Throughout my childhood, I was always the kid playing around in the rocks, streams, mud, and tide pools. No matter where my parents took me, I found something in the natural world that was interesting. Whether it was plants, fishes, mammals, birds, or reptiles, it didn’t matter. I was captivated by the diversity of both living and non-living things. Through both high school and my time as an undergraduate, I dabbled in just about every biology-related field that I could enroll in. I even ventured into the world of volcanoes when I took volcanology – something I didn’t even know existed until I saw it in the course handbook! But it was the marine environment that ultimately captivated me. This most intriguing and mysterious environment always amazed me, and even though other avenues in my life opened and occasionally pulled me in various directions, my intense curiosity of the marine world repeatedly brought me back.
To this day, I am still trying to scratch my intellectual itch when it comes to marine biology. I am currently working on unraveling the mysteries of the California moray eel – a resident of the southern Californian kelp forest ecosystem. Incredibly, even though kelp forests are one of the most well studied systems in the ocean, almost nothing is known about these cryptic and elusive predators. Therefore, we also do not know how California morays fit into the incredibly diverse communities that occupy kelp forests. What do California morays eat? How often do they need to eat? How old can they get? How many are there in a given area? What role (if any) do morays play in regulating or maintaining species diversity within southern Californian kelp forests? The goal of my research is to answer as many of these questions as I can and provide some insight into the world of the California moray and their species interactions.