Fish out of water 5K

At this point in COVID-19 response closures, many non-profit organizations have been forced to postpone or cancel fundraising events. Creativity and technology are being drawn upon to adapt and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) in Key Largo has come up with their, “The Fish Out of Water Virtual 5K”.

“We haven’t done a 5K before. There had been talk for a while about trying to set one up,” Madalyne Mussey, Education and Outreach Program Manager, said. “One of our directors learned about other groups doing this virtually and we went to work.”

Although the event takes place in late September, registration is open. REEF does have to order shirts and medals in advance; early registration helps them plan numbers.

The procedure for the 5K is to choose to walk, run, bike, or hike, whether you do so outside or inside with an exercise machine. The dates of Monday, September 28, 2020 to Sunday, October 4, 2020 have been designated as the participation timeframe. Individuals can complete the 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) at their own pace in one day or over the seven days. The registration fee is $35. The packet will include an email confirmation and more details regarding race specifics, a Fish Out of Water 5K shirt, race bib showing off the selected fish team, certificate of completion, 2020 finishers' medal, and some useful tools to help prepare for REEF Race week.

Wait, “selected fish team”? Yes.

For those familiar with REEF, their Volunteer Fish Survey program has been around for two-plus decades and more than 250,000 surveys have been completed. As their website explains, “To add to the excitement, we've chosen a special fish representative from each of our Volunteer Fish Survey Project regions. Fish Out of Water 5K participants can sign up to be part of their favorite fish's team. After the 5K, we'll share each team's results. You don't have to be a REEF surveyor to appreciate the quirky personalities of these fish. From the flamboyant Clown Triggerfish, to the graceful Fire Dartfish or the feisty Garibaldi, there's a fish team for everyone.” (

One more “fun factor” is, us a race day photo, so we recognize your accomplishment and celebrate together virtually. Please share your photo with us at, and if you share it on social media, please tag REEF and use the hashtags #REEFRace and #OceansForAll. Once you receive your registration packet, post a photo on Facebook or Instagram of you in your race swag or completing your 5K, tag REEF and two of your race buddies and you'll be automatically entered to win a REEF-themed giveaway! A winner will be chosen after October 4.” 

Proceeds from the 5K will go to support the Ocean for All Fund. It is, “A pooled scholarship fund supported by businesses, foundations, and individuals committed to investing in a more equitable future for marine conservation. This fund promotes inclusive opportunities for people to connect with, enjoy, and learn about the underwater world. REEF uses the fund in partnership with established organizations that serve underrepresented groups and directly provides both in-person and online programs, ensuring that cultivating connections with the ocean is not limited by zip code. The Oceans for All Fund

reduces barriers that limit diverse individuals and groups from participating in Ocean Explorers Programs or other REEF programs.”

Their range of Ocean Explorer Programs emphasize education and citizen science. Workshops, seminars, camps, and expeditions are designed for all ages as well as for individuals or groups. Whether on a professional or personal level, anyone who cares about the health of our oceans will find something of interest with REEF. They have also been having a positive impact in U.S. and Caribbean waters as one of the leaders in the fight against the invasive and destructive lionfish.

To learn more about their extensive work, what REEF offers, and how they are enhancing their virtual programs, go to

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