REEF members are at the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. Over 60,000 divers, snorkelers, students, and armchair naturalists stand behind our mission.
This month we highlight Gerald Winkel, member since 2009. Gerald has conducted 243 surveys. Gerald lives and dives in California and he is a Level 4 Expert surveyor in the PAC region. Gerald has represented REEF at many dive shows and festivals over the years and is an active REEF Fish ID instructor. Here's what Gerald had to say about REEF:
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member?
In February of 2009, I heard about Herb Gruenhagen's REEF presentation through the San Diego Ocean Foundation. After attending his amazing class, I was hooked and got progressively involved with REEF. I love sharing the wonders of the underwater world, be it teaching ID classes, conducting surveys, presenting at dive clubs or outreach at our local shows and events.
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys?
There's always something interesting on each dive, either a new sighting/behavior or even the absence of species. Being able to capture this in a survey and add to the database makes you feel part of something bigger.
What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
Hanging out with other fish geeks! We have amazing volunteers who love to share their knowledge.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF's projects and programs?
Hands down, the staff and every member!
Where is your favorite place to dive and why?
With a day job in the desert, I'm pretty lucky to be only an hour away from the beach. Southern California has neither the warmest nor the clearest water but I love diving here.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you've experienced?
One of my first dives after certification was the Manta Ray night dive in Kona, HI, which is to this day my favorite dive to remember.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
Our local Bat Ray is among my favorites. It looks like a creature from a different planet but is literally right under our noses/fins.
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Slow down, it's not a race!