New Years Goals for 2015

Thoughts

Happy New Year everyone! Three years ago, I started a tradition where I create 3 new goals/standards to live by instead of resolutions. I would rather create standards to uphold throughout the rest of my life than create a ‘resolution’ that would most likely not last the entire year. In review – My 2014 goals were:

Travel to a new country each year

Write a random postcard/letter once a month to a friend/loved one

Read at least one new book every 6 months

In 2014 I did travel to a new country – Belize! It was amazing – the people, the diving, the food. I can’t wait to venture back there. I did go overboard, in a good way, with writing post cards and letters to lots of friends and family members this year while living in Puerto Rico. Physically writing a letter or postcard is such a dying act unfortunately with the invention in the internet and emails…but thankfully I got so many return postcards and letters in the mail that made my day each time 🙂 In terms of reading a new book every 6 months…I managed to read one full book and that was about it. For Xmas this year I asked for the hardcopy of Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please. I am excited to start reading that on the airplane home back to California in a couple of days 🙂 NOW it’s time for my 2015 goals:

1) Stay in touch more with family members No family is perfect. This past year my family made that even more evident than ever before. With the backstabbing and lying occurring all around me, I want to focus on my family members that are open and caring, especially the young ones. After working with children of all ages this past year, I know how important it is to be a part of their life as they are quickly growing, learning, and changing. This goal means more visits, updates, and interactions with family.

Family Goal

2) Make more presents/gifts for people instead of buying new thingsAfter utilizing Pinterest this year for my job, I’ve realized that it is so much more satisfying and thoughtful to make a one of a kind gift than an easy scapegoat gift like a gift card. I especially want to utilized recycled items in my presents for people – you’re helping save the planet and you aren’t spending a lot of money on something new – it’s a WIN-WIN don’t you think?! Use your creativity people 🙂 We learned how to make an angel fish with a palm frond at work a couple of days ago – pretty cool huh?

Angel Fish Palm Leaf Weave

3) Go SCUBA diving every year I’ve been certified since 2006 to explore the oceans underwater. Unfortunately, I haven’t gone SCUBA diving as much as I would like to have over the past 8 years. This year I did A LOT of diving! Since I moved to Puerto Rico in February of 2014, SCUBA diving was much more easily available whenever we had time off of work. I went on 3 different dive boat trips in Puerto Rico, and then I did some dives in Belize as well this past year. If you’ve never been SCUBA diving, I suggest to start putting some money aside in order to get certified. The earth is 75% water, so you essentially haven’t REALLY seen the planet until you’ve seen it under water 😉

Chanel Hason and Sea Turtle

The Hermit Life

Thoughts

Today I wanted to spotlight the elusive and amazing: HERMIT CRAB! I see hermit crabs on the daily here in Puerto Rico, so I decided to learn a little bit more about them. Often times at work, we get these little critters crawling right into our front office! I do get a kick out of it every time it happens…maybe they just fancy a new rash-guard or hat we have on display in our store 😛

Some people I have encountered in the past, don’t know that hermit crabs do not produce their own shell. They are considered part of the recyclers in the ecosystem, since they re-use old snail shells to serve as their shelter. In this post, I  just wanted to highlight some fun facts about hermit crabs that you might not know 🙂 Enjoy!

ChanelHermit

  • There are over 1000 species of hermit crabs in the world.
  • Hermits are social animals (even though its name begs to differ)
  • Hermits are constantly growing, so they much seek out new bigger shells once they outgrow their old one
  • As you’ll see in the video – hermits have a soft (kind of freaky looking) abdomen which is why it must be protected in a hard shell.
  • Hermit crabs in the wild usually live to up to 5-15 years (some in captivity have been recorded for living from 25-40 years).
  • These crabs don’t always grab old snail shells as homes, sometimes they will find a shelter of a can, or a bottle, or even legos (see video below).
  • Hermits are omnivorous animals, pretty much little scavengers of the sea and land.
  • After mating, female hermit crabs carry a large number of eggs in a mass that is attached to her abdomen. She must release the larvae into the sea to hatch, where they molt exposing an adult hermit crab body underneath.
  • Hermit crabs are nocturnal – you’ll see them more active under the cover of darkness
  • They breathe through gills, so they must either live near the ocean or a in very humid climate.

