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Marine Debris Assessment Expedition

July 20-25, 2009
aboard the R/V Manta

Click on a name below to learn more about that scientist.

Emma Hickerson - FGBNMS, Principle Investigator, Safety Diver
Jennifer DeBose - FGBNMS, Co-Principle Investigator, Safety Diver
G.P. Schmahl - FGBNMS Superintendent, Safety Diver
Marissa Nuttall - FGBNMS, Research Assistant, Safety Diver
Ryan Eckert - FGBNMS, Research Assistant
Doug Kesling - NURC, Mission Coordinator, Diving Safety Officer, Tech Diver
Scott Fowler - NURC, Dive Master, Tech Diver
Greg McFall - GRNMS Research Coordinator, Line Office Diving Officer, Tech Diver
Russ Green - TBNMS, Maritime Heritage Coordinator, Tech Diver
Mauritius Bell - Georgia Aquarium, AAUS Tech Diver
Jeff Reid - Georgia Aquarium, AAUS Tech Diver

For a general overview of this expedition, please visit the Marine Debris Assessment Expedition 2009 page.

To learn more about the daily activities of the expedition, please visit the Daily Blogs page.


Photo of Mauritius BellMauritius Valente Bell
AAUS Technical Diver
Georgia Aquarium

Mauritius is the Assistant Diving Safety Officer at the Georgia Aquarium.  His duties there include training of both staff and volunteer divers and serving on the aquarium’s Diving Control Board.  He has been actively diving since 1997 in various capacities including instruction and supervision of scientific, commercial, and recreational diving operations.   He teaches technical and cave diving for the National Association of Underwater Instructors and freediving for Performance Freediving International.  He is a licensed Paramedic and Diving Medical Technician.  He has an extensive water safety background working as a YMCA aquatic director and an American Red Cross aquatic examiner.  

Jennifer DeBose
Jennifer DeBoseCo-Principle Investigator/Safety Diver
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS)

Dr. Jennifer DeBose is the Research Specialist for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Her current interests are focused on the long-term monitoring of the biota of Stetson Bank, marine debris assessment and removal, research into the need for an experimental closure within the FGBNMS, utilizing GIS for seafloor and habitat mapping, as well as a variety of other research areas within the sanctuary. She received her doctorate from the University of California–Davis, studying the sensory ecology underlying aggregation behavior of marine fishes and cephalopods.

Ryan Eckert
Research Assistant
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS)




Photo of Scott FowlerD. Scott Fowler
Dive Master/Technical Diver
National Underwater Research Center (NURC)

Scott is a Dive Specialist for the Advanced Diving Technology Program located at University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW).  He has an extensive dive background and is an Instructor Trainer for TDI, SDI, & ERDI, as well as holding instructor credentials from several other agencies including PADI and the British Sub-Aqua Club.  Scott is also a DMT and is a licensed USCG captain with a 100-ton rating.  He holds degrees in History and Marine Science.  Scott currently lives in Key Largo, Florida where, when not training tech divers and supporting technical dive missions for science, he owns and operates a dive charter & instruction business.  Scott has participated in many NOAA/NURC technical dive missions and hopes to help make this one a success as well.

Photo of Russ GreenRuss Green
Maritime Heritage Coordinator/Technical Diver
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS)

Russ is the deputy superintendent at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan. A former underwater archaeologist for the state of Wisconsin, Russ obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Rhode Island and a graduate degree in nautical archaeology from East Carolina University. He has worked on maritime archeology projects along much of the east coast, the Great Lakes, Bermuda and Micronesia. Trained in mixed gas and rebreather diving, Russ has led technical diving expeditions in the Great Lakes and worked on the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor off North Carolina and a WW II B-29 airplane in Lake Mead, Nevada. He recently led the archeological documentation of a newly discovered, intact schooner resting in 185 feet of water in Lake Huron.

