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 Pieter Booth, a REEF member from Washington. He is an active surveyor in the Pacific Coast of the US and Canada (PAC) region, where he has conducted more than 120 surveys. He enjoys exploring the nearby waters of the Puget Sound. We're thankful that Pieter is a part of REEF, and look forward to seeing more surveys from him in the future!

When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
I have been a REEF member since 2006. I joined REEF after attending an in-person ID class with Janna Nichols. I heard about REEF through fellow divers with the Boeing Seahorse Scuba Club, one of the oldest scuba clubs on the West Coast of the US.

What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
I understand the value of doing REEF surveys for the learning experience as well as the importance of the data to scientists. As an environmental scientist, I have used REEF data in evaluations of marine biodiversity in the Tropical Western Atlantic.

In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of REEF’s projects and programs?
At this time, I believe the REEF database is invaluable, given the period of acceletaed diversity loss that our planet is experiencing.

Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there?
I dive on an almost weekly basis within two hours of my home in the Puget Sound region. I feel very fortunate to be able to observe the seasonal (and longer term) cycles of diversity and abundance in our waters. And of course, seeing iconic creatures such as Giant Pacific Octopus, Grunt Sculpin, Pacific Spiny Lumpsuckers, and Sixgill Sharks.

What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
Diving with the large pelagics in the Revillagigedos, in particular the Oceanic Mantas who love getting tickled by divers' bubbles and come back for repeated passes.

What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate
My first and enduring favorite is the Grunt Sculpin. It is not only fascinating morphologically, with its armored horse-like head and bent body, but also the way it moves - by scuttling along the bottom to with lighning-fast charges to capture prey. Not to mention, it is a bit of an evolutionary enigma because its family consists of only a couple of species.

What is your most memorable fish find and why?
My first encounter with an 8-10 foot Sixgill Shark in Puget Sound. I surprised myself with my very calm and even reverential attitude, especially given that the encounter occurred in less than three feet of visibility!