Seeing The Good Happen All Around You

Thoughts
Photo: Felipe Jacome

Photo: Felipe Jacome

Sometimes when you are feeling down, or having self-doubt, you see something that makes you instantaneously feel extremely inspired.

When I went onto my computer recently and saw what my friends and family were accomplishing, all I could do was smile from ear to ear. It’s a reminder that there are good people in this world, and they are making a difference in their special own way.

I just found out my very own uncle is going to be the assistant coach for the Haiti 2014 World Cup Amputee Team. With my father’s side of the family being full-blooded hardcore successful Slovakian soccer players & coaches, I grew up loving and playing that amazing sport. Unfortunately after 2 knee surgeries, I am unable to play the sport any longer. To see these men – these survivors – these lovers of the sport – getting a chance to represent their country in the World Cup – it’s inspiring the say the least. These young men have gone through such horrific tragedies, but that doesn’t put a damper on their passions and dreams. They just acquired 1 new fan to root them along on their tireless journey to the World Cup. Hopefully you will join me too 🙂

My uncle is an amazing and talented soccer coach – the team is so very lucky to have him on their side. Here’s the summary listed on the Pursuit of Hope’s website and the trailer for the video that will make about their journey to the Amputee World Cup in Mexico:

Nearly 1 million people in Haiti are amputees or have disabilities. They are largely outcast. In many cases their families consider them cursed. Dealing with severe poverty and joblessness, these individuals experience the worst of living conditions. They are disregarded, and even discarded.

Pursuit of Hope is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of the Haitian amputee football team as they seek a spot in the 2014 World Cup of Amputee Football.

More than that, Pursuit of Hope tells the story of team members as they seek acceptance in their own country and desire to become models of hope for Haiti and the rest of the world.

 

Now onto another group of men doing good.

For the past couple of years, I have become quite good friends with the Pasadena Fire Department, in particular Fire House 31. They have been super helpful whenever I needed them for anything – helping get rid of a crazy huge wasps nest in my doorway – help get my keys that I locked into my 2nd story apartment unit – star in a promo video for a contest I was competing it – and so much more.

One firemen, Tony Zee, has been a huge supporter of mine ever since I met him. He is always smiling and inspired by accomplishments, but I am also of his. He is an individual you know is genuinely such a kind-hearted and caring individual. He has two wonderful young daughters, and a beautiful wife.

The Fire House 31 was just recently featured on segment for ABC 7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles. They focused on the department’s participation in the ‘Movember’ movement to raise awareness mainly for men’s health issues such as testicular and prostate cancer. I am so happy that they are participating in raising awareness for these persistent issues for men.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE

 

From this video segment, I learned that my friend Tony had battled cancer. I had had no idea! He battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which unfortunately took the lives of close to 19,000 individuals in the United States in 2014 (cancer.gov). He stated that it is one of the top cancers for firemen, and as a survivor, he feels like he should promote and make other firefighters aware of cancers in the fire service industry. Thank you Tony for spreading the knowledge!

So keep your eyes open, and appreciate those all around you who are doing something to make the world a better place. 

Ritz Carlton Reserve Photo Walk

Photography, Thoughts

After being sick and out of commission for over a week with the mosquito virus, Chikungunya, I decided to grab my camera and go for a walk around the Dorado Beach, Ritz Carlton Reserve property. The fresh air was much needed! I have to admit, I work on one of the most beautiful properties in the world. From the gorgeous beaches to the sub-tropical rainforest, there is beauty everywhere you look. Hopefully I was able to capture some of that beauty in my photographs. 

ALSO – Please visit my NEW ADDITION to the blog – the VIDEO section 😀

100 Days Project: COMPLETE

Photography, Thoughts

MISSION COMPLETE!

