Legends of Diving Articles


The Marine
Identification Course

Personal Account by Ben Rose

The marine identification course has its roots in my first years at UNEXSO. Bob Farley and Dave Woodward suggested that we put together a book on fish identification. Then, we decided to implement a course on general marine identification. I was really keen to do this course as it brought all my skills and interests together.

Thirty people attended the first course. I was absolutely stunned that there were that many people on Grand Bahama who were interested. And, to be frank, it wasn’t my best course. I might have had all the knowledge, but I needed to learn to teach and that first course gave me the opportunity to understand the nature of teaching and put the subject into a context and format that people could understand.

I developed a “water column” concept; looking at surface dwellers, midwater dwellers, reef dwellers and bottom dwellers. We soon added dives to the course. The objective here was to give people an opportunity to understand the nature of the ocean: its white sand plains, turtle grass beds, its reefs and the microstructure that is there. Frankly, I think it makes diving more interesting and assists divers in understanding the fragility of the living ocean. You can stay on a coral head for an hour (or more, much to the consternation of some of the divers) and see an entire tiny world of critters going about their business.

In my book, the most beautiful little fish on the reef is the fairy baslet, probably because purple is my favorite color. I picked up the scientific names for fish as I developed experience.

Until a diver really begins to look and to see the microcosms that make up the living ocean, there is a tendency to think that there is nothing there. Only then can you understand that there is an entire life system out there that is incredibly important to the ecology of the ocean.

About the Author

Ben Rose: UNEXSO Guide and Marine Expert

At an early age Ben Rose knew he belonged in the ocean. He came to UNEXSO in 1965 already with amateur experience in diving. There he learned to dive with sharks. He has expanded his knowledge of sharks to expert level. He started a marine identification program, identifying and categorizing species of fish in the Caribbean. He is an avid writer, sharing his experiences through personal accounts of diving history and diving with sharks. (Read more accounts by Ben Rose)

Ben Rose

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© 1993 Originally Published in Historical Diver Magazine
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