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 😀

When Scientists Geek Out.

Science, Thoughts

Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico, Scuba Divers, Nurse Shark

As a marine biologist, I can’t even begin to list the amount of times I gleefully screamed or screeched underwater when I saw something astounding right before my own 2 blue eyes. Some underwater face to face encounters that stand out are: having a whale shark come straight towards me in Mexico, a giant cuttlefish staring at me in Australia, and multiple manatees in Puerto Rico. Heck, I couldn’t even form a sentence when I saw a huge manatee moving underneath me!

Yes, I totally was that nerd who sat on the floor in-front of the TV a couple of years ago after the Super Bowl to watch the first footage of a live giant squid caught on camera. And of course, I shed tears of happiness because cephalopods are some of my favorite animals on the entire planet. If there is ever an opportunity for me to go into a submersible 1000’s of feet below the surface, YOU BET I WOULD BE ON THAT SUCKER IN AN INSTANT!

So when I saw this video yesterday, I knew I would have gone just as crazy as one of those scientists operating the ROV. Can you imagine starting at a screen for HOURS and even DAYS just hoping that something interesting passing in front of your camera and lights 600m underwater? Then, BOOM! Check out what puts on quite a little show for these researchers 🙂 (Here’s the article if you want to read it as well)

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?

Meeting My Hero.

Photography, Science, Thoughts

Do you have a hero? Do you have a mentor in life? I think we all have someone we look up to and who are inspired by each and everyday. Heck, it may even be a handful number of people that you consider your mentor.

jeanmichelcousteauslide

This past weekend, I had the honor to meet one of my heroes/mentors: Jean-Michel Cousteau (JMC). Being the son of the historic ocean explorer Jacques Yves Cousteau, Jean-Michel has also made a huge name for himself in the marine conservation society. Jean-Michel founded the Ocean Futures Society, a non-profit whose mission is as follows:

The mission of Ocean Futures Society is to explore our global ocean, inspiring and educating people throughout the world to act responsibly for its protection, documenting the critical connection between humanity and nature, and celebrating the ocean’s vital importance to the survival of all life on our planet.

When I found out that JMC was going to speak at the Travel and Adventure Expo held in the Long Beach Convention Center, I knew I couldn’t miss this opportunity for the world! I even won 4 tickets to the event on the Travel and Adventure Expo’s Facebook page – I guess my contest luck is continuing through 2013  🙂

jeanmichelcousteautravelandadventureexpo

There was a rush for his autograph after his speech, and I decided to wait patiently for an hour for the crowds to die down. I wanted my meeting to be memorable, and last more than 1 minute.  And let me tell you, it definitely worth the wait.

Whilst waiting, I got to have some great conversations with JMC’s right-hand woman with his Ocean Futures Society, Holly Lohuis. She’s been working with the Ocean Futures Society for the past 15 years as the field producer/executive coordinator for JMC. She’s a marine biologist, educator, and passionate ocean conservationist. My friend Josh who was with me at the show, said that she reminded him of  what an older version of myself would be like. I take that as a huge compliment!

Some younger girls and boys approached JMC and told him that they wanted to be a marine biologist just like him. And my heart smiled when I heard Jean-Michel say, “Don’t listen to what anyone else says. Do whatever you love.” Not too long ago that little girl was me… and I have wanted to be a marine biologist since I was 5 years old. After years of Sea World Camps, marine biology field courses in Baja, and lots of hands-on volunteer experience with numerous marine organizations, I can happily say that I followed my dream. I earned honors receiving my Bachelors of Science Degree in Marine and Coastal Ecology, and I couldn’t be more happy. Now I just need to find a job that sums up my love and passion for the ocean and marine science education…let the job application process continue!

The time FINALLY arrived to come face-to-face with JMC:

meetingjeanmichelcousteau

Jean-Michel was such a pleasant, personable, funny, and passionate individual to meet first hand. I honestly thought in my head, ‘I wish he was my grandpa!’ haha. I bought his book, Explore the West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries with Jean-Michel Cousteau, for him to personally autograph. I think it MAY have been the beautiful Humboldt squid that caught eye to buy the book 😉 , and Holly even pointed out that she actually was the diver photographed on the cover ! I would definitely love to dive with Humboldt squid one day, I should actually add that to my Bucket List right now…

In 2005, the Ocean Futures Society teamed up with Ritz Carlton hotels around the globe to exclusively home JMC’s Ambassadors of the Environment program. The Ambassadors program, “provides educational, outdoor adventures to guests and the local communities of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, and The Ritz-Carlton Reserver, Dorado Beach.” I have actually been in the interview process for the a couple Ambassadors programs at the Ritz-Carltons listed previously, and when I disclosed this information to JMC, he was super impressed by my determination and dedication to be a part of his marine education program. He autographed a very kind and personal message in my book that I will cherish forever, and told me to keep in contact about the Ambassadors program.

After that, I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day 😀 Josh and I walked around the whole Expo entering in every contest possible to win dream vacations. Between the two of us, we are hoping the odds are in our favor to win at least one of the contests haha!

This whole experience just solidified to follow my love and dream of working in the field of ocean conservation/education. There’s nothing I love more than the sea and doing whatever I can to protect it for future generations. Life is too short not to do what you love for a living. It’s time for me to find my next journey in life! I’M SO READY! Cheers to your hopes and dream 🙂