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Survey Forms and Instructions

Updated 8/31/16


This page contains instructions for obtaining and completing the reef team survey form. Hard copy survey forms are available at all Reef Team meetings. A survey form can also be downloaded in two formats:

Check the Surveys Needed page of this Web site to select a site to survey. Fill out a rough copy of the team survey form, in the boat, after you surface. Use one survey form for each dive.


Instructions for Completing Survey Form

Boat Registration

This is the boat registration number as noted on the hull. Add the captain's name and, if different, the boat owner's name.

Position Readings

Record the GPS latitude and longitude (L/L) in hundreds or thousands of a minute. Take a position reading when you drop the anchor and, if possible, take another reading before you pull the anchor. Before you submit the report, please compare these readings to those in the Port Authority pamphlet. It is usually better not to rely on recalling the coordinates from the memory of your unit. Record only non-calculated L/Ls. You should be using the WGS-84 Datum setting on your GPS unit. List the GPS units used.

Diver Data

List all survey divers, time in, bottom time, maximum depth, and your estimate of the distance covered on the reef. Fly your dive flag just before you put divers in the water.

Bottom Material

Record the type of material on the reef and if the reef is scattered or continuous. Note the maximum height of the material or the wreck. State if the wreck is upright or degree of listing. Indicate the amount of growth because it indicates the age of the deposit.

Bottom Composition

Record if the bottom is sand and/or shell or mud. Test the hardness of the bottom by estimating the extent of penetration of your hand. To observe prevailing current, look for ripples in the sand, and note the height and distance between the ripples. Note the direction of the ripples in the sketch and if any scouring or silting is present. The ripples are usually 90 degrees to the direction of the prevailing current. Note any new scouring, sanding, breakup, or listing of a ship in your summary report.

Water Conditions

Estimate the bottom current and note its direction using your compass. Note water temperature and where you noticed a thermocline. Note surface water color and estimate horizontal visibility. Note any usual matter or algae. Specific gravity or salinity can be measured using a Sea Test gauge, available at marine aquarium stores.

Weather Conditions

Estimate wind direction, speed and wave height. Note time of high tide at the inlet from the NOAA weather broadcast, newspaper, or other source.

Biological Data

Estimate the number and size of fish or invertebrates seen during the survey using the REEF count codes as described on the form. As an option, list the count instead of the code. The length may be placed near the name or count. The order of the life listed on the team form is the same as on a REEF survey form so that it is easy to transfer the fish count data from the team survey form to the REEF survey form. REEF does not record invertebrates. You can submit data to REEF on-line at The submission of the information to REEF is optional. Fish and creature photographs or videos will help us identify fish or invertebrates that you have seen during the survey. State on the form if any photographs or videos were made during the survey.


Please use another sheet of paper for a sketch of the site and some notes. Note the relative location of your anchor, boat, and the deposits. Indicate your survey route and, if possible, the heading of wrecks. Note if other boats were on the site. Note the North direction on the sketch. For additional information, see the sample survey sketch.

Summary Sheet

A short summary sheet or paragraph is needed only for each different site visited, not for each dive made at the same site. After checking your survey form, briefly describe, in the summary, your most significant observations. For additional information, see a sample summary page.

How to Submit Data

Bring the summary, sketch sheet, and the signed survey form(s) to the next team meeting. Use REEF's on-line entry option on their web site to submit the data to REEF.

Please dive safely and conserve our local marine life so that you and others can continue to enjoy the time we spend offshore.