programs blog

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  • October 21, 2021 11:37 AM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)


    As a teen, Rob started studying marine life in 1967 and did his first scuba dive in 1969 while living in Hong Kong. Graduated from U. Hawaii with a BA in zoology in 1975. Rob also surveyed Oahu fish populations, collected fish for ciguatera research at Johnston and Enewetak Atolls as an assistant to John E. Randall.

    Moved to Guam in 1977 to pursue graduate studies at U. Guam Marine Lab. Divided time between studies, u/w photography, and employment; earned MS in Biology in 1984. In 1981, founded Coral Graphics and from 1982 to 1995 worked as a fisheries biologist for government of Guam. From 1993 to 2000, served as a consultant with Sumeria for Ocean Life CD-roms.

    Retired in 1995 to pursue photography, writing, research, and consulting. In 2002, moved to s. Florida. Since 2006 has been voluntarily serving with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN aka World Conservation Union, Bern, Switzerland) as a member of the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA) specialist group of the Species Survival Commission for coral reef fishes. Aug-Nov 2011, conducted fish surveys on Guam for CSA International. Aug 2013, surveyed fishes in Palau marine lakes; Sep-Oct 2016, visiting Professor, Univ. of Montpellier, France for initial work on Atlas and database of coral reef fish distributions. Participated in New Caledonia deep reef and seamount surveys (2019-2023 study), but was locked out after initial trip due to covid restrictions. Has written or collaborated on numerous scientific papers and technical reports on the Micronesian and Red Sea ichthyofaunas, and authored or co-authored several books including Micronesian Reef Fishes (1989-1999), Coral Reef Fishes (with E. Lieske; 1993), Coral Reef Guide Red Sea (with E. Lieske; 2004), Dangerous Marine Animals (with M. Bergbauer and M. Kirschner) and three books on Florida shells (with E. Petuch and/or D. Berschauer). Maintains comprehensive spreadsheets of Indo-Pacific and W. Atlantic fish distributions.

    Rob is currently dividing time between continued faunal studies of Indo-Pacific fishes and books (with co-authors), specifically a Caribbean field guide, and new edition of Micronesian Reef Fishes and continues volunteer work with the IUCN and related consulting work.

    Ambon, the southern gateway to the Maluku Islands has an often brutal history almost as fascinating as the region’s fauna and flora. Our stay there was not originally on our itinerary which was to get to the Damai II for a fabulous 12 day journey that would take us through the tiny volcanic islands of the Banda Sea, the eastern end of the Maluku Islands and on to Misool and West Papua. Once I found out our flights had been rerouted via Ambon, I contacted the newly opened Spice Island Divers to arrange a short stay. Conveniently located less than 10 minutes from the airport, the resort sits on the northwestern shore of Ambon Bay, a 3,000 ft deep bay between two mountain ranges. It is not only a fabulous muck dive site but also dotted with species-rich coral reefs and is an ideal site for blackwater diving, pioneered there by USA’s own Linda Ianniello and Bob Weybrecht. Although we managed only 10 dives in 4 days, we found a treasure trove of critters new to us. Our last day included a special tour of the island with a visit to historical Fort Amsterdam. Of more recent historical interest is the wreck of the Aquila, a Panamanian merchant ship sunk in 1958 by a covert CIA operation with huge cold war implications.

    The morning after our tour we flew to Saumlaki, Tanimbar to board the Damai Dua, our base for the next 12 days. Running at night, diving by day, we visited small islands from three distinct arcs, each with its own distinctive geology and reef development as we crossed the Banda Sea. The Forgotten Islands of Dawera and Dai rise abruptly from deep mountain ranges and are capped with ancient uplifted reefs and presently surrounded by fringing reefs with sheer walls and steep slopes. We then moved on to the volcanically active islands of Nil Desperado, Serua, Manuk and Banda Neira, the only inhabited island cluster. Some of these uninhabited islands are home to huge populations of the highly venomous but completely docile Black banded sea krait (Laticauda semifasciata). These recently emerged islands have volcanic boulder slopes variably coated with corals and other marine life. Sea kraits may be found from the surface to the bottom where they are either sleeping or hunting, often accomapnied by predatory fishes, always ready to snap up prey escaping the snakes. Banda Neira, the home of nutmeg and mace has a fascinating history more brutal than Ambon’s that is well-documented in a wonderful local museum.

