To know me, you have to understand one thing- I LOVE Coral. Having the ability to spend more time staring at the polyps underwater is why I received my scuba certificate. But I also became a diver to have a short escape from the rest of the world.
The majority of my diving consists of coral restoration and scientific fieldwork. We’re talking about either being upside down in 2/3 meters of water with a clipboard in hand or spending hours underwater out-planting coral fragments back onto the reef. Doing this type of work is honestly amazing, though, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Conservation diving has got me hooked because you are using your time underwater to actively make a difference.
One of my favorite places underwater is Molasses Reef in Key Largo, Florida. I have spent many dives here hanging out with spotted eagle rays, and every time is equally as magical. With all of this time underwater, my equipment plays a vital role. One of my favorite pieces is my Aqualung X Shot Fins. They make every dive fin-tastic!
My timepiece is also essential to me. In comparison to recreational diving, conservation diving is much longer requiring the use of a dive watch or computer to stay under within your limits and receive enough surface intervals. They also help to keep track of time, record the surrounding water temperatures, and depth of various coral colonies. I’ve only ever done one conservation-related dive without a watch and it was literally the weirdest feeling ever.
The number one feature of a fantasy dive watch would be to help me find an octopus so I could geek out about it underwater. But besides your standard features, I would want a clear, easy way to see dive time at a glance. I would also love to have a built-in camera and some form of taking notes during your dive. I cannot tell you the number of times I have forgotten to charge a camera or smudge all my data on a slate and screwing myself over for the day. So, if I could simplify that user error, things would be so much easier for me.
Of all of my time underwater, I don’t think I can narrow it down to one best moment. So, I will go within general; my favorite most memorable thing is just getting people to care about our oceans. Being able to educate people on how to be more eco-conscious or how to help plan a cleanup, outreach event, etc., is fantastic. At the same time, diving is a dream come true.
Up next for me, I think, is to see what the ocean has in store.
(John Reinbott is the Assistant Coral Program Manager at Marine Conservation Costa Rica.)