New Years Goals for 2016

Photography, Thoughts

Bye bye 2015! I swear, where does the time GO? I hope each and every one of you had an amazing year.

Let’s recap what my New Years Life Goals for 2015 were:

Stay in touch more with family members

Make more presents/gifts for people instead of buying new things

Go SCUBA diving every year

I can definitely say that I stayed in touch with my family more. With visits to Texas and Oregon, I have enjoyed my time with both sides of my family. Although my intentions of making presents, more so drawing presents, I didn’t succeed too well on that. I plan to focus on that this year as well though. I went SCUBA diving all over this year! From Catalina Island to Barbados and Grenada in the Caribbean – I loved being under the waves.

This year, I have big plans. Possibly moving to a different state & starting my Masters Degree! More details to come when everything gets confirmed. But, if you’ve followed my life at all over the last 10 years, you’ll understand that I never set any plans in stone. Life changes fast, and I’m always open to new pathways that open themselves up!

1. Do 10 Sit-Ups and Push-Ups Every Day

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If you don’t know I’m a fitness buff, now you know. I literally just did 10 push-ups and sit-ups and it took less than 2 minutes. That’s 3,650 push-ups and 3,650 sit-ups minimum for the entire year! We often make so many excuses for why we can’t get to the gym, or why being a couch potato is the best option after a crappy day. You have 2 minutes to spare everyday – if you don’t – then you need to change your daily routine

2. Have One “Me Date” Per Month 

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We all know who the most important person in our life is – that is ourselves. If we don’t take care of our body, spirit, mind, and soul, we can’t depend on anyone else to fill those big shoes. We often spend a lot of time by ourselves on our couches watching Netflix and drinking wine (at least I do…), but instead I want to say NO. I am treating MYSELF to a fun day of adventuring, or a delicious dinner, or out to a movie at least once every month. Have you ever been to a movie or dinner by yourself? It’s quite liberating actually. Me time is necessary in this fast-paced crazy world we live amongst. Treat ‘yo’ self as they say on Parks and Recs.

3. Say What I’m Grateful Every Night Before I Go To Sleep

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I’ve actually been doing this goal for the last month or so. It’s nice to close my eyes and reflect on something I am grateful for in this beautiful life of mine. We all have bad days, or horrible weeks, or a terrible month. But, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. You’re alive. You have a roof over your head. You have friends and family who care about you. You’re reading this on your mobile device or your computer. Life could always be worse, so I’m taking a moment every evening to reflect on something I am grateful for.

You Vs. Ocean Creatures

Science, Thoughts

The ocean is a vast, mysterious, and beautiful place. Underwater creatures get the opportunity to grow to extreme weights and lengths compared to us terrestrial animals. Could you imagine walking down the street and seeing 12 foot long crab pass by you by?!

See how Scuba Steve compares to some of the GIANTS OF THE DEEP 😀

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

 

Battle Royale: Shark VS Moray Eel

Thoughts

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.

 

Revelation

Science, Thoughts

Sunset Kayak

I moved to Puerto Rico about a month and a half ago for what I thought was my ‘Dream Job.’ As time passes, I am realizing that this isn’t my ‘Dream Job,’ but instead an eye-opening revelation about what I really want to accomplish in life. I work with 80% kids as my job as a Naturalist. They are definitely a handful and exhausting to keep them entertained for increments of 3 hours at a time back to back everyday. But to be honest, it is so thrilling and rewarding to see how excited they get when we take them to the tide-pools, snorkeling on a coral reef, or even explore a sub-tropical rainforest. Most of these children live in the city (NY), where they don’t get to experience ‘nature’ as often. We even have parents who join in our activities who have never been immersed in a forest, and we have the pleasure to show them a whole new world for the first time.

So, I’ve decided that after my year here, I want to move back to California and get my TEACHING CREDENTIAL! I’ve said it many times before that what I am meant to do on this planet is to educate as many minds as possible about our natural environment and ways to protect it for future generations. My current job has solidified what I want to do in the future – teach kids about natural world and pass onto them all the lessons I’ve learned through my life experiences.

With so many friends who are teachers, I am lucky to have a large community of people willing to answers all the questions that will soon arise once I start this process. It’s actually pretty ironic that I am deciding to become a teacher… in 12th grade at our Senior Breakfast at South Pasadena High School, we voted for people in all sorts of “Best/Most Likely” categories. I won Most Spirited, which is a title I’ve held strong since Elementary School basically. And then out of the BLUE, my class voted me “Most likely to become a teacher at South Pasadena High School.” It looks like my classmates were predicting a future for me even before I knew it!!