    Our next stop, Koon, is a coral atoll at the eastern tip of the long island of Ceram. Its reefs are more reminescent of those of Wakatobe or Micronesia, with coral slopes bisected by chutes of white coral sand.  After an over night transit across the last deep water gap, we arrived at Misool, the southernmost and largest of the Raja Ampat Islands, all on the relatively shallow West Papuan shelf. These islands are the uplifted remnants of ancient coral reefs, much like the rock islands of Palau. Most are surrounded by narrow fringing reefs and shallow shelves bordered by steep coral walls and slopes that end on a sandy sponge and coral shelf at depths of below 100 ft to about 200 ft. As if the coral reef fauna isn’t diverse enough, by being connected to the continental shelves of New Guinea and Australia, the shelf is a bridge to their unique faunas. The most iconic fo these among fishes are the Epaulete and Carpet sharks, always high on my list of photographic subjects. These coastal shelf waters are a bit more turbid than the deep open sea over abyssal depths but make up for it by hosting the richest reef fauna in the world. The added nutrients nourish vast shoals of slivery baitfish and juvenile reef fishes, which attract feeding mantas that may suddenly appear out of the blue. Our trip ended after a 2-day transit punctuated by a final dive at the Fam Islands. The morning we disembarked I counted 21 live-aboards anchored within sight, in the bay at Sorong.  Another shock was the large modern steel and glass terminal complete with jetways and several waiting aircraft, a far cry from the open shack and unfenced runway of 2004, when over the course of 2 weeks,
    only one live-aboard was encountered.

  • September 20, 2021 2:54 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    Alexa Elliott is the creator of Changing Seas, a marine science series produced at South Florida PBS in Miami, Florida.  Now in production of its 14th Season, Changing Seas episode topics have ranged from the plight of Peru’s penguins to American Samoa’s resilient coral reefs. The series has aired on 95 percent of PBS stations and in more than 39 countries.

    Alexa has worked in public broadcasting since 1996, both in public radio as well as television production. She has produced television programs of various genres, but nature, science and environmental programming have always been her favorite. Alexa has received numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious Communication Award presented by the National Academy of Sciences, eleven Emmy Awards, and others.
    In addition to her day job, Alexa is on the board of the Ocean Media Institute, a creative hub that works with various stakeholders to openly create and distribute media that promotes public understanding of ocean science and conservation. She has two degrees in Broadcast Journalism – a BA from Morehead State University and a MA from the University of Florida. 

  • August 19, 2021 1:40 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    Black Water Diving in Southeast Florida

    Linda Ianniello has been diving and doing underwater photography for over 30 years. For the past six years Linda has been focusing on black water dives, up to  four times a week locally. A black water dive consists of going six to seven miles off the coast and performing a drift dive in the edge of the Gulf Stream, at night. The bottom is approximately 700 feet deep, but we generally stay in the top 40 feet. It is fascinating to find and photograph the pelagic animals  who spend their whole lives in this environment, the various larvae that spend the early part of their lives here, and the deep water animals that migrate vertically at night to feed.

    Linda will be talking about the mechanics of a black water dive and the variety of creatures that can be found on these dives. Also, how she is using her images for several “citizen science” projects. Linda along with Susan Mears have co-authored and published a book on the subject of the talk titled  
    “BLACKWATER Creatures – A Guide to Southeast Florida Blackwater Creatures."

  • July 21, 2021 12:26 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    Greetings Fellow Under Sea Adventurers!

    Many of you know me, but for new members I would like to introduce myself.

    My name is Clare Anthon. I joined the USA Dive Club in May 2004 and always had the desire to dive, but raising my family came first. After my girls were grown, it was time to get certified. As an active club member, I’ve held positions as USA’s Co-VP of Social, Social Butterfly and for the past 12 years Hospitality Coordinator.

