You did your first REEF survey on 7/2/2009 at Alki Junk Yard in Seattle. What got you started?
This is funny because I don’t know what was going on in 2009 that inspired me to do my first survey. I did three surveys that year - two of them were in the San Juan Islands. I really got started surveying in 2015 mostly because the scientific diving I had been doing ended and I was looking to use my skills/knowledge as part of my diving experience. I did over 100 surveys that year.
When and where did you do your 1,000th Survey? Tell us anything memorable about your 1,000th survey?
My 1000th survey was in May 2023, at a cold water site called Mukilteo T-dock in Puget Sound. The species I recorded included some of the “special” Pacific NW critters, wolf-eel, candy striped shrimp and spotted ratfish. Visibility was 6 to 10 feet but there was lots to see. Candy striped shrimp are found mostly well north of this dive site so seeing them at Mukilteo is a special treat.
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?
The two areas I have done most of my surveying in are the Pacific NW and Tropical Western Atlantic. I also did a few surveys in the Tropical Eastern Pacific (in the Sea of Cortez). So over 90% of my surveys have been in cold water. I am a level 5 in the Pacific NW and level 3 in TWA. I have a local favorite dive site that I go to a lot – so much that Janna kids me about it. That site has some iconic species such as giant Pacific octopus, wolf-eels, grunt sculpins and Pacific spiny lumpsuckers so it has lots to offer in special species. Oh, and at certain times of the year we watch for six gill sharks.
What are some of your favorite fishes or invertebrates? What makes them your favorite?
I am a shark junkie, so every shark or shark relative (sharks, rays and ratfish) are high on my list. Then cephalopods of all sorts including giant Pacific octopuses, red octopuses, opalescent squid and the inimitable stubby squid (a bobtail squid). I have been lucky to dive with great white sharks, tiger sharks, great hammerhead sharks, makos, blue sharks, Galapagos sharks, whale sharks and more. I have also been blessed with multiple interactions with giant Pacific octopuses. A recent one where the animal “frisked” me (yeah, I have it on video).
What is your favorite thing/memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?
I really enjoy participating in the Advanced Assessment Teams survey efforts. Spending time (usually on a boat) with other fish geeks is fun and educational. I also enjoyed participating in the Key Largo 25 year anniversary survey where we repeated survey locations from that set of surveys. I also like seeing fish or invertebrates that are not often seen, like a spiny head sculpin.
What are your goals with REEF for the future?
Another 1000 – oh sure. I also want to add surveying in Hawaii. I’ve done quite a bit of diving and snorkeling there but not recently. I want to continue to contribute to the AAT’s each year. And, of course, I am always looking for sharks.
Feel free to share anything else about yourself and your diving adventures!
My initial comfort in the water was acquired through swimming and water polo (I played competitive water polo for 25 years) where being in and under water was fun and relaxing. I started my scientific diving experience as a diver for NOAA. Two of the ships I served on and the fisheries laboratory where I worked had significant diving operations. This training and experience gave me an appreciation for working underwater that helps guide me even today. That has enabled me to enjoy my time underwater and keep relaxed, even in sometimes harsh conditions. I look forward to every dive I make.