 

WAHOO! I did it! 100 Days Project is complete. It’s been quite the journey let me tell you. I want to thank all my friends, and even strangers, who assisted in taking pictures of me doing handstands. I also want to show appreciation for those individuals who kept rooting me on each and everyday to keep producing more epic handstands.

This project has actually taught me a lot about myself. I was able to get out of my comfort zone doing handstands in very public locations. Having a creative task to complete everyday for 100 days taught me about consistency and discipline as well. I thought it was going to be SO easy to simply do a handstand everyday, but sometimes that wasn’t the case. I’m not going to lie, some days I took 2 handstand photos because I knew the next day I wouldn’t have time for one if we were too busy at work. Don’t hate me haha. At least I was planning ahead right? In fact, on Day 100 I was diagnosed at the hospital with the Chikungunya Mosquito Virus :/ Not fun. Luckily I had an epic photo from the day before on our scuba dive with a sea turtle that was worthy of being the final handstand of the project.

To see my 100 Days Project Page – CLICK HERE

 

I can’t tell you how many messages I received during this project where people said that I helped inspire them in their life in one way or another, or that they just looked forward everyday to see what handstand I did next. It was those kinds of messages that kept me going whenever I doubted myself at all 🙂 So to you, I say thank you.

Hope you enjoy the full ensemble of 100 days of handstands below! 

Which one is your favorite?

 

Blood Is (Not Always) Thicker Than Water

Thoughts
Chanel and Grandpa Houston

Chanel and Grandpa Houston

 

Let me first start off by stating that I don’t want to offend anyone in my family with this post – this is just a summary of my feelings and emotions that I need to release.

For the past couple of years, I’ve seen a lot of changes within my family – on both my mother’s and father’s side. Today, I’d like to share some of my feelings and emotions with what has been going on. Releasing it here is sort of a therapy session for me…I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section if anything relates to your life as well.

Growing up, you tend to think that you have the perfect family. You look up to your family members and think that they are the best role models for you in life, or at least they should be.

As you get older, to fog dissipates and you see the reality of the situation. Let’s start from the beginning:

My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. My mom got full custody, so most of my life was spent with her raising me. In terms of my father, I would see him more often when I was younger for holidays and such, but over time, the frequency decreased. I rarely see or speak with him now. Throughout my life, I would look at my friends whose parents were still married, and wonder what it would be like to have a father in my household growing up. Most of my friends dads basically took me in as one of their own, which was wonderful and I am very thankful for that. Big props to my mom though for being a kickass single mother and providing the world and more for me growing up in a single parent household.

I am lucky that I was close to both sides of my family growing up. My dad’s side of the family consist of some of the most amazing, giving, kind-hearted people I’ve ever met. My Hason Grandparents will always be the most selfless individuals and loving individuals I have the pleasure of being related to. They didn’t have much, but they didn’t need much. They welcomed anyone with open arms, and wouldn’t let them leave the house without a full tummy or something to takeaway for the road. Even though they are not fully themselves right now as they are both are in hospice care due to the effects of alzheimer’s and dementia, the memory of how they once were will live on forever within my mind. My Aunt V is another beautiful soul who gives and gives and never expects something in return. Her kind and selfless acts have not gone unnoticed. My mom’s side of the family is a bit smaller, but we were all very close when I was younger.

My mom’s mother and stepdad were like my second set of parents growing up. My Grandma Houston has been my travel tour guide across the globe. I am so thankful that she has shown me so many amazing places, and has supported my hopes and dreams. My Grandpa Houston was always full of wonderful advice. I wish I had spent more time talking to him about life in my younger years. He passed away when I was in Middle School, and that began the downward spiral of that side of the family. Things have never been the same since he left the planet – he was the glue to the family. My mom has 2 sisters, so it’s a lot of estrogen to handle on holidays and other special occasions.

Currently, both sides of my family have dealt with some wild and crazy scenarios. I won’t get into the full details, but both situations have just left me speechless and dumbfounded. Let’s just say that no ‘family’ holiday will ever be the same. I honestly don’t mind about not spending the holidays with my full family anymore since the most recent memories have been filled with anxiety, anger, and lies. What happened to all the love?

