Report #3: A Chain Gang in Belize

by Colin Drake

Colin Drake and Barbara Berg Conduct a Survey

Colin Drake and Barbara Berg Conduct a Survey. Photo by Kiera Ryon.

A little over a week ago 18 conservation-minded divers made it to Belize. The past two articles on this site lay out what we did and what our goals were.

My name is Colin Drake. I graduated from college in Wisconsin a year ago, studying Biology & Natural Resources. Our team leader, Ed Sobey, invited me onto this expedition. I was one of the younger team members, and what a trip it was for me. I have done my fair share of traveling, but this adventure was a first as it had purpose and goals behind it. One of these goals was to find out how many of the corals were bleached versus healthy (or unhealthy but from natural causes). Monterey local, Barbara Berg, and myself teamed up to form the infamous scientific diving gang we joked and referred to as the chain gang. We would lay down a 15 ft. long chain, divided into segments, on a coral bed and take data on the condition of the reef. We would look at roughly 5 sites a dive. Charles Carmona and Debra Venhaus joined onto the chain gang in later dives and continued our data collection on the corals. The data may be added to existing studies on the Turneffe Atoll.

As a diver and a young scientist, this expedition was a huge mental step forward for myself. To work and travel with these experienced divers and scientists was a great learning experience. We shared knowledge on marine science and filming, but to me the real lessons I took home were from my fellow explorers. To listen to their stories about how they have lived out their professional and adventurous lives was fascinating and very reassuring. I now feel more confident and driven to continue exploring in the name of science.