You did your first REEF survey on MB-103 Artificial Reef MBARA in the Gulf of Mexico on 4/19/2010. What got you started?
I volunteer for the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA) in Mexico Beach, FL. We have nothing but sand off our shores in the Gulf of Mexico and have a very active artificial reef program. To get grants from the State of Florida, we get grant points by doing research. I was looking for a better way to survey fish on our artificial reefs and found REEF’s fish survey project. I loved the training they offered and the fact data is accessible to everyone.
When and where did you do your 1,000th Survey? Tell us anything memorable about your 1,000th survey?
I did my 1000th survey on a memorial reef MBARA had deployed only a week before. I was there for the deployment to get photos for the family when the reef was lowered to the bottom. MBARA likes to visit the memorial reefs soon after they are deployed to get photos of all the artifacts placed in the reef by families and friends. We try to visit before the artifacts are covered up by marine growth. This reef consisted of two 8-foot concrete pyramids and was lovingly embedded with bottles filled with notes. We send photos to the families and put them on our website where each Memorial Reef has its own page. Since the reef was so new there wasn’t much fish life to survey yet, but I did find a leopard searobin and some spotted dragonets.
In which regions have you done surveys? What experience levels are you in those other regions? Do you have any favorite dive spots in those places?
I am Level 5 in TWA and TEP, 3 in SOP and IORS, and 4 in CIP. I’ve done surveys in all those areas except SOP. It’s hard to pick out favorites, but I would say Roca Partida and The Boiler in the Socorros were magical. I also loved the caverns I dived recently in Palau – I was able to find fish there I didn’t see anywhere else. If you ever go to Palau, you need to stay at Sea Passion Hotel and spend time snorkeling their huge lagoon. I recorded fish there that had REEF asking if I had photos to verify.
What are some of your favorite fishes or invertebrates? What makes them your favorite?
One of my favorite fishes is the Comet. On a trip to Ambon our divemaster asked what fish I wanted to see most that was in my book. I said I wanted to see a Comet. On our last dive of the trip, my husband found one. I’ve seen a few since in the Red Sea. I love the long, flowy fins, the white spots like stars, and the touches of color. Another favorite encounter was the Red Sea Flasher Wrasse. It’s a very colorful fish and I knew I would only find it in the Red Sea. On an afternoon dive, I finally saw 1, then 3, and then I was surrounded by hundreds of them, all flashing their bright red and yellow fins.
What is your favorite thing / memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?
I love the wonderful people I have met through REEF. There are so many divers and underwater photographers who share the same passions and values for life in our oceans. Some have become friends for life. Last winter, my husband and I were camping in south Florida, and I mentioned on Facebook we would be diving at Blue Heron Bridge. Several divers I knew through Facebook and REEF showed up to say hello and dive. We went out to lunch afterwards and had a wonderful time. That’s the kind of people you meet through REEF.
What are your goals with REEF for the future?
I plan to keep doing surveys and providing good photos when I get them. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and have even been given the opportunity to support an Advanced Assessment Team in my area in the very near future.
Feel free to share anything else about yourself and your diving adventures!
I’m lucky to have my husband by my side as my best dive buddy and my Captain. We are both retired from the Air Force and got our start diving while stationed on Guam in 1991. We’ve been diving ever since, locally in Florida, and all around the world.