Congratulations to REEF surveyors Claude Nichols and Jonathan Lavan, who recently joined the Golden Hamlet Club! This is a highly dedicated group of surveyors who have conducted 1,000 or more REEF surveys. To commemorate this significant achievement, Golden Hamlet Club members’ names are engraved on a plaque displayed at the REEF Campus in Key Largo, Florida.

Claude Nichols did his first REEF survey in 2001 at Sunnyside Beach in Washington state, after his wife, Janna (a fellow Golden Hamlet and a REEF staff member) inspired him to start surveying. Although he did his landmark 1,000th survey in Fiji, more than half of Claude's surveys have been conducted in cold water, so to acknowledge this, we presented him with a Golden Lumpsucker Award. Reflecting on his experience surveying, Claude said, "I enjoy the hunt for new species and realizing that those species have been present on many dives, but perhaps I missed them because I didn’t know what to look for. Surveying makes my dives more enjoyable."

Jonathan Lavan conducted his 1,000th survey last month during the REEF Field Survey Trip in Grand Cayman. This dive was especially memorable because not only was it his 1,000th REEF survey, he actually saw a Golden Hamlet during the dive! Jonathan did his first REEF survey in The Bahamas in 2004. Some of his favorite places to dive are the Sea of Cortez and the house reef at Anse Chatanet Resort in St. Lucia. Now that he's a Golden Hamlet, Jonathan says his goals for the future are "to keep diving, keep taking photos, and share my images and knowledge with anyone who is interested."

Congratulations to Claude and Jonathan, and thank you for your contributions to citizen science! Click here to read more about the Golden Hamlet Club.