New Years Goals for 2015

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

Swimming With Wild Dolphins

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.

 

Learning to Sea Podcast

 

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

 

Battle Royale: Shark VS Moray Eel

I can always be certain that the underwater world will always astound, amaze, mystify and sometimes downright scare me haha.

For example, the video below is a battle between a giant moral eel & a juvenile white tip reef shark. DO NOT MISS THE ENDING OF THE VIDEO!

I have never seen a moral eel this big in my life…it’s massive! The only moral eels I’ve seen so far in Puerto Rico have been very small in comparison. I did some research on moral eels after watching this video, and decided to share some of the fun facts I discovered:


Fun Facts about Moral Eels:

 

– Morays can cause ciguatera food poisoning if eaten by humans. The symptoms include serious gastrointestinal and neurological conditions.

– Moray eels are one of the few species of fish that can swim backwards.

– Morays have the ability to tie their bodies into knots in order to gain leverage when tearing up their food.

– Unlike other eels, moral eels have 2 sets of sharp teeth. The first set is located in the jaw, and the other in the throat. Teeth located in the throat are used for breaking up the food and for facilitated digestion.

 

MONTH 1 – Puerto Rico

chanelhason.naturalist

Hello blog world – oh how I have missed you! I apologize for the absence over the last month; I shall use the “moving my entire life to a new part of the world” excuse.

So today marks the 1-month anniversary of my bold, wild, crazy, exciting, and exhilarating move to Puerto Rico. If you don’t know the backstory already about why I moved – read my previous post.

To be completely honest, it has been a tough adjustment. Yes, I moved to a Caribbean Island and it’s sunny and 80 degrees year round…but it hasn’t been all sunshine for me. To completely sell your life and belongings, say goodbye to friends, family, and loved ones in just 2 short weeks before I made a drastic move across the globe; it didn’t really hit me until I arrived here. It all happened in a blink of an eye. But, this opportunity was not something I could pass up. It’s what I’ve been striving for basically my entire life. I can already feel that this experience will lead me to something wonderful. What’s life without taking risks?

TRANSPORTATION: I don’t have a car, but I did buy a bike. I’m actually quite nervous to drive here…the rules of the road most often don’t apply here in Puerto Rico haha. I mostly walk along the beach every morning to work which is 3 miles (takes me about an hour) – which is soothing and relaxing. Whenever possible, I try and get rides from friends to and from places 🙂

WORK: My job as a Naturalist is definitely A LOT of work. We are not only Naturalists, but we are housekeepers, chefs, baby-sitters, entertainers, and have to always be up for anything. We have a lot on our plates each week, but it’s always fun to know that no one-day at work will ever be the same. We have a multiple activities – mainly 3 a day. That ranges from coral reef snorkeling in the morning, snorkeling with underwater photography, night snorkeling, eco-nature hikes, creatures of the night (forest at night), ambassadors in the kitchen (eco-cooking), fish form and function, Taino arts and crafts (native people of Puerto Rico), sunset kayaking, kayaking and snorkeling adventure, and more.

There are only 2 current Naturalists – but my coworker who has been here a year is leaving in April to pursue other ventures. So, I am hoping we hire a new Naturalist ASAP because doing all the work we have to do alone is very difficult. Do you want to apply? 😉 Here’s my first GoPro video I made for our department.

FOOD: Another big adjustment is getting used the cuisine. Being a vegetarian is a struggle. The Puerto Rican culture is very into their fast food chains, fried meats, and fish. Finding fresh produce is like finding a diamond in the rough. California has it GOOD (aka an endless array of fruits/veggies/GMO free/gluten free goodies), let me tell you.  It’s been quite the challenge to continue to eat healthy, but thankfully I’ve got some connections in the California who have hooked me up with some great care packages. Also, I’ve figured out that COSTCO has the best produce thus far.

