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 Frank Krasovec, a REEF member who lives and dives in North Carolina. Frank is an avid surveyor, having submitted nearly 200 surveys in the Tropical Western Atlantic and South Atlantic States (SAS) regions. He is an expert level surveyor in both of these regions, and teaches SAS fish and invertebrate identification classes as well as Fishinars. He is also an underwater photographer and frequently shares his photos for fish id and educational purposes. We're thankful to have Frank as part of the REEF family!

When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
I was a volunteer diver at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Teams consisted of four divers on a bi-weekly schedule. As a comm diver, I talked back and forth with the audience during two daily shows. I was often asked to identify various fish. I’d been diving off the coast of North Carolina for 20+ years and was embarrassed many times as I did not know several of the 20+ species in the main tank. I started taking photos of each fish in the tank and worked through various ID books to learn each species. An opportunity arose at the aquarium to take a two-day course on marine life identification. REEF had teamed up with NOAA to create the South Atlantic States (SAS) survey region and related coursework. REEF staff members Janna and Christy traveled to NC to teach the course along with Lauren Heeseman of NOAA. It was a great two days of learning and I was hooked. I discussed my interest in getting more involved with Lauren, and she provided the course material for both SAS Fish and Invertebrate ID. I taught my first class on SAS fish ID later that year, and have since taught both classes several times in the greater Raleigh area.

What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
What is inspires me is being able to document what I see, especially first-time sightings, and knowing that what I record helps grow a database that can be used by anyone to research fish around the world. Several years ago, I documented a Yellowprow Goby exhibiting cleaning behavior on a Scamp. Later, I learned that Yellowprows are considered sponge gobies and were not supposed to be cleaners. I started paying special attention to where I saw them and documented cleaning behavior on several different species. I also noted that there were no tube sponges anywhere near these “cleaning” stations. A marine biologist picked up on my photos and comments and became interested. He published a “note” in a scientific journal to put this cleaning behavior on record and was gracious enough to list me as co-author. It was a good feeling to know that I was able to contribute to furthering science in the marine world.

Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there? If you don’t dive nearby, where do you most often dive? Where is your favorite place to dive and why?
North Carolina has world class diving and is often noted as one of the top wreck diving sites. I started diving in the Midwest and made an annual trek to NC from the late 70's through the mid-90s. In 2005, I got the opportunity to transfer to a job in NC and jumped on it. Both my wife and I have since retired and take every opportunity to dive off the coast. My two favorite dives in NC are the Caribsea out of Beaufort, and the Hyde out of Wrightsville Beach. Both are at a depth that allows for decent bottom time and both attract a wide variety of marine life, including lots of Sand Tiger Sharks.

What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
One of my favorite dive destinations is Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, FL. I’ve photographed over 200 fish species and there are lots more that I know others are seeing that I have yet to document. On one special dive, I came across a pair of sea horses that were exhibiting unusual behavior. The current was still flowing in and the sea horses struggled to hang on as they wrapped themselves together and moved along the sea floor in unison. Shortly after the tide went slack, the pair rose in the water column and formed a perfect heart shape as they swapped eggs/larvae. It is one of those moments that you want to watch as it unfolds – I managed to get off a few shots, but it was the experience that will remain with me always. One of the bridge trolls calls dives like this OILT – once in a lifetime. I’ve had many OILT dives at the bridge.

What is your most memorable fish find and why? Is there a fish (or marine invertebrate) you haven’t seen yet diving, but would like to?
Grand Cayman hold a special place in my memory as it was my first exotic dive destination. I’ve dove the Cayman Islands numerous times over the past 40+ years, but our latest trip ranks as one of the best. We stayed at Sunset House specifically to be close to a site where we’ve seen Masked Hamlets in the past. On our first dusk/night dive, we witnessed a Masked Hamlet pair mating. On subsequent nights we documented eight species of hamlets mating over a reef spur no more than 100 yards long. As a bonus, we caught a pair of Rock Beauties mating as well. It was a very special time to be in the water.