New State | New Chapter

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My passion and drive are two things that never diminish.

2016 has been quite the roller coaster to say the least, but I finally feel like it’s turning around for the better. Let’s rewind a year (aka 2015). I originally moved back to California from Puerto Rico to attend CSULA for my teaching credential in science. I completed one semester, and realized that it was not the correct pathway for me. My mom and grandma told me from the beginning that I couldn’t be contained in a 4-walled classroom for very long and be happy… turns out they were right.

I have family in Portland, Oregon, so I began to look into some graduate programs up there for a change of scenery, and also to be closer to them. Portland(ia) is very green & eco-conscious, so I knew it would be a good place to look for environmental education opportunities. It didn’t take very long until I found a program that was PHENOMENAL.

At Portland State University, they offer a Master of Science specializing on Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE). When you say it out loud it’s a mouthful, but it still doesn’t beat my previous degree: Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science Technology and Policy focusing on Marine and Coastal Ecology. Say that five times fast! 

I digress… continuing on with the story… I researched the graduate program more in-depth and ended up attending an LSE Open House last October at the university. My cousin Tiffany and I arrived couple minutes late to the Open House unfortunately, but we still ended up conversing with one of the professors of the program and a previous LSE graduate. They were both very welcoming and helpful, and I left feeling overcome with a mixture joy and relief that this program was truly meant for me. Ultimately, I want to be a Director of Education for an aquarium or non-profit, and/or eventually create my own environmental school focusing in marine conservation. A master of science degree would help me achieve that goal!

Once I had finished my meeting with the professor, Tiffany insisted on taking a photo of me against this wall at the LSE Department (since it WAS going to be my new school eventually). While we were in the middle of taking the photo (seen above), a gentleman walked up who had guided us earlier when we first walked into the offices. He was just checking in on us to make sure we were successful in locating a professor to speak with. Low and behold, he was the Admissions and Student Support Specialist for the LSE Program! I immediately felt like a complete idiot for taking this silly picture while he was trying to check in on us, but he was a good sport about it all 😛

Long story short – I applied – and got accepted earlier this month! I’m not going to lie, I went back and forth with my final decision. Paying out of state tuition is A LOT of money, but my close friend/mentor said don’t let money be the deciding factor if that’s the only thing holding you back. He is right. I’m 28, single, no kids, and I don’t have any other seemingly huge excuse to keep me from making this next life move. It’s time for a new state – new friends – new adventures – and new memories for (at least) the next 2 years!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me in this process – I have leaned upon many of you in this final decision. I appreciate your support whole heartedly – and I can’t wait to have you all visit me! There will be many Pacific Northwest adventures to come, I am sure of it. Time to bust out my flannels and rain boots…

See you in July, Portland!

 

PS – If you know of any potential job opportunities or housing (preferably furnished) in Portland –> PLEASE COMMENT BELOW ❤ ! 

 

 

Daily Cephalopod Dose

My favorite animals on the planet are members of the molluscan class, Cephalopoda. This class includes these magnificent creatures:
octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus.

Why would I love such weird, scary, freaky, alien-like animals?

Just watch the video below and and you’ll see they are fascinating, highly intelligent, and beautiful animals.

On The Same Level

I watched this video of Jane Goodall tonight, and it clicked with me VERY strongly.

Mind, Body & Soul

Every point she hits, I agree. Every experience she speaks of, I relate.

The majority of the problems on our planet result from human actions. The truth of the matter is, we have overpopulated the planet. We are abusing and depleting our natural resources, and ultimately leading to a future of intense suffering for the next generation. But, there’s not easy way around solving that matter. With morals and ethics involved, no government official is going to bring up this topic.

So, do your best to decrease your environmental footprint, and pass that message along to as many people as possible. Be the change you want to see in the world.

www.cloakedtruth.com 

 

 

Should You Stop Eating Fish?

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

 

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:

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If It Hurts, It’s Probably Worth It

Chanel Rainforest

 

So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never overstay your welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.

— Alex Garland

It seems the older I get, the more heart-to-heart posts seem to emerge. As many of you know, I packed up my life in 2 weeks and sold most of my life to move to Puerto Rico for what I thought was my ‘dream job’ in February. I’ve had 3 very tough months here. I’ve had to move 3 times already – dealing with crazy landlords and unfair predicaments. But, the plus side is that we ended up finding a fantastic beach front home that is walking distance to work. There were a whole other multitude of issues I’ve encountered thus far, but I am trying very hard to focus on the positive aspects instead of the negative.