I always feel like the middle man in every situation, which gets old really quickly. Sometimes I wonder how adults can act so childish, and how I can even be related to those individuals. You begin to see certain traits your family members portray, and then make a note to not be like that (especially whenever you have children). It’s sad when you grow up looking up to certain individuals, and then you realize all their faults. You want your family to be perfect, but no family is ever that way. I am not saying I am better than anyone else, don’t get my wrong. I have my faults as well. I’m just discussing how the mold I had for most of my life about certain individuals has been completely cracked into millions of pieces.

There was a time I though my friends families were perfect when I was growing up. But over time I saw many behind the scenes arguments and tears that would conclude the opposite. Life isn’t perfect. Families aren’t perfect. I had to stop comparing my family to others – it’s just not the way to look about things in life. Every situation is different.

Blood is not always thicker than water. I’m lucky that people I consider family range outside of blood relation. I’ve got a strong foundation of amazing friends who have seen me at my best and at my worst, and are still here rooting for me to succeed at life. I can’t thank those individuals enough for being fantastic mentors, parent figures, teachers, best friends, and role models for me.

Thanks for listening/reading. It feels good to get that all out.

Swimming With Wild Dolphins

Science, Thoughts

There are moments in your life you never expect. 

There are moments that you can only imagine.

There are moments that leave you speechless.

There are moments you can only hope for.

There are moments that are unreal.

There are moments like this…

http://vimeo.com/chanelhason/dolphins This happened after a couple boat dives off the coast of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. On our way back to the marina, the captain spotted a pod of dolphins swimming in front of us. As we got closer, they started to play in the wake of the boat. Soon, the boat slowed down to a stop. My friend Sara asked the captain if we could hop off the back of the boat and get a closer look at the dolphins. He was hesitant to say yes, mostly because he didn’t want to get our hopes up, since often the dolphins immediately swim away when people jump into the water with them. BUT- we took the risk 🙂 I only had my dive fins, and I didn’t want to fuss with putting my booties on, so I just grabbed my mask, no snorkel, and jumped into the open sea with my GoPro. WOW. All I kept saying was:

“THIS IS SO COOL!”

I had no other words. I was speechless. It was a moment that compares to no other. They were Atlantic spotted dolphins, which I had never seen before in the wild. You can see that the older dolphins had more prominent spotting, and the younger ones were more uniformly grey with less spots. They were BEAUTIFUL. One of the most amazing things about swimming with them was listening to their clicks and whistles underwater – the sounds were so magnifying! They were swimming in small groups of up to 3-5 individuals, and bouncing between one person floating in the ocean to the other. They swam amongst us for at least 15 minutes (which felt like an eternity). I honestly didn’t want to get out of the water. Yes, I did understand that I was interacting with wild animals. Dolphins do sometimes show aggression towards humans (it’s been video documented). But, in all reality, if I had to get hurt by something in the ocean, I wouldn’t be ashamed if it ended up being a dolphin. Luckily, the dolphins we encountered were very friendly and curious, just like the fascinated humans staring back at them in the water.

Definitely, one of the best moments of my life.

 

Toro Verde

Secret To Life

Thoughts

My soul is not contained within the limits of my body, my body is contained within the limitless of my soul.

The effect you have on others, is the most valuable currency there is. Because everything you gain in life with rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.

Now fear is going to be a player in your life. You get to decide how much. You could spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about the pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here in the decisions we make in this moment which are based in either love or fear.

So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised of as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, you can ask the universe for it.

Doesn’t that video just move & inspire you? It did for me.
I hear so often that people are truly impressed and amazed that I have been so gung-ho about following my dreams and passions in life, and that I’m succeeding. Whether that be studying abroad in Australia for a year, being short-listed in Australia’s Best Job In The World Contest, becoming Miss Scuba USA 2013, or packing and selling my life in 2 weeks to move to Puerto Rico for a job of a lifetime. No, all these things didn’t ‘just happen’ to me. And Yes, there have been plenty of opportunities that I didn’t get. But the thing is – NEVER GIVE UP. To be honest, I don’t know what other way to live. I know that I’m not on this planet for forever, and so why waste any of the precious time that I have.
My next step in life is to get my teaching credential. After that, who knows where that might take me. I’d love to do more traveling because that’s when I truly feel small on this large planet of knowledge, beauty, and wonder. The more I see of the world, the more fascinated and curious I become. As long as I can educate people about the ocean and sustainability, I will die happy.
So go out there – do what you love – find a way to make it happen – never give up – don’t settle – and smile 🙂

 

Should You Stop Eating Fish?

