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 Janeen Judah, who lives in Texas. She joined REEF on a dive trip in Belize in 2000. Since then, she has conducted nearly 300 surveys in the Tropical Western Atlantic region, where she is a Level 5 (expert) surveyor. She frequently attends REEF Field Survey Trips and is an avid traveler. So far, she has visited 94 countries and counting! Thank you, Janeen, for being a dedicated surveyor and part of the REEF family!

What is your favorite part about being a REEF member?
Diving with others who share my interests in fish ID & continuing to build my fish ID skills.

What inspires you to complete REEF surveys? What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned doing a REEF fish survey?
I think once a diver gets proficient with the basics of diving, they start looking for new challenges – photography, tech diving, spearfishing (!) etc. Surveying makes you notice little things. I tell my friends that it is birdwatching underwater. I am also a birder and a board member of Houston Audubon, so I count them too.

If you have been on a REEF Field Survey Trip, where and what was your trip highlight?
My very first REEF Trip was in The Bahamas in 2004, led by Paul Humann himself. It rained all week, and every evening we sloshed our way through the lobby of the nicest business hotel in Nassau in our wet dive gear. Memorable on many levels. Since then, I’ve been on 10 REEF Trips, building my fish ID skills, learning about invasive lionfish, and introducing others to REEF & fish ID.

Do you dive close to where you live, and if so, what is the best part about diving there?
Like most Texans, I love going to Cozumel - a two-hour flight, inexpensive, and excellent diving. We consider Mexico nearby!

What is the most fascinating fish encounter you’ve experienced?
Just last year, I got ‘inked’ by an octopus – not a fish, but definitely memorable. I was swimming back from a dive out to Stingray Tower on Cayman Brac, when I surprised a large octopus in the open sunlight and he inked me!

What is your favorite fish or marine invertebrate? Why is it your favorite?
I love Sargassum Triggerfish, especially their ‘eyeshadow.’

Do you have any surveying, fishwatching, or identification tips for REEF members?
Go on a REEF Trip where you have the opportunity to ‘up your game’ by surveying with experts. I’ve gone on so many non-REEF trips where I was the only surveyor and spent much of my time teaching others about fish basics.

Is there a fish (or marine invertebrate) you haven’t seen yet diving, but would like to?
I retired from my full-time job in 2018 and now work part-time as a corporate director. I finally have time to take some of those bucket list dive trips and hope to learn more about Pacific fish.