I hope everyone’s summer is going well. Most of you are probably in the thick of things with summer crowds, summer field seasons, summer training, or maybe even a summer vacation.
My quiet summer filled up a bit unexpectedly and I find myself at UC Berkeley’s Gump Research Station on the island of Mo’orea, French Polynesia. This trip is a direct result of the AAUS Accreditation process and the recommendations that came out of an audit of all UC diving programs in 2021. The review called for additional on-site support for diving and boating safety at Gump, and in the near term, that means additional station visits by me and some of my UC colleagues. Summer visits to Gump are a rare occurrence for me. There is usually no room at the inn, and this year is no exception. Due to the high volume of researchers and the tail end of UCLA’s Diversity Project (The Diversity Project), I’m staying at a local hotel across the bay for the first week. I will say, it’s hard to beat a commute by kayak across a tropical lagoon.
Each morning when I arrive at the station’s waterfront to start my day I am met with a flurry of activity. There are 11 active dive plans this week and each day many of the more than 30 science divers currently at the station will make a dive or two (or more!). Additional boating operations supporting snorkeling projects make for a busy time at the station docks. The divers grab their gear, load up their experiments, and take to their boats to head for their research sites. I observe and offer assistance as necessary. I’m tasked with joining as many of the teams as possible over the course of my 12-day visit, to observe, assist, advise, and of course, confirm compliance with their dive plans and AAUS diving standards. It’s quite possibly the best part of this job, in part due to the fact that the divers here are largely returning station users, or at least diving under the guidance of other Gump veterans. They’re well trained, with a range of experience levels from fresh out of the science diver course to those with more than 30 years of science diving experience.
As much as I enjoy every trip to Gump, this one is also a bit special. The end of this week marks the end of my 25th year as DSO for UC Berkeley. I started at Cal on August 1st, 1997. I can think of no better place to celebrate this milestone than here amongst some of my friends and colleagues. I’ve had some amazing experiences here and worked with many remarkable people. I’m grateful for the abundance of opportunities this job has provided me. With that in mind I’d like to take one quick moment to thank a few of the people that started me on this spectacular journey; Dave Nagle, my DSO and mentor at UC Santa Cruz, who made me an instructor, a science diver, and who made me decide that a career in diving safety was what I wanted, Nicole Crane, in her role as DSO for Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station staffed my NAUI ITC, and conducted my 100’ science diver checkout dive, Dennis Divins at UC Santa Barbara welcomed me into the UCSB community, and Henry Fastenau at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab for his support and guidance as he made sure I started off on the right track at Cal. In their own way they each inspired me and then gave me space to try new things and learn new skills. To this day I’m thankful for their patience and friendship, and the doors that they opened for me.
Thanks for letting me reminisce. I promise to get back to AAUS business next month. Fall is bearing down on us, with lots of opportunities on the horizon.
University of California