Science, Thoughts

Mermaid Chanel

Do you eat fish?

 I get this question ALL THE TIME

My answer: NO

 

When did this happen? Not too long ago. To be honest, I never liked eating any type of fish as I was growing up (with the exception of shrimp). I do splurge on occasion at sushi restaurants on tempura shrimp rolls; yes I have my faults. I’m trying to stop since I know shrimp are one of the largest by-catch fishery in the world. That means for every 1 pound of shrimp caught, there’s around 5 pounds of ‘non-shrimp’ animals caught that most often are pulled up dead in the nets and just tossed overboard.

Tuna: I find the smell repulsive. Salmon: no thank you. Those were basically the only fish I remember my mom making me when I was young. For family holidays, my aunt loved cooking lobster. While everyone feasted on that red crustacean what did I eat? Mac and Cheese of course!

After dedicating my life to conserving the ocean and the planet, I’ve concluded many concrete reasons why I shouldn’t eat fish. Without going into too much detail for my reasoning – it boils down to these key points: when it comes to detrimental fishing practices, over-fishing, mercury poisoning, the extremely high percentage of mislabeling of fish in stores/restaurants,  failed fishing law enforcement, and so forth… It is easy for me to pass on eating fish.

One of my marine science heroes is Sylvia Earl. After reading the article featured below the other day, it was like a breathe of fresh air. Dr. Earl explains so beautifully why she also doesn’t eat fish – and it was perfect. I agree with everything she says – let me know if this changes the way you think about eating fish now.

 

