Every decision I’ve made since rediscovering my love for the ocean has shaped my life in such a profound way, but my decision to move back to Guam is the one that started it all. My decision to agree to an interview with Julie and MCC’s ambassador is where my relationship with the organization began. My decision to fully commit to the FISSH Project has shaped my life in a way that only being surrounded by these like-minded individuals could. Further participating in MCC’s marine ecology camp gave me an opportunity to educate and inform young minds. Through this organization, I have gained lifelong mentors and friends. I’ve found a group of people who understand and appreciate the beauty of the ocean, and at the same time want nothing but the best for it.
Researching for the FISSH Project is the first of its kind for me. We started with in-water assessments to test everyone’s swimming abilities in a pool and in the ocean. Then we tried our hand at counting fish within a circumference (it’s a lot harder than you may think). With practice, of course, it became easier.
The FISSH Team was split into three groups and we were sent to our first site. Here, we tested our instincts to tell us when we should or shouldn’t do a survey depending on the wave conditions and tides. We started the bulk of surveys in November through January, which are the months when the ocean is most unpredictable. Waves could look small and manageable from afar, but after making the swim out, they could have doubled in size. Each team’s group leader would make the call, but what I really appreciate about MCC is that they emphasize that you never have to do anything that you’re not comfortable with.
Being a member of the FISSH Team feels like a gift I didn’t exactly ask for, but at the same time, could not be more thankful for. Our team is out of the ordinary for many reasons, but one is that we are a small community of women (and Vince) who want to pursue careers in STEM. Initially, I joined this organization with the purpose of doing outreach events here and there and the occasional survey for research, but this project has provided me with incomparable experiences and relationships. I am discovering new technology, being exposed to marine biologists with oodles of wisdom up their sleeves, and conducting research that will benefit Guam’s marine ecosystems. Not much makes me happier than serving my island.