Member profile - Gina Mascord

One of the inherent delights of citizen science projects is the realisation of how many people share your interests and passions about the natural world. Citizen science projects like Australasian Fishes not only provide valuable data from the scientific community, expanding our knowledge of fish ranges and behaviours, but also create assemblies of like-minded individuals who otherwise, due to distance or schedules might have never engaged each other. This creation of community, through citizen science promotes mutual support, fosters learning more about the science at hand and provides insight into what drives people to develop from their sport of diving, snorkelling or fishing into someone interested in the science of their environment.
Gina Mascord learned about the project through a presentation at her local dive shop. This was highly appropriate as she strongly believes in the value and benefits of supporting local dive shops, which are suffering from the onslaught of on-line retail and an increasingly challenging business environment. Born and raised at Catherine Hill Bay, south of Newcastle, her early engagement in sports started with soccer and netball, which are both hard on the body, and eventually resulted in injury. Eventually she sought activities that took less of a physical toll and fed her lifelong interest in marine science. She found her way in to a dive shop only 12 years ago, discovering the sport which has become her passion. Diving offered her the ability to remain active and engaged in a demanding sport, while reducing the overall physical impact on her past injuries. This has been a fortunate development for citizen science. Bringing a highly competitive, sporting mindset and motivation to diving, she did not take her underwater activities lightly. Through a local dive shop, she first took basic courses which fueled her interests as she progressed through subsequent courses all the way to Dive Master. The support for the dive shop and the club it formed continued to fuel her interests, which shifted to underwater photography, and she now explores the local ocean in the Swansea area of New South Wales. Sadly, she’s seen six dive shops close in her area, and confides she treats her current shop as “home” as she recognises that such support of the local is critical for the success of sport diving and the vitality of such citizen science projects as ours.
The shops also serve as seeding grounds for important underwater initiatives. For example, Gina is a member of a volunteer group called Combined Hunter Underwater Group (CHUG). The group is involved in a substantial amount of citizen science work, regularly posting images on RedMap , SharkBase, Spot a Shark and now Australasian Fishes. She is currently ranked as number 11 on the project leader board, sharing 561 observations of 152 different species. This is actually remarkable as she only joined the project six months ago, with the expressed objective of being in the Top 10. Did I mention she was competitive?
Ask her about sharks. Gina, while interested in all animals, has always harboured an active concern for these predators. Her personal outrage at the activity of shark finning for soup, which culls tens of millions of sharks a year, has prompted her to sport a distinctive tattoo on her back (photo above) which decries this practice. It serves as catalyst for conversations about the subject, providing her an opportunity for a teaching moment about the barbarism of shark finning.
Since she was a child, she’s had an unwavering love of the ocean, and in her youth aspired to become a marine biologist. While this did not occur, even as a child and with little formal training, she still developed the discipline to research items found on the beach that she found interesting. Gina’s father encouraged her by suggesting she identify items she beachcombed, using books and other resources which refined her research skills. From an early age, she was citizen scientist in development, and our project has benefitted from her passion and discipline.
While the majority of Gina’s photos are from the Swansea area, she travels frequently, making dive trip plans based upon the locations of the marine animal she wishes to photograph. Her recent collection from South Australia features some amazing fishes and her favourite dive sites include Bali (Tulamben) and Fiji (The Rainbow Reef). She also loves Thailand, PNG, the Solomons, Vanuatu, and of course, the Great Barrier Reef.
For photography she currently uses a Cannon G16 with a Recsea housing. She likes the housing because it is made from one piece of metal, with no seams to crack or leak. For light she uses a SeaLife Sea Dragon strobe and a Sea Dragon 2000 video light. She encourages all underwater photographers to purchase a strobe for better light definition, but also suggested post production using Photoshop or Lightroom. We encourage you to have a look at her photos , and feel free to contact Gina for advice or comments.
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member, Harry Rosenthal.
Posted by markmcg markmcg, February 28, 2018 01:11

Comments

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Well done Gina!

Posted by sascha_schulz almost 3 years ago (Flag)
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Uplifting and invigorating profile and info.

This is what strikes fear in the hearts and minds of a certain, easily identifiable organism in Kingdom Animalia(and some intra-species agreement exists as to it's being a very over-represented variety of H sapiens, but evolutionary theory in setting of plague population numbers wipes that) which I shall designate (pro temp in my home state's election month-we vote on 17 March) as:

H.sapiens var. duplicitus [Earliest valid record of taxonomy was in Origin Of Species ,as H. sapiens var. policines (also formerly Homo aff hypocrites...and I am expert @ hypocrisy so my case rests even after the moth ,mollusc or Gollum has emerged)]

Posted by davemmdave almost 3 years ago (Flag)
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And as for dive shops closing, that is anecdotally an ongoing pandemic here in SA

Posted by davemmdave almost 3 years ago (Flag)
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My sincere apologies for the almost unintelligible babbling that I put in my 1st comment.
I simply meant that the more divers advocating the protection of sharks the better!

Posted by davemmdave about 2 months ago (Flag)

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