FITNESS: In terms of fitness, I’ve begun to do more workouts at home, since I don’t have time to go to a gym with my work schedule. There is a CrossFit gym (aka someone’s house) up the street from me that I’d love to get involved in! But, the only bad part of that is timing with my work schedule :/

WEATHER: The weather here is nothing to whine about – it’s consistently been 80+ degrees and sunny everyday. The water is warm (75-79 degrees) everyday as well! My body is getting used to the humidity, which I can’t complain about either. Waking up every morning and knowing I never have to wear pants…is amazing.

FUTURE: I am very excited actually to put my own flair on the Ambassadors program. I’ve already been working with my boss on adjusting some programs and spicing up the decor. I love being able to have the freedom to speak up here- I am very lucky in that sense. Jean-Michel Cousteau and Dr. Richard Murphy are both coming out in May this year to Puerto Rico to visit our Ambassadors of the Environment location. I cannot wait! I love having something to look forward to, and meeting these two influential and ocean heroes will be amazing. Adios!

Lessons and Highlights of 2013

Goodbye 2013, HELLO 2014!

What an unforgettable year 2013 was… it felt like so much was packed into those little 12 months. 2013 year was filled with risks and opportunities of a lifetime. Through all the experiences I had this year, nothing is more precious than the people around you who have proved that they support you 110% in life. I want to personally thank everyone who supported all my crazy life adventures in 2013. Whether you simply liked a Facebook Page, donated money to help get my to Malaysia for Miss Scuba International, sent a personal inspirational note to my inbox, or just verbally wished me luck on my ventures – I honestly couldn’t have gotten this far in life without you. Two words that sums up 2013: Thankful and Grateful.

I’d love to hear from you – please comment below: How was your 2013 year? What did you learn? What were some highlights?

LESSONS LEARNED:

I learned that taking risks has its advantages.
I learned that a good friend will always come back to you in the end.
I learned that being a vegetarian was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I learned that juicing is a delicious and an exciting new addition to my healthy/fit lifestyle.
I learned that life is short, and there’s no reason to not do something you want to do.
I learned that being confident in your own skin shines brighter than anything else.
I learned that being in a beauty pageant is exhausting work.
I learned that doing hand-stands passes the time real well.
I learned how fortunate I am to have a strong, stable, and fantastic group of individuals who have my back with any wild and crazy venture I choose to take.
I learned that there are more nice people in the world then there are bad.
I learned that the worse thing someone can say when you ask them something is ‘no’ – so don’t be afraid to ask for something you want.
I learned that finding a pair of heels you can actually walk in comfortably – is like finding a needle in a haystack!

HIGHLIGHTS:

Going For It

Chanel03

In just 3 short weeks, I will be sitting on a plane traveling across the world to Malaysia.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I have never competed in a Beauty Pageant before. I have no idea what to expect. I have no idea what we will be doing for the 2 weeks I am there. My feet prefer flip flops over heels. I’m not a model. But – that’s not stopping me. The fear of the unknown is where excitement stems. 

I am passionate. I am strong. I am an environmentalist. I am a scuba diver. I am a marine conservationist. I am a photographer. I am a lover. I am positive. I am a blogger. I am an adventurer. I am a woman in science. I am a health nut. I am a fitness guru. I am competitive. I am ready. I am going for it.

Opportunities like these don’t come around too often. My passion is the ocean and protecting it, and that’s what I’m going to showcase in full force at the Miss Scuba International Pageant. I’m so ready to get my feet wet!

I decided to host a Silent Auction Fundraiser this weekend to help fund my expenses to compete in the Miss Scuba International Pageant. I am fiscally responsible for my airfare, as well as clothing/equipment. The funds are totaling over $3000 very quickly. As a single independent passionate woman, I am reaching out to others to help make my dreams come true.

I am so lucky to have amazing friends and family who believe in me and my dreams. Many of you have known me since I was a little girl, and understand this journey I have been on has led me here for a reason. I have incredible people donating and assisting in gathering items for the Silent Auction, which I couldn’t have done this all without them. SO THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Everyone is invited – please feel free to join if you are in the area 🙂
SilentAuctionFlyer

DONATE HERE: Scuba Miss USA PayPal Donation Page

VISIT: Scuba Miss USA Facebook Page

I AM Scuba Miss USA!

instagrammissscuba
BIG NEWS!

After the Best Jobs in the World Contest, I got approached by a wonderful woman by the name of Ashlee Smith on Facebook. She informed me that she was the 2nd Runner Up in the 2012 Miss Scuba International Pageant, and that I would be a great representative for the USA this year. At first I was like, “Wait a minute..how did I not know of this amazing contest before?!” Well, after some research I learned that this pageant began in 2011. But, the basis of this pageant is right up my ocean conservation alley!

I turned in my application, and soon found out that I was a top contender to represent the USA in the Miss Scuba International Pageant. I was actually chatting with a long time friend today about this whole experience, and he said:

Well, I know you’ve been laying down the bricks for something like this for a long, long, LONG time. If you ask me, you’ve created this path yourself. Things happen for a reason, and this is proof you’ve been on the right path all along. Super stoked for you.
I really took this comment to heart. My whole life has been dedicated to learning and continually falling in love with the ocean. I am meant to educate as many people as possible about protecting our planet. The Miss Scuba International Pageant is made for me.

Please feel free to review the history of the Miss Scuba International Pageant as stated on their website:

The Miss Scuba International pageant was held for the very first time in 2011. There has been many a beauty pageant held in the past, many embracing great causes, however none yet have focused on our oceans. Life on Earth as we know it today began with our oceans. Thus, we decided that it is time that an event such as this is produced to celebrate, not only, the inner beauty and courage of today’s modern women, but also to simultaneously advocate worldwide marine conservation.

The Miss Scuba International Organization is founded by Mr Robert Lo who is also the proprietor of the Sipadan Mabul Resort (SMART) and Mabul Water Bungalows, and as such is a strong believer in sustainable development within the realms of our marine environment. He hopes that by sharing the beauty and wonders of the underwater world via beauty queens, it will enable more people to understand how fragile our oceans are and how much more we all need to play our individual little roles to make a big difference in protecting it.

The winning delegate of the Miss Scuba International competition will undertake a year of ocean conservation campaigns to educate and inspire the desire in all of us to do our best to safeguard our oceans. The pageant will also offer her a unique and comprehensive platform to launch her career and personal development.

Additionally, we also aim to promote safe diving practices through worldwide professional training organizations, and elevate international tourism and cultural appreciation. As people travel to far off destinations to dive, they also learn to appreciate the cultural diversity that makes our world such an interesting tapestry.

Low and behold – I was chosen as SCUBA MISS USA 2013!!! I definitely did a little dance of joy and happiness after I got off that faithful phone call. I can’t express how honored and overwhelmed with compassion to represent my amazing country.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?

I am going to Malaysia for 2 weeks in December to compete in the Miss Scuba International Pageant. I never thought I’d participate in a beauty pageant before.. But to be honest, I view this pageant as something so much more. The MSI is sponsored by some big names in the marine conservation, tourism, and diving industries. As many of you know from reading my blog over the years, my passion is marine conservation and photography. I am hoping to gain some valuable connections within the marine conservation industry, and to of course just soak in this amazing once in a lifetime experience!

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Although my accommodation while visiting Malaysia is covered, I am personally responsible for my roundtrip airfare (~$2000), plus all of my clothing/accessories needed for the pageant ($1000+). It sure does add up… which is why I am asking for help from all you kind-hearted individuals out there who recognize and appreciate passion when you see it.

I’ve raised almost $1000 so far from so many generous kind people in my life, and even some individuals I don’t even know personally. If you believe in marine conservation, ecotourism, women in science, and environmental education – please donate anything you have to spare :

Chanel’s PayPal Donation page

(Photo: Nicole Strack Photography)

(Photo: Nicole Strack Photography)

 

 Also, please visit my Scuba Miss USA FACEBOOK page and ‘like’ it! I can’t wait to share this amazing adventure with you all!