I also recently just moved to a different house with a new roommate. It is closer to the beach (literally right across the street), and it’s closer to work. The house is a bit of a fixer-upper, but I think it will be a fun project to take on. My roomie is a cool guy from Washington, who actually works right next door to me at the water sports facility for the Dorado Beach Club. We have a 3rd bedroom open for grabs, which will hopefully be filled by the new Naturalist we are hiring ASAP. We shall see! Things are looking up 🙂

Scuba Obsessed Podcast

Photography, Science, Thoughts

scuba obsessed

Everyone listens to podcasts nowadays – so OF COURSE I was thrilled when the guys of Scuba Obsessed asked me to be a guest on their show! I connected with Darrin and Mack via Skype and we chatted for over an hour about my experiences representing the USA in the Miss Scuba International Pageant, and other various interests/hobbies. You can listen to the podcast on your computer, or download it by clicking the link below:

LISTEN/DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST HERE

Scuba Obsessed Website: http://www.scubaobsessed.com/archives/16174
Scuba Obsessed Twitter: https://twitter.com/scubaobsessed
Scuba Obsessed Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scubaobsessed

While on the Podcast – one listener contacted me and asked if she could interview me on her podcast – Learning To Sea. Of course I agreed! So be sure to stay tuned for that podcast release.

I officially move my life to Puerto Rico in 2 days!!!! I can’t wait to share all my adventures in this new place with you. It’s been 2 weeks filled with a whirlwind of packing and saying goodbye to so many people. I know it won’t hit me until I’m on the airplane… EEEE!

A New Life Is About To Begin

Photography, Science, Thoughts

TravelVigorI have some very exciting news!!

As of February 6, 2013, I have accepted a job offer to be a Naturalist for the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Ritz Carlton Reserve in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico.

This specific job opportunity has actually been in the works for over a year and half now. Finally, the timing worked out perfectly in this instance – and I am ready pursue my life long passions of ocean conservation and environmental education and get paid to do so! I am moving exactly two weeks from today – meaning there will be a lot of packing, selling, moving, crying, laughing, and hugging until I depart for Puerto Rico. I can’t even begin to explain all the emotions I am feeling right now. This is the opportunity of the lifetime and I’ve worked so incredibly hard to get here. I want to thank everyone in my life who has stood beside me and supported me through all my wild ventures. I will be more than happy to be any of your personal tour guides in Puerto Rico when you come visit me 🙂

LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN!

New Years Goals for 2014

Thoughts

Two 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. My 2013 goals were:

Visit the ocean at least once a month

Keep open and honest communication in relationships from the get-go

Volunteer for a new organization

This past year was one for the record books. I’ll describe that in the next post about my highlights/lessons from 2013. The ‘visiting the ocean at least once a month’ was a great goal – I did find myself in situations where it was the last day of the month and I still hadn’t visited the ocean yet. So I would make it a point to go out to the sea and do a morning run/workout along the strand. My new friendships and relationships this past year started off with honesty and open communication – which was very helpful when weeding out the people in my life who were not worth while. NOW – it’s time to create 3 more.

1) Travel to a new country each year – This past year I was lucky enough to travel to China and Malaysia – both of which I had never been to before. I think it’s a beneficial goal to travel the globe. I yearn for adventure and experiencing new cultures.

Monkey

Credit: Chanel Hason | Location: Mabul, Malaysia

2) Write a random post card or letter once a month to a friend/loved one – I’m very old-fashioned in that I LOVE getting actual snail mail. Move aside email, social media, and texting – let’s release that ballpoint pen on paper, stamp it, and stick it in the mailbox. If you’re lucky..you might get one from me REAL soon!

Credit: WWF

Credit: WWF

3)  Read at least one new book every 6 months – I am not much of a (consistent) book person. If I have time in a day (which is rare), it is usually right before I go to bed in which I don’t want to strain my eyes by reading. What tends to happen is that I start a book – get busy – and never finish it. So this goal will help me put aside time and dedicate it to escaping reality and indulging in good book 🙂 Any suggestions??

Credit: TalkAndroid.com

Credit: TalkAndroid.com

Cheers to a new year filled with adventure!

What are your resolutions/goals for 2014?