You did your first REEF survey on August 1, 2001 at Sunnyside Beach in Washington state. What got you started?
My wife / dive buddy Janna was involved with the Volunteer Survey Project and her example inspired me to get involved also. It was my 52nd dive and it was after she had taught a Fish ID class in the Pacific Northwest.
When and where did you do your 1,000th Survey? Tell us anything memorable about your 1,000th survey?
I did my 1,000th survey as the last dive of my Fiji dive trip this summer. The variety and number of species in Fiji was more than what I had experienced even in the Caribbean, and the coral was healthy. Although the 1,000th survey was a muck shore dive with visibility to rival that of our typical Pacific Northwest 10-20’, we still saw many species that we hadn’t seen elsewhere on our Fiji boat dives.
In which regions have you done surveys? What experience levels are you in those other regions?
I have done surveys in 6 different regions. Hawaii (HAW), California (PAC/CAL), Pacific Northwest & Alaska (PAC/PNW), Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP), Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) and South Pacific (SOP). I am level 5 in PAC, and level 3 in TWA. I have also dove in CIP and collected data but it was before CIP was a REEF region.
Do you have any favorite dive spots in those places?
PNW - We live about 3 hours away from local dive sites in Hood Canal and Puget Sound. I really like that we can decide to go diving and go the next day. No air travel necessary and we can load up our gear in our car and dive with our own tanks. I really enjoy diving in British Columbia but with the pandemic it has been more difficult to dive in Canada, we have spent more time diving in the San Juan islands of Washington State located between Washington and Vancouver Island of BC.
HAW - Not as close by, but still one of my favorite sites, is Place of Refuge/Puuhonua o Honaunau/Two Step on the big island of Hawaii. I love how you step into the protected area and submerge under the snorkelers and head out to the drop off on the reef. The reef is teeming with life.
TWA – Bonaire, I love the shore dives and the freedom to go where you want to go and when you want to go.
SOP – Fiji Volvivoli since that is where we went on our trip.
What are some of your favorite fishes or invertebrates? What makes them your favorite?
In Pacific cold water it is a Grunt Sculpin - a small fish that is not a great swimmer. They kind of scoot along the bottom using their pectoral fins like feet and have a pig-like face that is so cute.
My favorite marine invertebrate is the Giant Pacific Octopus, the largest species of octopus in the world and present in our cold Pacific waters. They are beautiful, graceful creatures.
In Atlantic warm water my favorite is the Yellowhead Jawfish. I love how they pop out of their dens and then hover before retreating back down.
What is your favorite thing/memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?
Being involved with Citizen Science and gathering data for use by scientist and decision makers. I love making my dives count. I also enjoy sharing what I have seen on my dives with others that ask, “So what do you see down there?”
I enjoy the hunt for new species and realizing that those species have been present on many dives but I missed them because I didn’t know what to look for. Surveying makes my dives more enjoyable. I guess one of the most interesting things about surveying is learning the habitat and behavior of the fish to know better where to look. I also enjoy contributing to the data that is used by others to determine better what is happening underwater. I have also learned about what we jokingly call “photo bycatch” – when you take a photo to help with your survey and later, when looking at it, you discover another species that was captured in the frame!
What are your goals with REEF for the future?
Keep on surveying and to become an expert in the other regions that I have already dove in.
Feel free to share anything else about yourself and your diving adventures!
My wife and dive buddy Janna is also a Golden Hamlet.