You did your first REEF survey on Coral Grotto, Heron Reef in Australia on 4/2/2017. What got you started?
My husband, Chuck, is the one who got me started. We met in 2016. I started surveying with him on our dive trips and got hooked!
When and where did you do your 1,000th Survey? Tell us anything memorable about your 1,000th survey?
Haha! I actually don’t know which survey counts as my 1,000th survey or where that survey was from. I knew I was getting close to having 1000 surveys but wasn’t tracking it. For me, the pleasure is in the experience - being in the water, learning the fish and their behaviors, and being present in the moment.
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 surveyed in the TWA, HAW, CIP, IORS, SOP, and TEP regions. My favorite places to dive are Hawaii, Fiji, and Indonesia. These are my favorite locations to survey because they offer great spots for freediving and snorkeling. In addition to scuba, my husband and I love to survey while freediving and snorkeling. It’s a very different experience. While surveying we can get to a wider variety of habits, including ones that scuba divers often don’t get to. Also, because we are on the surface, we talk about the fish and communicate a lot more than when we are on scuba. While snorkeling and freediving we share the excitement and fun of fish watching in the moment. The only thing better than seeing something really cool swim by or gazing at a gorgeous coastline while on the surface is sharing it with Chuck.
What are some of your favorite fishes or invertebrates? What makes them your favorite?
I love the Jack family. They are silvery and beautiful without being too fancy, and strong, powerful, swimmers. Of the Jacks, the Double-Spotted Queenfish (Leatherback in Hawaii) and the juvenile Golden Trevally are my favorites.
What is your favorite thing/memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?
Being a member of REEF and participating in its Volunteer Survey Project has meant becoming part of a community. Being a part of the REEF community is what I like best about being a volunteer. REEF members and staff are some of the nicest people I know.
What are your goals with REEF for the future?
Great question. I have actually been thinking a lot about this recently. Since starting to do surveys for REEF, I have focused on trying to learn a lot of fish very quickly for the regions in which I have been surveying. Getting in the water and being able to ID a lot of fish by sight is satisfying, but a very narrowly focused and independent pursuit. While in the water, I have shifted my energy from just recording the fish I see to slowing down and really observing the ocean environment. There is so much cool stuff going on underwater (and on the surface). I want to slow down and pay attention to the entire ecosystem, not just the fish.
Out of the water, I would like to support newer and less experienced REEF surveyors. Carrying a slate and trying to ID fish can feel overwhelming at first. Even though I have done 1000 surveys, I don’t consider myself an expert surveyor. However, I think I can offer some practical advice on how to start surveying and learning the fish.