Article Below Credited to : Natasha Scripture from Idea.Ted.Com

Oceanographer (and TED Prize winner) Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent half a century campaigning to save the world’s seas. A new Netflix original documentary about her life’s work sheds light on the environmental impact of the commercial fishing industry and Earle’s crusade to create underwater “hope spots” through her organization, Mission Blue. After watching the film, it’s hard not to wonder: Are any fish still okay to eat? We turned to our favorite aquanaut for advice. Below, check out Earle’s take on wild fish, tuna rolls, and her ideal meal.
To restore the ocean ecosystem, you’re saying we must put an end to overfishing and bottom trawling, which you liken to “catching songbirds with a bulldozer.” Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?
Except for those living in coastal communities — or even inland if we’re talking freshwater species — for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife. We have seen such a sharp decline in the fish that we consume in my lifetime that I personally choose not to eat any. In the end, it’s a choice.
What if I just want to have a tuna roll every once in a while, as a treat? Would that be so bad?
Ask yourself this: is it more important to you to consume fish, or to think of them as being here for a larger purpose? Today, marine fish are being caught with methods that our predecessors could not even imagine. Our use of large-scale extraction of wildlife from the sea is profoundly detrimental to the environment. We’re using modern techniques capable of taking far more than our natural systems can replenish. Think about it — the factory ships that use enormous nets or log lines, some of which are 50- to 60-miles long, with baited hooks every few feet, they take more than can be replenished naturally, and they take indiscriminately. Worst of all are the bottom trawls that scoop up the whole ecosystem. And most of what’s taken in them is simply discarded. With respect to the ocean systems, they’re just leaving a hole. A huge space that is not going to be filled overnight. It’s not eco-conscious to eat tuna — maybe thousands of plants make a single pound of Blue Fin Tuna. It’s also difficult to replenish that species of fish, as they take years to mature. Not to mention that you’re consuming all of the toxins that the fish has consumed over the years.
Sometimes it gets confusing. We’re told not to eat so many things already — like not to consume cows, pigs or chickens from factory farms for both health and moral reasons. Now you’re saying we shouldn’t eat fish either. Does that mean we should all follow a plant-based diet, for both health and moral reasons?
It’s obvious. It’s not a matter of me saying so. It’s not a matter of opinion. There’s no question that a plant-based diet is better for you and better for the planet. If you ask me, the best thing is a plant-based diet — or a largely plant-based diet, with small amounts of meat coming from plant-eating animals. I’m not saying that you have to stop eating meat, but think about what it takes to make a plant compared to what it takes to make a plant-eater, like a cow, chicken or pig. Even carnivores on land are lower on the food chain than most fish. Think of a tiger or lion or a snow leopard. They eat plant-eating animals. They eat rabbits or deer. So, food chains on land tend to be fairly short. Over 10,000 years, we have come to understand that it’s far more efficient not to eat carnivores. We eat grazers, the ones that we choose to raise, such as cows and pigs. Perversely, many of the animals that are natural grazers, we are force feeding wild fish. We’re taking large quantities of ocean wildlife, grinding them up, and turning them into chicken food or cow food or pig food — or even into fish food.
IF YOU HAVE TO EAT MEAT, OR RATHER CHOOSE TO EAT MEAT, EAT ANIMALS THAT EAT PLANTS.
So if you have to eat meat, or rather choose to eat meat, eat animals that eat plants. In the case of fish, there are long and twisted food chains — for example, the tuna that eats fish that eats fish that eats fish. We choose to go high up the food chain when we eat halibut or swordfish or tuna or lobster, but ultimately that’s not what’s good for us or for the ocean.
You’ve mentioned that a sea bass can live up to 80 years and that we’re often unaware of how old the fish is that we’re consuming. Why is that important to consider?
We need to consider the bioaccumulation of what’s in the ocean. Mercury concerns exist with good reason, especially when eating carnivorous fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, and orange roughy. It’s not the smartest thing for our personal health because of what accumulates in these top carnivores over the years. If you want to eat responsibly, not just for your health but again for the health of the planet, know that the longer an animal is exposed to the world as it is today, the greater the chance of accumulating the toxins that now exist within the ocean or within freshwater, or even on land. What farmers choose to grow for consumption — for economic and taste reasons — tend to be young animals, like chickens, barely a year old, not 10-year-old hens. In fact, hens don’t usually get to be that old. We eat cows young — yearlings, sometimes two-years-old, but not 10 or 20 years old. We eat far more animals that are a few months old, not years in the making. But in the ocean, it takes 10-14 years for a Blue Fin tuna to mature, let alone to reach its full potential. So let’s say you take a young tuna, 10-years-old — think of how many fish have been consumed in a 10-year period to make even a pound of one of those wild ocean carnivores.
What about local fishers who depend on fishing as a means of survival?
I do have sympathy for those who have a long tradition of making their living by extracting wildlife. I don’t think they should be targeted as the problem. But even they know that, armed with modern technologies, they have the power to extract far beyond what natural systems can produce. We need common-sense steps to protect feeding and breeding areas in coastal areas. We need to have a system with restrictions, not just be able to take stuff from all places at all times in unrestricted numbers. We have a chance now, because we now know what we could not understand a few decades ago. Smart agriculture may be an option for providing food for people who like to have aquatic creatures. But it has to be done with extreme care and with protection. We need a safe haven for these wild creatures, to recover from what we have already taken, as well as sustain what we might take in the future.
