Daniel Hernandez

2009 JISAO/NCAS Summer Research Internship

Seven weeks with the NOAA Diving Center at Sand Point

Daniel HernandezAs a student of Oceanography and Marine Ecosystems at Humboldt State University I have experience with oceanographic research in our laboratories and onboard our 90 foot research vessel. I am also a Scientific Dive minor and have collected data by conducting sub-tidal surveys along California's rocky reef habitat under the direction of Diving Safety Officer Richard Alvarez. Being a Certified California Reef Check Diver, I am familiar with AAUS survey protocol and am skilled in the identification of Northwest invertebrates, fish and algal species.

My interest in climate fluctuation and its implications on marine ecosystems brought me to JISAO in Seattle, WA, where I was selected to be one of four summer interns in 2009. Because of my unique skills as a scientific SCUBA diver I was assigned to work at the NOAA Diving Center at Sand Point.

Since it is the role of the NOAA Diving Program to ensure that all diving activities conducted by NOAA are performed in a safe and efficient manner, education and training was a large component of my internship. For the first two weeks I took part in various training modules for NOAA working divers and dive masters. During in-water training exercises I assisted instructors top-side while observing each dive operation.

I soon had the opportunity to serve as a scientific diver under a reciprocity agreement with my home institution. Of the multiple dives we executed, my most memorable was with a NOAA Fisheries community outreach event. On the morning of June 10th 2009, we made our way to Dash Point State Park where a group of children met us for an afternoon of scientific exposure. As an experienced interpreter in marine ecology, I helped lead the afternoon's events as both a diver and scientist. After surfacing from the sound with various fish and invertebrate species, we gave the K-2 grade students the opportunity to feel, hold and explore the biodiversity of the sound. Because I owe Daniel with student holding crabmy success as an undergraduate to a similar outreach experience, serving as a volunteer in the Dash Point Park community outreach experience was symbolic in many ways.

The remainder of my time at the NOAA Diving Center was spent working with its Standardized Equipment Program (SEP). My duties in the SEP office were to assist in the maintenance and dissemination of dive equipment to NOAA diving units throughout the United States.

Before arriving at NOAA's Diving Center I was unfamiliar with NOAA protocol for conducting its underwater research or with the amount of training required to execute underwater research as a NOAA diver. Having spent the summer among NOAA scientists and the Diving Center staff, I walked away feeling empowered to continue fusing my undergraduate research with my SCUBA diving skill set.

I would like to thank JISAO and the NOAA Diving Program for this unique and enriching experience.