When and where was your very first REEF survey? What got you started?
My first REEF survey was in Waikiki, Hawaii on 2/25/2010, however the first one I submitted was 3/3/10. I had been a scuba diver since 1985 and had been diving in PA (quarry), NJ, FL, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. When I moved to Hawaii, I wanted to be able to identify the fish I saw while snorkeling. So when I discovered an intro REEF class being offered by Sea Grant, I enrolled and I was hooked (pun intended).
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 on June 3, 2020 at Kaiona Beach Park in Waimanalo, Oahu, Hawaii. I saw a stout moray, many spotfin squirrelfish, a sailfin tang and a few male shortbodied blennies guarding their eggs.
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 have only done REEF surveys in Hawaii, mostly on Oahu and mostly at two beaches. I like being able to spot trends over time. For example, one year there was a fantail filefish bloom, another year it was millet seed butterfly fish, and yet another it was Moorish idols. Unfortunately, over time, I’ve also noticed that there are fewer fish species and fewer fish in each species at the places I usually snorkel. The exception is the yellowstripe goatfish, which is often “abundant.”
I am a level 5 surveyor in Hawaii. All my surveys were done snorkeling, so most were between one and three hours in length.
What are some of your favorite fishes? What makes them your favorite?
My favorite species is the juvenile rockmover wrasse. I love their antennas, the markings around their eyes and how they move like a piece of seaweed. Their bodies are so flexible.
While snorkeling for REEF, I have been able to aid two threatened Hawaiian green sea turtles in distress. One had fishing line wrapped around its neck and front flipper. NOAA took it to a marine veterinarian. They amputated one flipper, let it heal at the NOAA facility, and released it to the same beach. I have seen it a few times since. The other had bits of plastic in its mouth and was unable to eat as a result.
Recently, I saw two yellow seahorses on the same coral head for a few days. To see one is rare, to see two was a first for me.
What is your favorite thing/memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?
I enjoy really getting to know a place. You learn a lot about fish behavior. Some species exhibit site fidelity and you can see them in the same place time after time. Other fish are nomadic. Some fish like a particular type of coral, so if you want to see a certain species, just look for that type of coral and you may be rewarded.
I like moving up the levels, the fishinars and enjoy reading the newsletter.
What are your goals with REEF for the future?
To continue adding surveys and hopefully, see some new species.
Feel free to share anything else about yourself and your diving adventures!
The Continental shelf in Hawaii is wide, so I find that snorkeling is great and haven’t seen a need to dive here as a result!