In 2006, I graduated from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in marine biology. After graduating, I worked at the Experimental Fish Hatchery at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Miami. While there, I bred killifish Fundulus heteroclitus for genetic studies, helped with the care for the sea hare Aplysia californica colony and I assisted in the growing of seaweed used to feed the Aplyisa.
Currently, I am a fisheries observer contracted by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to collect data on commercial fishing vessels. Being an observer can be stressful; I live aboard fishing boats for weeks at a time, working with the crew to collect fishery dependent data. My trips on boats can range from one day to more than 30 days at sea without seeing land.
The challenge of being a fisheries observer includes but is not limited to: changing and hazardous weather, working many hours and at weird times, and exposure to dangerous marine species such as sharks, jellyfish and scorpionfish. My trips can be at any port from North Carolina all the way to Texas. I work on shrimp trawlers, grouper bottom longliners, snapper bandit boats and pelagic longliners that catch swordfish and tuna. The main objective of an observer is to report endangered species interactions with fishing gear (species such as turtles, marine mammals and sawfish). Our secondary objective is to identify and record what is caught and kept and what is thrown away. We do not police or enforce fishery regulations, although some observers would like to think that they could.
The advantage of my job means that when not on a boat, I can do whatever I want; I am not bound by a rigid work schedule. This gives me time to travel, go kayaking and read. I have many other interests like cooking, writing and drawing, but more recently I have been working with aquaponics. That is the blending of hydroponics and aquaculture. Simply put, the waste products of the fish go to feed the plants minimizing inputs and maximizing outputs to produce food. I plan on going the Haiti in July 2011 to help set up a system to provide food for the people in a small town.
My current focus is on going back to school for a Master’s Degree. I want studying the connectivity of marine species in relation to Marine Reserves. Understanding the source-sink relationship of populations can help to design and manage Marine Reserves. I feel this is important because little has been done to show the effectiveness of reserves.