I’m not going to lie, I have come to many bumps in the road here where I was one click away from booking my plane ticket home. After I decided to pursue going back to school to get my teaching credential about a month ago, that’s all I can focus on. I felt like there is nothing keeping me here any longer, so why stay? All my friends, family, continuous fun concerts/events/activities, boyfriend (see below), and future were in California. Why am I still here?

Well, I am no longer in a relationship. Throughout my life, I’ve become accustomed in a sense to long distance relationships. No, it’s not easy or my favorite thing to do, but if both parties want to make it work, they will do whatever it takes to do so. At this point in time, Adam and I decided it would be best to just be friends. I’ve come to understand that it was the best decision for us both considering all the factors. Life is too short. My heart is very full of love and gives unconditionally – it deserves the same.

The quote at the beginning of the post resonates with all my experiences here in Puerto Rico thus far. I am keeping my mind open and sucking in every adventure-filled moment. Of course not every moment has been a good one, but it was worth it because I learned something about myself.

I definitely consider myself lucky to have been able to pack up in 2 weeks and move to an island in the Caribbean. I don’t take this opportunity for granted. I am in love with the fact that I wake up every morning and see the ocean outside my bedroom window. My job can be mentally and physically exhausting at times, but when it’s rewarding, all I can do is smile from ear to ear. Each time that I snorkel and see an octopus (favorite creature!!) – I keep reminding myself that I am getting paid to do this – and yeah, things COULD be worse 😛

I jumped into this life change without a safety rope. I moved to a country where I didn’t know a soul – I don’t speak the native language – I can’t eat 95% of what is on the menu at most places – I don’t have a car – and I took half a paycheck cut to be here. But, HERE I AM. I’m healthy – I am getting to a happier place each and every day – and I’m starting to sink into the reality that I am on a beautiful island that has so much to offer if I just keep an open mind. No doubt it took awhile to reach this point, but there’s no reason in being negative when life is meant to be lived to the fullest.

I am expecting multiple friends and family to visit before I move back to California in January. It will make me so happy to share my experiences with people I love and who know, respect, and understand my passions in life 🙂 If you are keen to take a quick vacation to a tropical island – let me know!

 

Look Outside… The Lines

Credit: Chanel Hason

Credit: Chanel Hason | Sabah, Malaysia

Photography takes me to a special place. It is an art. Your photographs define, in a lot of ways, how you perceive the world around you. I enjoy capturing images of objects that most people would simply dismiss. Take for example the image above of a dent in the side of a palm tree. It may not be traditionally seen as ‘beautiful’ to many people, but this to me was something I couldn’t pass up photographing. I enjoy the textures of nature – they are so lush, incredible, unique, and never the same. So my mission for you today is to find beauty in the world around you – open your senses to the world and it will surprise you 🙂 

“When nature suffers because it is destroyed by human activities, the notion of beauty is really losing its meaning, because nothing is more aesthetic than the natural beauty.” 
― Marieta Maglas

Photography + Science = Chanel | 2013 Summary

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for my blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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

What Cards Were You Dealt?

(creedofnoah.blogspot.com)

(creedofnoah.blogspot.com)

“I can’t say that there’s anything that I can’t do,

I don’t know that there’s a whole lot in life period that I can’t do,

just things that I haven’t done yet.”

-Richie Parker

We are all dealt a different set of cards in life. It’s how you play the cards – no matter the suit or class – that shows your true talent.

Life is a series of unknown events. You can try to plan out your life, but that’s where you’ll always end up in disappointment. Trying to predict the future is a poor excuse for not living in the present.

To be honest, I couldn’t tell you where I’ll be a year from now. And as scary as that sounds, it’s also exhilarating and thrilling. I could be still living here in Pasadena, or I could be living on a tropical island running a nature program. Only time will tell…The beauty of life is that WE DON’T KNOW what will happen next (no matter how hard we try to control it).

You can’t allow people to influence you to live a life that THEY WANT you to have. You can’t allow people to tell you that NO, you will never be able to do that. Your life is in your hands, so make some magic happen! The magic tends to happen when someone tells you that you can’t/will never be able to do something, then you prove them completely and utterly WRONG.

What sparked today’s post is the inspirational video below. As you will see, Richie was dealt what many would call a bad set of cards in life, but the way he played them, is something to be admired.