    Overseas diving has been a yearly activity for me. My very first trip in 2005, was aboard the Cayman Aggressor IV. In 2009, I was trip leader for 24 divers on a wonderful adventure to Curacao. The next trip as trip leader was in 2012 with Explorer Ventures Liveaboard to the Turks & Caicos. Curacao was so beautiful the club decided to repeat the trip in 2013, and I volunteered to be trip leader. Along came 2017 and once again, I was trip leader for 18 divers to gorgeous Cozumel. My most recent trip lead was in 2018 with a cozy group of 8 to Boni Bonaire.

    Looking forward to being your Cayman Aggressor V 2022 trip leader. Please join me!

    Sunny regards,
    Clare Anthon

  • May 24, 2021 2:12 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    June 2021 Program

    Under Sea Adventurers Overseas Diving - Nils Jacobsen

    For most of you a detailed introduction of Nils should not be required – anyway, if you are a relatively new member – or you are an older member – that might have missed some of the earlier details – here is a “short” recap:

    Nils had a dormant subconscious desire for diving – just like many other kids at that time having watched years of Jacques Cousteau on black and white TV in Europe. Nils was on a corporate work trip – a 9 ½ weeks world tour in 1992 – doing worldwide software training – back in the heights of the industrial production and design outsourcing. Key stops: S Florida: where HR sent him to Pennekamp Park to snorkel; Singapore: Penang Malaysia, where HR invited him to join a trip to a marine sanctuary – Pulau Payar (in those days – you needed a permit from Malaysia Ministry of Interior to be allowed to go there).  The local company went there to certify scuba divers that had worked 6 months towards their certification. Nils snorkeled in Azure blue water close to 3 feet potato cods and soft coral – and he was sold - committed to get a scuba certification. (Only one small negative – he slept on the beach – with no formal camping gear – and the hotel towels were 4-6” short of protecting his feet from mosquitos); He took a PADI class in Sept 1992 (he was the only one – changing from shirt and tie – to speedos… before jumping in the pool – a professional travel agent – nailed it – “you are either gay or European” [#2=TRUE]; back in 1993 Denmark he pursued a CMAS certification – (incomplete due to excessive travel in 1993).

    During 1993 Nils got to dive Indonesia, Malaysia, Red Sea, Bahamas and S Florida. Nils got his second PADI certification – Advanced - in Johnson State Park in Hollywood. Nils got an offer to move to US late in 1993 on a corporate relocation – the choices were Arizona :-(, Chicago :-( or S Florida -:) – and the rest is history.

    Nils met USA dive club in the spring of 1994 during a reef clean-up dive on “Lady Go Diver” (the first boat) - joined USA dive club for lunch – and was invited to a club meeting. Nils joined the club later in 1994 – was Newsletter editor for a few years (PageMaker on a PC – in slow motion – real stamps – and delivered by US Postal Service) before becoming VP of overseas diving late 2002 – and his first assignment was to go to DEMA in Miami, Nov 2002 and book the Ocean Rover for the Thailand trip.

     More Recently

    On land Nils is always easy to find/easy to follow – as he is “always under the hat” – so he is never lost!

    In non-diving settings – he shows a wide range of formality levels and dress-codes:


    Underwater Nils is most often dressed Ninja-black, looks like he is carrying a small dive shop and most of the time hidden behind a large camera:

    The presentation will cover pictures from our past 3 Fiji trips:

    • 2008:
      • Nai’a
      • Kadavu
    • 2015:
      • Aggressor
      • Waidroka
    • 2020:
      • Nai’a –only; truncated by Covid-19 evacuation

    The rescheduled trip to Volivoli: Now: May 10-17, 2022 - We still have spots available.

  • April 14, 2021 7:54 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    The Turtle Hospital

    Hello My name is Christine Watt.

    My love of turtles began at the early age of 14 in NY, when I found painted turtles in my back yard.

    In my twenties, I moved to Florida where I saw an advertisement in the local paper, ‘make a reservation to watch a female loggerhead nest at night!’ Interested, I called to reserve a spot; but the guy in the office was a newbie, it was his first day working and so he serendipitously registered me for a turtle nesting educational guide training by mistake! Ever since that pivotal moment, I’ve served as an active member of the Sea turtle Preservation Society as a permitted guide for night time turtle nesting watch and was on the stranding team. That was for almost 16 years, and since then I’ve continued to work in the Sea Turtle world as an educator, a permitted guide, and turtle nest surveyor.