What about catch shares and privatized fish farming?
Those are well-intentioned, but not approaches that I necessarily endorse. I think that the best value for aquaculture comes in closed systems where you recycle water, capture nutrients, and do not let the nutrients that are produced by the fish escape, which is what happens in these open-sea farms. In fact, it can be a problem when you concentrate fish and don’t allow them to move around. Or even when they have these open pens, which they are proposing to float widely in the ocean. These are approaches that are aimed at service choices, not needs. These approaches continue to focus on the luxury taste we have acquired, not the need that people have for food. For food, the best value you get is in raising plant-eating fish under circumstances where, as they say, you get “more crop per drop”; where you capture the nutrients and recycle them into plant-based farms. In nature, there is no waste. Part of the problem in taking so many fish out of the ocean is that you’re breaking the lakes and the crucial chain that gives back with its constant movement of nutrients. A smart aquaculture system is not one that is in the ocean or even in a natural body of water, but one that is designed like an aquarium, functioning like a big figure eight: plants on one side, fish on the other. The plants go to the fish and the nutrients go to feed a vegetable garden, with sunlight driving it all. The fish farms that raise carnivores need to be looked at with the understanding that taking large quantities of wildlife, wild fish, to get small quantities of farm fish, is not a sensible way to run a planet.
OK. You’ve convinced me. No more fish. When did you decide to give it up?
It was a gradual process. I come from an omnivorous dining family and eating seafood was just a natural thing to do. First in New Jersey, where the wildlife was captured and consumed locally, then in Florida. But even when I lived in Florida, it was clear that the numbers were going down as our numbers were going up. Now with 7 billion people on the planet, eating wildlife has to be a luxury, except for in those coastal communities that have few choices about what to consume. Today, armed with modern technologies, we can easily diminish and eliminate local wildlife. It isn’t like 10,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago or even 50 years ago. These days, our capacity to kill greatly exceeds the capacity of the natural systems to replenish. The amazing thing is that our focus is on looking at ocean wildlife primarily as food. In North America really, it is always a choice. It is never, as far as I can tell, a true necessity, given our access to other food sources. So I choose not to eat it.
What is your ideal meal? For example, if you could have anything for dinner tonight, what would it be? A sustainable meal of course.
There are so many choices. It’s not coming down to any one particular thing. I love the creative choices that are now available that didn’t exist when I was a child. Grains that are high in protein and have much more flavor than some of the more traditional ones like rice, and variations on the theme of legumes, eaten raw or cooked or incorporated into various recipes. People think of a plant-based diet as boring. But it’s only in your imagination, or lack of it, that plants are boring. There are 250,000 kinds of land-based plants — and then in the ocean, depending on how you count, if you include the plankton — you’re looking at maybe another 20,000 that we know about, including seaweed cultivated for the omega oils that people want. You don’t have to kill fish to acquire omega oils.
One last question. You’ve logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, researching and observing wildlife. Is it true that different fish have different personalities?
The wonderful thing about life as a biologist is that every individual — not just people or cats or dogs or horses — but all living things, even trees, are unique. Every being is unique. It’s just a fact. And certainly with fish, like birds, they all have a distinctive appearance and if you’re sharp enough to distinguish one from another you soon begin to see that they behave differently. If that’s personality, which I guess it is, each one has its own little quirks. For example, some fish are more aggressive, some are shy. And it’s wonderful spending thousands of hours under the ocean getting to know not just “the grand suite” or the kaleidoscope of life out there, but also to recognize all the individual pieces.

Learning to Sea Podcast

Science, Thoughts

 

Miss Scuba USA


LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE

 

I was recently interviewed by Ashley Hasna, who started the Podcast –> Learning to Sea. We chatted about how I got involved in the marine biology field, and how that lead me to becoming Miss Scuba USA 2013. I also throw out some fun facts about the Miss Scuba International Pageant that happened behind the scenes – pretty funny stuff! Here’s a little more about the podcast itself:

Whether living on, near, or far from the water, this is a place to comprehensively learn, love, and share your enthusiasm about the ocean.  We’re covering the ocean from fact to folklore.

Find latest ocean news, interesting crafts, book reviews, and more on the blog. Also hear from ocean experts and enthusiasts on the Learning to Sea podcast. Connection is key, so come down to sea level and enjoy the tide.

Ashley had heard my previous appearance on the Scuba Obsessed Podcast, and reached out to me to see if I would like to be interviewed on her podcast as well. I said OF COURSE! I love meeting and connecting with people from all over the world – luckily podcasts are a great way to do that 🙂 You can listen to the podcast by clicking this link or downloading it on iTunes as well. Be sure to follow all of Learning to Sea’s social media outlets 😀

Follow Learning to Sea:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram