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?


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!


Going For It

Photography, Science, Thoughts


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 🙂

DONATE HERE: Scuba Miss USA PayPal Donation Page

VISIT: Scuba Miss USA Facebook Page

I AM Scuba Miss USA!



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.


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!


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!

Natural Beauty (New Pics!)

Photography, Thoughts

Good day! I wanted to welcome all my new followers I’ve acquired over the past couple of months – thanks & hope you enjoy my blog 🙂 If you are a photographer – be sure to leave a comment if you want be a part of my blog photography challenge.

WOW can you believe how fast Summer has flown by?! With work and weddings pretty much every weekend of the last couple of months, my life has been GO – GO – GO! Once September hits, I can already feel that my life is going to change big time. I might be moving, getting a new job, participating in an international competition… stay tuned for further details 😉 And all of you will be taking that journey with me.

So I promised some photos from my trip to Monterey Bay last month – and I finally had a free day to edit the pics for your viewing pleasure. We went to the Arroyo Seco in Monterey County which is hidden treasure that I suggest EVERYONE goes to see. It’s the perfect activity in the summer time to hike and explore the wilderness.

Also, as my time starts to free up next month – I will continue to post weekly – so don’t you worry! I’ve got some great posts lined up already in my head.

That’s The Way The Cookie Crumbles..



Sometimes things don’t always go the way you expected. Sometimes you get completely blindsided. Sometimes you’re left standing there wondering…why?

But, there are always hidden positive messages in these occurrences that you must search for when you think all is lost. As I have grown and matured, I’ve truly begun to understand that without pain you will have no growth. You will never always know WHY things happen or WHY people did what they did (which is honestly very hard for me..I always want to know why.. it must be the scientist part of me yearning for concrete evidence and answers 🙂 ). So stop overanalyzing – that will only fuel you to keep digging yourself into a pit of lies and assumptions. Whatever happens, just remember that you are a strong individual who will find the growth the situation to better yourself in the end.

This weekend I am heading to Monterey Bay to visit a lot of old friends from college. I have a jam packed 3 days that I couldn’t be more excited about! I can’t wait to be surrounded by the natural beauty of the peninsula, share stories and laughs with people who make me so happy, and visit my fishy friends under the water in the kept forests. I know I will return home a better person with a rejuvenated soul.

All I can say is roll with the punches and make the best out of every situation that lands in your lap. Remember that life is a sorting process – whether you are sorting through jobs, relationships, friends… in due time you will land your dream job, meet the person you can’t live without, and acquire irreplaceable friends. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles 🙂

Stop by my Facebook Page : Photography + Science = Chanel
 Shoot me a Tweet : PSChanel
Check out my Pinterest : PhotoScience

Beauty and the Beast of Nature



I went back and forth in my mind trying to decide if I should post this video on here or not..but given the fact that nature can be both beautiful and ugly at the same time, I decided not to discriminate. Nature is nature.

Ants have to eat and survive too?

As you just saw, these ants devoured a whole Gecko in only a couple of hours. I started to get grossed out when they began hauling away the finger bones! The species of ant featured in the video are suspected to be red imported fire ants. According to biologist/photographer Dr. Mark W. Moffett, these ants are “highly bred for warfare against each other.” Fire ants leave a nasty sting if you ever come into contact with one, so be weary. The spread of this invasive species across many southern and southeastern states is through the frequency of being stowed aboard ships.


Now let’s leave you with something beautiful. I was lucky enough to go to college in Monterey Bay, where Big Sur was only a hop and a skip away up the freeway. Big Sur was the best place to explore an untouched coastline, hike to a Redwood forest, relax your body and mind in a natural hot springs, and camp under a starry night sky all in one day.

Mystery Of The Mangled Mola

Science, Thoughts

I went to college in Monterey Bay where I was lucky enough to volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.


One of the most fascinating creatures that I feel in love with while volunteering, was the Mola Mola – also known as the Ocean Sunfish. This is one special animal. It’s not the most colorful, easy on the eyes, fast/quick, or appealing fish out there… but it definitely catches your eye.

Baby Mola

Baby Mola

When I came face to face with this fish, I fell in love. I love the fact that this creature is so unique. Kids ran around the Aquarium screaming “Mom, where is the other half of that fish,” “Ewww that’s an ugly fish,” “WOW what is THAT thing?” – whilst I sat there staring at the huge tank in awe.

When I could, I’d let the curious kids know how AWESOME Ocean Sunfish really are! Mola Mola’s are the largest  and heaviest bony fish in the big blue sea – as well as the most parasitic. These animals can grow up to 5,000 lbs and grow up to 10 feet wide x 14 feet high. You will often spot Mola’s at the surface laying sideways inviting birds and smaller fish to pick parasites off its skin. Some have actually been seen breaching 10ft out of the water to try and rid themselves of parasites as well. Since Mola’s are clumsy slow swimmers, they then to feast upon creatures like jellyfish or zooplankton and algae (aka easy targets).

They frequent the shores of Monterey quite often, but I haven’t been lucky enough to see one in the wild (don’t you worry it’s on my Bucket List!). The image above was taken at the Hopkins Marine Institute located right next to the  Monterey Bay Aquarium, where I had a friend working for their Tuna Research and Conservation Center (TRCC). They often had a variety of different animals their holding tanks, and luckily I visited on a day when they were housing 2 baby Sunfish! They were so adorable, I couldn’t get enough of them 🙂 Although, my TRCC friend Luis couldn’t understand why I loved the little buggers so much – it’s ok Luis, I think tuna are cool too!

Any who- I came across this video today of a 2nd grade elementary school class in Carmel CA., investigating why so many Mola’s were washing up dead on the shores of Monterey Bay. It’s super cute – and actually quite informative! Good job future marine biologists 🙂

Spreading some “Ocean Love” for World Oceans Day on June 8th!

Photography, Science, Thoughts

World Oceans Day lands on Friday June 8th this year- a little less than a month away!

I feel like I haven’t shown much “ocean love” in a while…so today that’s going to change!

Here are some photos of different oceans/beaches that I am so lucky to have seen and explored 😀

Have you been to any of these places before??

Great Barrier Reef- Cairns, Australia

Mazatlan, Mexico

Byron Bay, Australia

Heron Island, Australia

Carmel Beach, California

Monterey Bay, California

Point Lobos, California

Napili Kai, Maui, Hawaii

Moorea, Tahiti

Bahia de Los Angeles, Gulf of Mexico

Santa Cruz, California

San Francisco, California

Elephant Seal Beach, Big Sur, California

Moss Landing, California

Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

Newport Beach, California

Pacific Grove, California

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

MY 100th POST!


Good morning my friends (or random web surfers) 🙂

Today I am releasing my 100th post!! I started this blog after I returned from my year abroad in Australia- and didn’t need to write anymore for that blog since I was back in the states. But I still had the URGE to write and express myself after doing it non-stop for a year. I enjoy sharing stories, videos, and photos with you all. Even if nobody read it… I would still love exposing it to the inter-web for anyone to find.

I don’t really know what epic thing to do for my 100th post…maybe share with you some of my favorite digital and film photos?? How about my most popular posts over the last 99 posts?? SURE WHY NOT?!


1) Flatulent Snakes For the WIN! I guess there is a lot of people interesting in the farting habits of snakes…

2) Dogs and Dolphins= Secret Best Friends? Comes in as a close 2nd place. I mean who can’t get enough of 2 cute animals being best friends???

3) Best Picture From The Royal Wedding! Finishes the top 3 blog posts. This one was so popular I think because the picture in this post is soooo hilarious and perfect. That little girl is definitely going to frame that in her house when she grows up.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Soldier Crabs.

Brandon Boyd- Incubus

Curious Sea Otters.

Knock Knock?

Busy Streets.

Sleepy MB Sea Lion.

Byron Bay.

Under The Bridge.

Thank all of your for your support and comments 🙂 They really do make my day!!

Here’s to the next 100 posts!!

Male on Male Squid Sexy Time? Something Sounds Fishy Here..


If you have tentacles, watch out, male deep-sea squid will pounce on you!

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has recorded 2 decades worth of deep-sea squid mating footage. And what they’ve come to acknowledge is that male squid don’t have an issue with mating with both female and male partners. Bisexual squids? Not necessarily..

This same-sex sex isn’t the first we’ve seen in squid- but it’s the first time that it has been as common as male-female sex. Out of 108 squid caught on camera- 39 of them have been identified as male or female- with 19 females and 20 males. Of these 19- 10 females and 9 males showed evidence of mating. The scientists determined that the male squid were trying to mate equally with both sexes.

The way squid mate is quite interesting and unique. The details are still unclear to researchers- but from observations, the male squid ejaculates a packet of sperm- turns it inside out within a membrane then it gets embedded into the skin of the mate. So hopefully if the male is successful- the sperm will stick and the female and choose when and where she wants to fertilize her eggs. (Must be nice.. haha)

Credit: MBARI

Credit: MBARI

As you can see in these photos- There are some white specs just above the female squid’s eye on her mantle. Those are male squid sperm packets.

The second photo is a close up of the sperm packets on the female squid’s mantle- thank you MBARI for the awesome photos!

So are you still wondering if male squid are gay? Well that’s not really the case… since deep-sea squid don’t come into contact with one another too often- their drive to reproduce is enhanced when the come into contact with any other squid (male or female).  It’s better to mate with whoever they come in contact with- than loosing any opportunity to reproduce. The squid live by themselves..so it’s lonely out there in the big blue. All they want to do is ensure the survival of their species…who can blame them?