Highlights On This Page: Dan's Biography, Photos, and Essay
Hometown: Wayland, New York
SCA Work/Site Location: Biscayne National Park
Dream job: That really is a tough question; I am a huge advocate of field experience and intrigued by the interconnectedness of all ecosystems. So, I’d imagine anything involving outdoor expeditions would make me happy.
Favorite book: Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey but I would have to say my favorite author is Tom Robbins.
Favorite movie: Because of nostalgia, it has to be Ghostbusters.
Favorite park: Another very difficult question; The mountains, rivers and waterfalls of Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Yosemite are indeed humbling and intense, but it has been a totally different world here at Biscayne. The relief is located under the sea and diving with vibrant fish, agile sea turtles, graceful rays and massive coral heads are tough to match.
Most memorable SCA moment: There would be two moments that the SCA program has led me into. The first would be standing on the top of a 14,000 foot mountain just after sunrise, staring over the Sierra-Nevada mountain range and the second would be looking up between a 300 foot wreck during a 100+ foot dive to see an armada of refrigerator size goliath groupers hovering in the crystal-clear blue waters of the Florida Straight.
Background: I was born and raised in beautiful, seasonal western New York. I have always been interested in adventure and have found my way into quite a few blood-pumping explorations. Due to a passion for the outdoors, my career has been composed of ways in which to protect it. Be it scientific research or public outreach, I have found the necessity of Mother Nature’s cyclic formations. My lifestyle is pretty laid-back, but hard-work is what brings personal and universal rewards, as well as celebration. And where would we be as a people today, if we did not know how to have a little fun.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself; we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” – John Muir
I’m honored to be an SCA Intern at Key Biscayne National Park working as an Ocean, Reef, and Science Program Assistant. What we are doing here matters, because all the reefs in the world are under constant threat. For our nursery program, we cultivate boulder corals with the intent to produce a large stock of natural corals to insure future coral restoration. Also, we conduct reef surveys, in which we search the Park’s patch reefs for the endangered branching corals Acropora cervicornis (staghorn coral) and Acropora palmate (elkhorn coral). With this documentation we can see where the endangered coral is located in the Park and get a baseline for future Acroporid research. An underlying idea behind the nursery program is to promote education among local peoples with the hope that this will lead to increased stewardship toward the natural environment.
Most other coral restoration projects focus on trying to secure dislodged or damaged corals onto the reef, or by transplanting pieces of coral from natural undamaged neighboring reefs. Biscayne’s nursery is innovative in the sense that, small coral fragments that would otherwise die off due to sedimentation are seeded in the nurseries until they are large and healthy enough to be reintroduced on the natural reef.
If the nursery is maintained and coral stocks can be produced in abundance, than damaged or dying reefs may be restored from natural coral fragments. Also, because the nursery program contains a diversity of coral species, original reef structure will be supported.
Due to having an outstanding and knowledgeable mentor, Richard Curry, I have gained a myriad of skills and familiarity pertaining to reef dynamics. In assisting with the coordination of the Coral Nursery Club, I have had the privilege of educating a number of peoples about the importance of the reef ecosystem and our natural world as a whole. Also the adventures I have had here in South Florida have been amazing.
What’s next? As of right now, I cannot say. Continued work in Science.
Photo credits: Thomas Strom, Dan Cossett
Inspired? Support SCA students in the field.
Grand Canyon National Park
Kisatchie Nat'l Forest
Biscayne National Park
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