Photo of Emma HickersonEmma Hickerson
Principle Investigator/Safety Diver
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS)

Emma Hickerson has held the position of Research Coordinator at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary since 1997. She has focused her research efforts in the Gulf of Mexico since 1994, and has led and participated in close to 100 cruises in this region. These cruises included submersible, ROV and SCUBA operations. Emma conducted her Master's thesis project at the sanctuary where she studied the movements of loggerhead sea turtles using radio and satellite telemetry technology. Her sanctuary research has focused on the collection of high resolution multibeam bathymetry, and habitat characterization both within and in the vicinity of FGBNMS. Emma's interests and strengths include marine biology and ecology, underwater photography and videography, underwater exploration and technology, science interpretation through multimedia production and SCUBA diving. (Photo by Joyce & Frank Burek)

Photo of Doug KeslingDoug Kesling
Mission Coorindator/Diving Safety Officer/Technical Diver
National Undersea Research Center (NURC)

Doug is the Manager of the Advanced Diving Technology Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) and will integrate into NOAA's New Cooperative Institute (CI) for Marine Science there.  The CI will utilize submersibles, ROV's, AUV's, enriched air nitrox and trimix open-circuit diving technology and rebreathers in support of NOAA's marine research directives.  He holds a B.S. in Nursing from Wright State University and a Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from UNCW.  Doug first came to UNCW in 1990 to help continue the Aquarius Undersea Research Laboratory diving program, using a seafloor saturation diving habitat system.  Aquarius is sometimes referred to as America's "inner space station".  He has firsthand experience living and working underwater, and is a senior habitat technician emeritus having lead three saturation diving missions in Aquarius in St. Croix, U.S.V.I., and twice while based in Key Largo, Florida.  His current duties include the oversight of diving safety and technical diving training programs for visiting scientists.  He participates on at-sea research mission's annually as a diving supervisor and served as the Expedition Diving Safety Officer for the USS Monitor Expedition from 2000 to 2003.  While participating on the USS Monitor Expedition in 1998, the Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere awarded UNCW's National Undersea Research Center (NURC/UNCW; 1982-2009) the prestigious Environmental Hero Award from NOAA.  He currently serves as a member of the NOAA Diving Program Technical Advisory Panel.

Photo of Greg McFallGreg McFall
NOS Diving Officer/Technical Diver
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS)

Greg is the Line Office Diving Officer (LODO) for the National Ocean Service (NOS) and Research Coordinator for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.  Greg has been diving since the age of thirteen and has both Navy and commercial diving experience. He has been a tech diver for the past three years and participated in five technical diving expeditions.  Greg has a bachelor's degree in Biology from West Virginia University and received his Masters of Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). Prior to working with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Greg worked as Associate Science Director for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's National Undersea Research Center (NURC) and as the Laboratory Manager with UNCW's Chemical Ecology Laboratory.

Photo of Marissa NuttallMarissa Nuttall
Research Assistant/Safety Diver
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS)

Marissa joined the FGBNMS team in 2008 as a research assistant while still a an undergraduate student at Texas A&M University Galveston (TAMUG). She has worked extensively at analyzing Stetson monitoring photos from the past 15 years to identify trends and changes at the bank over time. She has also identified and catalogued numerous species captured on video during various ROV cruises around the sanctuary. Marissa is currently a graduate student at TAMUG and an AAUS diver.

Photo of Jeff ReidJeff Reid
AAUS Technical Diver
Georgia Aquarium

Jeff Reid is the Dive Safety Officer (DSO) at the Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium. As the DSO/Manager of Dive Safety Programs, Jeff oversees the Dive Program, which includes almost 200 divers. Jeff is in charge of dive training and safety, field diving and gear maintenance. He also oversees the Dive Immersion Program, which allows the public to enjoy diving with and learning about the various species in the aquarium, including whale sharks and manta rays. In 2001 Jeff graduated from Diver’s Institute of Technology in Seattle Washington and then moved to Dutch Harbor Alaska where he worked as a commercial diver for a marine salvage company before working at the aquarium.

Photo of G.P. SchmahlG.P. Schmahl
Sanctuary Superintendents/Safety Diver
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

G.P. Schmahl has been the manager of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary since March 1999. Prior to that he served for eight years as the Lower Keys Regional Manager of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key West, Florida. As sanctuary manager, he is involved with a broad array of Marine Protected Area management issues including research, education and resource protection. Since obtaining a graduate degree in Zoology from the University of Georgia, G.P. has held a variety of positions relating to marine research, coastal management, resource planning and environmental regulation. His primary interest is the ecology and management of coral reefs and associated ecosystems, and he has a specific interest and expertise in the biology and ecology of marine sponges.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
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