We are excited to honor Dennis Bensen as 2021 REEF Volunteer of the Year. Dennis joined REEF in 2001, and quickly became an avid REEF surveyor as part of the Volunteer Fish Survey Project (VFSP). Through the years, he has earned Expert level surveyor status in both Hawaii (HAW) and the Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) survey regions, and he is one of the few surveyors who has conducted REEF surveys in most (7) of REEF’s 10 survey regions worldwide. After living in New York for decades, Dennis moved to the Big Island of Hawaii when he retired in 2015. This move enabled him to be in the water often, and he has a weekly “Ohana” survey dive with many of his local REEF friends. In 2021, Dennis achieved a long-time goal of becoming a Golden Hamlet, when he submitted his 1,000th survey. He currently has 1,109 surveys in the REEF database. He also frequently attends REEF Field Survey Trips, having gone on 28 trips over the last two decades!
In addition to his contributions to the REEF database, he is a standout VFSP ambassador who regularly introduces new volunteers to the program. He even co-taught a REEF Fishinar about eels of Hawaii in 2021. Dennis is strongly committed to REEF’s mission and is a proud member of the REEF Legacy Society, joining others who have included REEF in their estate plans. Thank you Dennis, for your two decades of service to the organization! It’s an honor to recognize you as our 2021 Volunteer of the Year! To read more about Dennis, you can check out his Golden Hamlet Club profile here.