I don’t have any scientific publications to my credit, but I did co-author a picture book about sharks when I was six years old. I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and its inhabitants, even when my academic interests diverged into American literature and creative writing. I grew up a casual ecologist – capable of identifying all the birds in my backyard, but with little interest in “real” science.
That changed dramatically in 2007, when on a whim I attended the School for Field Studies, a rainforest research program in Queensland, Australia. SFS kindled my love for formal ecology, and convinced me that my future lay in conservation. Since then, I’ve pursued ecological research and wildlife protection in several arenas. Most memorably, I protected sea turtles with the Bald Head Island Conservancy in North Carolina, and helped preserve and restore native cutthroat trout with Yellowstone’s Fisheries Science Program.
In 2009, I took a job in Bangkok, Thailand, as a teacher of English and Environmental Science at the middle school level. During my school’s spring break, I learned to scuba dive at Koh Tao – and sensed, almost immediately, that my life had changed, or at least that I was going to spend a lot of money on an expensive new hobby. Several months after that seminal spring break, I left my job in Thailand and traveled around Southeast Asia, diving in several places off the Malaysian peninsula and Borneo.
In January 2011, my girlfriend/dive buddy Elise and I will move to Utila Island, Honduras, to train and work as Divemasters. In diving I have discovered a pursuit that’s spiritually fulfilling and as intellectually rigorous as I want it to be. Divers dive for different reasons – mine is that I want to know what’s down there. I’m not yet much of a reef ecologist or fish identifier, but I’m also not bad for a dilettante who in the spring of 2010 couldn’t tell a Moorish idol from a longfin bannerfish.