REEF members are at the heart of our grassroots marine conservation programs. More than 70,000 divers, snorkelers, students, and armchair naturalists stand behind our mission.
This month we highlight Susan Lokey, who has been a REEF member since 1995. She is a level 3 surveyor in the Tropical Western Atlantic region and has completed 175 surveys. Susan lives in Virginia, outside of Washington D.C., and enjoys traveling on dive trips. She attends REEF Field Survey Trips whenever she can!
When and how did you first volunteer with REEF or become a REEF member? How did you first hear about REEF?
My first REEF survey was done December 10, 1995, in The Bahamas on my own, not on a REEF Trip. I started diving in 1993 and found out about REEF when I was on a vacation in The Bahamas. A couple on our dive boat talked about the dives they did with REEF and how much better it was than just going on a dive without a purpose. I inquired about REEF and signed up shortly after in 1995 - my member number is 4131!
If you have been on a REEF Field Survey, where and what was your trip highlight?
Probably my most memorable REEF Trip was on the Aqua Cat to the Exumas. Ned and Anna DeLoach were on this trip and it was incredible. They are an amazing couple and their knowledge and enthusiasm was contagious. The Aqua Cat and their dive staff was so professional and made the dives memorable.
What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
I love diving and typically do about 15 dives each trip. If I were to go on a dive trip and did that many dives without surveying, it would become boring. I love diving with a purpose and knowing that I am making a contribution to REEF's information and knowledge base. The most interesting thing I've learned is not only to try to identify fish, but learn about their habitat and behaviors (i.e. Sergeant Majors protecting an egg mass - to see this and then actually see the egg mass they are protecting!).
What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
To be able to do so many dives with enthusiastic fellow divers, and then being able to talk about the fish sightings and compare notes.
If you had to explain REEF to a friend in a couple of sentences, what would you tell them?
I have definitely encouraged fellow divers to think about diving with REEF and explained the benefits of doing surveys. I also let them know that there are monthly trips they can choose to participate in, in various price ranges that would fit their budgets. They should know no matter which trip they decide to go on, they will enjoy all of the divers they will be with and truly feel like a valuable part of the REEF team!
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?
There are no dive locations near where I live near Washington, DC. I rely on REEF Trips to fulfill my love of diving while knowing I am a valuable part of the REEF team when I dive with them.
What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
My favorite fish is the Frogfish. I saw several in my early diving days about 1995 in Bonaire. I have not seen one while surveying yet. I know they are out there but are very challenging to spot. They are my favorite because they are very unique and are masters of camouflage!
What is your most memorable fish find and why?
I was excited to find Cardinalfish which I wouldn't have seen had I not taken my dive light. Also finding a Peppermint Basslet on my own (with dive light) was exciting too.