the trainee becomes successful at this, they are certified to count fish on their own.

Fish ID Training

There is no requirement for a diver to attend a fish training class in order to take the test. If you know your fish, just take the test and head for the in-water signoff process.

For those who want some training, there are 3 methods available.

  • Self teach with Paul Humann's Reef Fish book. It has all the species on the PBCRRT Master Fish List, and a few hundred more.
  • Use the online Fish Quizzes (left menu).
    This is the most commonly used method.
  • Attend a class taught by the Fish Leader, where memory aids will be taught to help you to remember the more difficult species. Six hours of lectures with slides from the Humann book are offered over 3 evenings when the need arises and sufficient members are interested in taking the class.


Pug Pugliese

To be a fish counter you will need to learn:

  • How to identify the 142 species of fish commonly found on the county reefs.
  • How to find the ID station on the site, and get set up to count.
  • How to estimate and enter fish sizes on the underwater data sheet.
  • How to estimate and enter fish counts on the underwater data sheet.
  • How to enter the fish data online for the PBCRRT counting methods.
  • How to submit the fish data to REEF for their rove counting method.


Use the Fish Quizzes

These multiple choice quizzes are designed to teach. . They self grade, giving the correct answer if you miss, and supply memory hints to help you learn as you go. Score 90% on these quizzes and you'll easily pass the written test.