Archive for January, 2012

Newly Added!

Jan 18, 2012 No Comments by Sea Stories

Be sure to read the recently added and very unique interview in Hinterland with Deb Goeb. http://seastories.org/category/hinterland/

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Deb Goeb

Jan 18, 2012 No Comments by Sea Stories

Casey R. Schulke Interviews Deb Goeb, 2011 United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Refuge Officer of the Year for the Mountain-Prairie Region

CRS: Deb, first of all, thank you for being a part of Sea Stories. This is sure to be one of the most unique interviews for the journal! Let’s start by talking about your job, as I think it might surprise our readers a little bit!

DG: I am a full time Law Enforcement Officer for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Montana.  Thankfully, I can’t describe an average day, as my job is anything but routine.  Depending on the season, I’m a game warden dealing with poachers or a cop handling drug and alcohol related issues.  I also serve as an Engine Boss on fire assignments and as a Use of Force instructor for a variety of law enforcement applications.  I’m a member of the Service Honor Guard as well as on the Service Dive Team.  Basically, I never know where I’m going to be asked to go or what I’ll be asked to do – from taking horses into the back country, a two week assignment in Guam, a three week assignment in Alaska, teaching at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center or diving in Puerto Rico surveying coral reefs.

CRS: You’re based in rural Montana? So, what brings you to the ocean?

DG: I have not always been stationed in Montana, but I have always loved being in, on, or around the water.  Being on the ocean, I get sea sick, but put me in the ocean and I’m as comfortable there as I am on land.  I’m drawn to the ocean because it’s a whole other world on our world that still holds secrets and mysteries yet to be discovered and understood.  I feel fortunate that my personal fascination with the ocean now crosses paths with my professional opportunities.

CRS: Let’s start at the beginning.Where did your love of diving start?

DG: My father was a diver. One day when I was a kid, using his tank and regulator, he let me sit on the bottom of a lake in northern Wisconsin. That was it!  Running out of air was the only thing that got me out of the water that day.

CRS: How long have you been diving?

DG: Since I was 12 years old.Off and on, as finances, employment, and location have permitted.

CRS: Wow! With all those years of experience, you must have some amazing stories. Tell me about your most exhilarating experience underwater?

DG: It’s hard to choose just one. It’s more of a tie between each “first”.  The first time stingrays surrounded me at Stingray City in the Cayman, the first time a barracuda came nose-to-mask to check me out, the first time I caught a lobster in the Florida Keys, the first time I descended over a sunken ship in St. Thomas and it slowly took shape out of the darkness. All of these experiences made my heart beat a little faster and pound a little louder in my ears.

CRS: You’ve also probably seen some amazing animals during your diving experiences.  What has been your favorite?

DG: I have seen and swam alongside most of the creatures that all divers dream of seeing and swimming with – dolphins, sharks , rays, and sea turtles. But, believe it or not, one of my favorite sea creature experiences is with a group little critters called cleaner shrimp.  While exploring a ship wreck, I put my ungloved hand in the sand on the ocean floor and suddenly out marched a troop of cleaner shrimp. Theyimmediately went to work on my fingers. I’d never even had a manicure before!

CRS: Here’s a tough question. If you could only dive one more time, where would it be and why?

DG: The first place that comes to mind is Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona.  I am a huge history geek and to be able to touch that piece of history before the ocean consumes it and its lost forever would be the thrill of a lifetime.

CRS: Getting back to your work for a moment, how does your job directly relate to ocean conservation?

DG: The work I do with the dive team impacts ocean conservation on two fronts. First, through law enforcement and protection. Second, through biological survey and research.  In a law enforcement capacity, the dive team has been instrumental in stopping and prosecuting illegal commercial and private harvesting of lobster throughout the Florida Keys.  Such large scale illegal take of a single species has not only immediate and obvious consequences, but also untold repercussions for generations to come.  Other protection efforts have included investigating and stopping the illegal take of fish and marine life for both commercial and personal use as well as the illegal introduction of invasive species.  Biological research has included coral reef and fish surveys and transplanting coral to create new, healthy reefs.  With biological research, law enforcement can better understand how to protect the natural resources in the ocean.  In turn, biologists will continue to have the rich biodiversity on which their research and understanding of our oceans so greatly rely.

CRS: Tell me a little bit more about the ocean-related biological studies you’ve been a part of.

DG: The only biological work that I’ve contributed to so far has been a coral reef survey in Puerto Rico in 2010.  The ongoing concerns for the health of our world’s ocean reefs has recently turned to alarm because of how quickly they are dying.  We dove on several reefs near Culebra Puerto Rico and using specific parameters set by the biologists, surveyed and inventoried the type and variety of both living and dead coral.  This data will be used to track the health of these reefs over the next decade.  Several other biological surveys have been planned such as transplanting coral, recovering fish survey equipment, fish surveys, and invasive mussel work.  Unfortunately,  due to a variety of environmental conditions, all have been postponed or rescheduled.  A lot of factors have to come together to enable us to safely and successfully conduct these ocean studies, so I’m hoping 2012 will be more cooperative than 2011 was.

CRS: Deb, you seem like a very brave woman. I’m not a swimmer or a diver, so I have to ask. Have you ever been scared while in the ocean?

DG: I’ve been, among other things, nervous, anxious, excited, startled, apprehensive, and uneasy, but never actually scared while in the ocean.  I’ve never had anything go terribly wrong while diving and I think that as long as you respect your environment, know your limitations, and maintain awareness to your surroundings, there is little to be truly afraid of.

CRS: Thank you so much for allowing me to speak with you and thank you for the work you do to protect our oceans.

Hibernal 2012, Hinterland Read more