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 Ron Wolfe, a member who lives in Hawaii. He joined REEF in 2016, and started conducting REEF surveys the following year. Since then, he has quickly advanced up the experience level ladder and is currently a Level 4 surveyor in the Hawaiian Islands (HAW) region. He has submitted 264 REEF surveys to date. Ron also goes above and beyond as a citizen scientist by teaching fish identification classes and actively engaging new surveyors.

Ron says,"Recognizing that the best way to reinforce learning is to teach someone else, and after having so much fun reviewing each dive survey with my dive buddy Dennis Bensen, I wanted to increase the pool of fellow REEF surveyors. Using REEF's Hawaii Fish ID Curricula, Dennis and I have set about recruiting students and holding classes. The synergy with Legacy Reef Foundation and Big Island Divers to create class opportunities has been very encouraging. It of course feels good to try to give something back to the dive community at large and REEF."

We're so thankful to have a dedicated and enthusiastic member like Ron! You can read more about his experience with REEF below.

What inspires you to complete REEF surveys?
I am a retired Forest Resource Manager from Southeast Alaska, where there is quite an interface between terrestrial and both freshwater and marine ecosystems. Natural resources have been a big part of my life for decades. The chance to expand this to the marine environment beyond Alaska is so very interesting and appealing. I’ve enjoyed fish identification since 1992 on a quasi-informal basis and the structure of REEF fish surveys has improved my fish identification abilities greatly. I really enjoy every survey on every dive.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF survey?
The most interesting thing about conducting fish surveys is the unpredictability of the ocean whether it be seeing a new exotic fish for the first time, one that I’ve not seen for some time, a shark, a monk seal or whatever the ocean has in store for us on each dive.

If you have been on a REEF Field Survey, where and what was your trip highlight?
I was on the REEF Trip aboard the Kona Aggressor here in Hawaii in February 2018. I really enjoyed meeting other volunteers and learning much from them. The highlight of the trip were two very outstanding new dive sites, Au Au Crater and Manuka Bay. These are too far enough south for the day boats to reach, and being on a liveaboard made it possible.

If you had to explain REEF to a friend in a couple of sentences, what would you tell them?
REEF is a multifaceted marine conservation organization that undertakes a variety of marine conservation projects in all our oceans. Perhaps the most unique is the powerful data collected from the Volunteer Fish Survey Project to provide information to the conservation, the public and the scientific communities.

Do you have any surveying, fish watching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Check your reference books after every dive to learn any new fish, learn something new about a fish that you’ve seen before, or just reinforce what you already know.

What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
Well, it depends on which page I am on in the fish book! I have many, but if I had to choose, I would pick the Hawaii Longfin Anthias because it is so rare, but not so rare I can never see it, and its absolute beauty.