You did your first REEF Survey in Puerto Rico in 2002. What got you started?

My first REEF Field Survey Trip was in November 2002. My wife and I signed up for a REEF Trip to Puerto Rico, led by REEF co-founder Paul Humann. My first recorded survey was on November 4, 2002, on a site called Fallen Rock near Guanica, Puerto Rico. I first became interested in fish identification on a diving trip to Bonaire where we stayed at the Sandollar. While there we met Jerry Ligon, who inspired us and many other fishwatchers. He initially took us on a snorkel tour and pointed out different types of fish. We subsequently got to dive with and learn more from Jerry and purchased our first REEF fish identification book authored by Paul Humann and Ned DeLoach. I immediately went about trying to identify as many species as possible. We subsequently heard about REEF through articles in diving magazines and eventually signed up for a REEF Field Survey Trip. I’ve been hooked ever since! 

When and where did you do your 1,000th survey? Tell us anything memorable about your 1,000th survey.

My 1000th REEF survey was completed on October 24, 2023, in Roatan Honduras, while diving with REEF friends at a site called Calvin's Crack. Most memorable part of the dive was getting to share that experience with close friends and fellow fish watchers from REEF. We held up the REEF flag celebrating together and took a picture. Also had the bonus of seeing a Bearded Toadfish and a beautiful Longsnout Seahorse on the same dive. Memorable dive to say the least!

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?

Most of my surveys have been in the TWA region; however, I have also been blessed to survey in many other areas including: TEP, SOP, HAW, and CIP regions. I am a level 2 surveyor in the TEP, level 3 in SOP and CIP regions, and level 5 in TWA. Favorite dive spots in the Caribbean would include Cozumel and Little Cayman. I have done the most REEF surveys on Cozumel and have many warm memories of participating in REEF Field survey trips there. My wife and I have also done REEF survey trips to Little Cayman which has the amazing Bloody Bay Wall. My most memorable REEF Field Survey liveaboard trips have been on the Naia in Fiji and the Bilikiki in the Solomon Islands.

What are some of your favorite fishes or invertebrates? What makes them your favorite?

Some of my favorite fishes would include butterflyfishes. I love seeing them swim as pairs and enjoy taking pictures of them. I admire the absolutely amazing species and color variation of butterflyfish and angelfish, especially in the Pacific. Also, I really love seeing seahorses and frog fishes. Every fish is interesting to me, so pretty hard to narrow down the list to just a few!

What is your favorite thing/memory about REEF and the Volunteer Survey Project?

My favorite thing about REEF is that it literally saved my diving career and brought new life into my diving. After about 20 years of diving without REEF, I was actually getting a little bored at times. If I didn’t see a shark, ray, eel, or something big and exciting, it wasn’t a memorable dive. I spent so many years swimming past fish I didn’t even realize were there and wasted a lot of time just looking for big stuff. REEF gave me a purpose to my diving and I became more excited with each dive. Every dive is a mission to find something new and interesting. Adding in photography also inspired me. I’m not a very good photographer, but having fun trying to capture images of as many different species as possible.

I have met some wonderful people, while diving with REEF, who have truly inspired me to learn more. Some of my favorite times with REEF have actually been spent above the water rather than below the water while reviewing our REEF survey slates and talking about our interesting encounters. I love the REEF classes in the evenings where we review photos and learn from one another. REEF has become an extended family to me!

What are your goals with REEF for the future?

Goals for the future are to continue to survey as much as possible and continue to learn and contribute to the database in anyway I can. Also, I hope to continue to inspire others by talking about REEF and what it has done for my diving experience. It feels good to inspire others and get them interested in learning more about the environment!