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 REEF member David Meyer. David has conducted more than 450 REEF surveys, from the Tropical Western Atlantic, Hawaii, and Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean regions. After living in Bermuda for many years, he now lives in Morocco and submitted some of the first REEF surveys from Cyprus!
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
I was a member of a dive club in Bermuda when, in October 2012, Ned and Anna DeLoach brought a REEF group for a week of surveying. I was invited to join them diving one day, and I followed the REEF group fascinated. Ned hovered above a piece of rubble at North Rock, holding a mirror. A small fish came out of a hole in the rubble and scolded its mirror image. How did he know that? Another REEF diver found an octopus by spotting its eye peering out of a hole in the reef. These divers were traveling reefs and sand flats that I had dived all summer and they were seeing things I never knew were there. Onboard, everyone was excited about the fish they had spotted and the Bermuda host, Camilla Springer, offered me a yellow survey slate and a few sheets of Tropical Western Atlantic survey paper. I took them on my next dive and that changed me. Now there is never a bad dive, because there is always something to see - REEF taught me that.
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
REEF taught me to become sensitive to changes in the patterns of what I see so that I can spot the movement of a Slender Filefish in a gorgonian – something I never would have spotted before.
What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
I spent half an hour in outer Hanauma Bay snorkeling alone with a large ray swmming 20 feet below me. He could have left at any time but he stayed with me. Another time, a spinner dolphin came close, and I had heard that they liked humans to twirl in the water so I twirled. It stayed close until I tired. It looked at me not with fish-like concern but with a mammalian consciousness in its eyes.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
The sea cucumber. I used to hate them after I picked one up in the British Virgin Islands, pressed it against my bare arm, and felt 100 little prickles dig into my skin. I bore a grudge for years, but when I moved to Harrington Sound in Bermuda and began to dive every other night, I discovered a population of sea cucumbers that spawn for several days during full moons each summer. I would invite friends to join me to watch these echinoderms, sometimes 100 at a time, swaying like Little Stevie Wonder singing “My Cherie Amour” with spawn or eggs floating and dissolving in the water column. I knew I was privileged to witness a phenomenon that had been occurring for many years, just out of sight.
Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Have a good light. Go in at night with a friend once you know the waters. Relax your eyes sometimes and be aware of movements in the periphery. Enjoy the subtle changes in color and shade and tone that is often occurring so subtly. Donate to REEF.