Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) will celebrate the success and impact of marine conservation programs during REEF Fest, set for Oct. 17-20 in Key Largo.

Sponsored by Capital Bank Foundation, REEF Fest 2019 features ocean-themed seminars and marine conservation programs, social gatherings, diving, snorkeling and kayaking, plus opportunities to mingle with some of the most prestigious names in diving and marine conservation. 

This year’s event also features an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of the second edition of “Reef Fish Behavior – Florida Caribbean Bahamas” by marine life authors Ned and Anna DeLoach. 

Most REEF Fest events are free, although online registration is recommended.

REEF Fest to offer diving, socials and more - A group of people on a beach - Water
REEF Fest goers gather for a picture during sunset. Evening festivities kick off Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m., with a free sunset social on the bay front lawn of the Murray Nelson Government Center. CONTRIBUTED

Ocean-themed seminars and sunset kickoff event

REEF Fest begins on Thursday, Oct. 17, with free marine conservation programming at REEF’s Interpretive Center, including an invasive lionfish collecting and handling workshop at 2:30 p.m., a beginner fish identification class at 3:30 p.m. and an intermediate/advanced fish identification class at 4:30 p.m. Evening festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m., with a free sunset social on the bay front lawn of the Murray Nelson Government Center. Following the social, the opening seminar will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Seminars will continue on Friday and Saturday afternoons. All seminars are free and held at the Murray Nelson Government Center. 

Diving, snorkeling and kayaking

Divers and snorkelers are invited to join dedicated REEF boat charters at participating Upper Keys dive shops on the mornings of Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19. Boats have a REEF representative onboard, with fish identification materials available for participants to use during the trip. Individuals can register and pay for diving or snorkeling directly with REEF by visiting Space is limited. 


A guided kayak tour will also be offered on the mornings of Oct. 18 and 19. Open to beginners and experienced kayakers, the trip includes all rental equipment, a lesson on paddling techniques, snacks, water and a fully guided tour through the mangrove habitats of the Upper Keys. Register online at 

Social events & ‘Reef Fish Behavior’ book signing

Tour the oldest building in the Upper Keys and mingle with REEF staff and board members during the REEF Fest Open House, held at REEF Headquarters, MM 98.3 in the median, on Friday, Oct. 18 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. There will be raffle prizes, appetizers, wine, and local craft beer provided by the Florida Keys Brewing Company. The open house is free and open to the public. 

Marine life authors Ned and Anna DeLoach will be introducing the second edition of their book, “Reef Fish Behavior — Florida Caribbean Bahamas” during REEF Fest 2019. REEF Fest attendees will have an opportunity to buy a signed copy of the new, updated and enlarged second edition during two book-signing events, one of which will take place during the open house. The other book signing and purchase event will be on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Murray Nelson Government Center. The book signings are the only way to buy a copy of the book before its release later this year. The book retails for $49.95 plus tax. 

Annual banquet ‘For the Love of the Sea’

The annual REEF Fest banquet, “For the Love of the Sea,” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tickets, at $70 per person, include a three-course meal, hors d’oeuvres and a full-service liquor bar. The event will include live music and a silent auction featuring dive travel packages and marine life photography and artwork. Tickets can be purchased at 

REEF Fest concludes on Sunday, Oct. 20 with a farewell breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon at REEF Headquarters. The continental breakfast will include pastries, bagels, fruit, coffee and mimosas. The farewell breakfast is free and open to the public.

Specially priced REEF Fest accommodations are available at several Key Largo hotels. For details, visit  The REEF Fest 2019 title sponsor is Capital Bank Foundation; platinum sponsors are Atlantis Philippines Dive Resorts and Liveaboards, The Carrow Foundation and Florida Keys Brewing Company. More information is at, or 305-852-0030.

REEF Fest to offer diving, socials and more - A man and a woman standing in front of a stage - Concert
Ned DeLoach, author of “Reef Fish Behavior — Florida Caribbean Bahamas,” will release the second edition of the book during REEF Fest. CONTRIBUTED


Thursday, Oct. 17
7:30 p.m.: The Future for Sea Turtles on a Warming Planet by
Selina Heppell, Ph.D., Oregon State University

Friday, Oct. 18
2:30 p.m.: Fishwatchers’ Notebook: stories and images of great finds and fun adventures by
Jeff Haines and Carol Cox, REEF Volunteers and Underwater Photographers

3:30 p.m.: The Power of Citizen Science
Ben Holt, Ph.D., Director of The Rock Pool Project

4:30 p.m.: Reef Fish Behavior, second edition: Twenty joy-filled years in the making by
Ned and Anna DeLoach, REEF Trustees and Renowned Ocean Storytellers

Saturday, Oct. 19
2:30 p.m: Blooms of Blue-green Algae in South Florida: Ecological causes and human health consequences by Larry Brand, Ph.D., University of Miami

3:30 p.m: Lionfish and Nassau Grouper: A tale of two fish and how stakeholder collaboration leads to conservation success by Christy Pattengill-Semmens, Ph.D., and Alli Candelmo, Ph.D., REEF Director of Science and Invasive Species Program Manager with Brice Semmens, Ph.D., Scripps Institution of Oceanography

4:30 p.m.: Marine Heatwaves: What 5,000 citizen scientists can tell us about 85,000 beached birds by Julia Parrish, Ph.D., University of Washington and Executive Director of Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST)

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