    While attending a Sea Turtle Symposium in 2002 I met Richie Moratti, the founder of The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, FL one of the largest and first Sea Turtle Hospitals in the world. I would also see him regularly at FWC permit holders meeting. 7 seven years ago, I asked him if I could volunteer at the Turtle Hospital during the summers as I was working in a school and had summers free. Richie said “we couldn’t have volunteers at this time, but we are looking for someone to work in our educational department.”

    The rest is history, I left the school systems after 14 years to become an educator here at The Turtle Hospital and I’ve never looked back.

    I currently hold a nesting position here in the Keys as a nesting Surveyor in Marathon. 2021 Nesting season will be my 6th year.

  • March 12, 2021 9:33 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    Marine Conservation Costa Rica

    Katharine Evans is one of the founders of Marine Conservation Costa Rica, a non-profit located on the cental Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Katharine is the lead biologist on MCCR's coral restoration project and also the intern and education co-ordinator.

    Katharine is originally from the UK, but has been living in Central America for almost 20 years, she has been diving for over 20 years and is an active dive instructor. Katharine will share about Marine Conservation Costa Rica's work.

  • February 12, 2021 8:58 PM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    Jewels on the Reef: Florida's Hawksbill Turtles

    Dr. Larry Wood has been working with sea turtles in Florida for over 25 years.  His lifelong interest in biology, particularly reptiles, brought him to Juno Beach Florida, where he undertook sea turtle nesting beach surveys, helped develop a sea turtle rehabilitation facility, and created numerous public awareness and marine education programs.  In 2004, he established the Comprehensive Florida Hawksbill Research and Conservation Program, which is the first and only long-term study of hawksbill turtles in Florida.  Dr. Wood has contributed to sea turtle conservation in many ways in Florida and elsewhere through his publications, contributions to symposia, and student/volunteer mentorships.  He is currently pursuing his research and public education interests with the National Save The Sea Turtle Foundation located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

  • January 19, 2021 11:38 AM | Rick Dayan (Administrator)

    Coral Restoration Foundation

    By Jeremy Goodsnyder

    Jeremy Goodsnyder is a Coral Restoration and Reef Conservation Lead Intern at the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF). He has been working for the CRF since September, 2020 and loves every second of the time has spent above and below the surface during his time at CRF. Jeremy graduated from Brandeis University in May, 2020 with honors, majoring in Environmental Studies as well as Anthropology. He has been scuba diving since he was 12 years old and has been fortunate enough to dive all over the world from the Florida Keys, to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Red Sea, the Caribbean, and even balmy Lake Michigan! When it came to working for CRF, Jeremy knew he had to give back to the coral reefs, the one thing that has given him so much joy in his life, he decided to join CRF to fulfill that dream so that future generations can enjoy what he has been fortunate enough to see in life so far was an obvious choice. Jeremy has dabbled here and there in regards to dive experience from recreational, to commercial diving, and even underwater archaeology as well. With experience working at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, as well as diving in the states as well as abroad, his path naturally led to his dream position here with the Coral Restoration Foundation. He is extremely excited to share his knowledge, experiences, and time with the Under Sea Adventurers Dive Club, this February 4th!

  • December 28, 2020 9:35 PM | Chris Hardham (Administrator)

    An overview of the Wild Dolphin Project, who we are and what we do.

    By Cassie Rusche

    Bio: Cassie Rusche received her B.S. (2013) in biology from Northern Kentucky University and her M.S. (2016) in biological sciences from Florida Atlantic University. Cassie is originally from Cincinnati, OH where she grew up loving animals of all kinds. She has always been interested in their behavior and why they do what they do. During her undergrad she was involved in undergraduate research examining parental care behavior in the Carolina Chickadee, a small songbird. After being involved in this research, Cassie knew she wanted to pursue her graduate degree, and so she found Dr. Denise Herzing and the Wild Dolphin Project. She was working on her master’s thesis, investigating spotted dolphin aggressive behavior, and helping out on the boat from 2014-2016. She moved back to Cincinnati, OH briefly but decided she missed the dolphins, Florida’s beaches, and the warmer weather! Cassie is now back working with us as our Research Assistant and will be out in the field on the boat a lot during the summer field season!

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