REEF members are the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. A diverse community of divers, snorkelers, and ocean enthusiasts support our mission to conserve marine environments worldwide.

This month we highlight Joe Mangiafico, who lives in Washington. Joe has been a REEF member since 2011, and since then he has amassed 665 REEF surveys, most of which have been conducted in cold water regions. Joe is a level 5 surveyor in the Northeast US and Canada (NE) region, where he has submited 410 surveys, making him REEF's second most active surveyor in the NE region! In addition to that, Joe is a level 5 surveyor in the Pacific Coast (PAC) region. Earlier this year, he became a level 2 surveyor in the Tropical Western Atlantic (TWA) region. Thank you Joe, for being such a dedicated member and surveyor!

When and how did you first volunteer with REEF of become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
In 2011, I was participating in a research cruise documenting fish behavior off the coast of Georgia. One of the individuals in our group was submitting his survey data to REEF. I had heard of REEF before, but it was during this time that I decided to become a member.

If you have been on a REEF Field Survey Trip or participated in an Advanced Assessment Team project, where and what was your trip highlight?
I was involved with the Advanced Assessment Team project in the San Juan Islands in Washington. There were two things that stood out from this trip - Tiger Rockfish and the people. Tiger Rockfish are a beautiful, long-lived fish that spend most of the time hiding. The people on the trip all shared a passion for the marine environment and were great to be around

In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs?
In my opinion, the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs is inspiring public involvement. By getting the public involved, people take ownership of our oceans and then become stewards of the oceans.

Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there?
Most of my diving is close to home. The best part of diving close to home is that you can visit your favorite sites and critters more often. There are many sites near where I live that I love to visit, but at this moment if I had to pick one it would be Keystone Jetty. There is great abundance and diversity for both fish and invertebrates.

What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
One of my most fascinating fish encounters happened on a Christmas night dive. My wife and I were diving in Homles Harbor in Freeland, Washington. The site is a silt bottom with not a lot of diversity. When we reached 37 feet we both saw this shape come out of the darkness. We both realized at the same time that it was a Bluntnose Sixgill Shark. The shark was about 8-9 feet long and made a close pass. Amazing animal.