Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Diver Advisory Council

Sanctuary Advisory Council Members

Click here to download a PDF of the Gray's Reef Council Directory.

Click here to download a PDF of past Gray's Reef Council Members.


Michael Denmark (Chair)

Michael Denmark

Michael Denmark is a Savannah native who grew up around the inland waters between Wassaw and Sapelo sounds. Knowing his priorities early in life, he owned a boat before he owned a car! Michael is a graduate of the University of Georgia, earning a BS in Zoology with an emphasis in marine physiology. Michael also gained certification in scuba diving while at the university, and attained the level of Dive Master before his graduation. He continued his passion for diving and attained the level of Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Master Scuba Instructor. He has since logged over 4000 dives as a Master Instructor, and hundreds of those dives were logged on Gray's Reef. Michael is also a licensed 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard Captain, and owned a fishing and diving charter business while living in Florida. Michael spent 32 years as an executive with Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, retiring as Director of their Neuroscience Business Unit, all the while fishing in his spare time. Once retired from corporate life, Michael and his wife Chrissy, moved back to the low country of Georgia, the area they are so fond of. He served for three years as the Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia. He is currently assisting his family in their real estate and investment businesses. He and his wife reside on Tybee Island. His hobbies include fishing, diving, kayaking and sailing.

Scott Noakes (Vice-Chair)
Non-living Resources Research

Scott Noakes

Scott Noakes is a Research Scientist at The University of Georgia (UGA) Center for Applied Isotope Studies (CAIS). He received his BS in Petroleum Engineering from Mississippi State University and MS and PhD from UGA in Marine Science. He has been involved with ocean acidification/CO2 monitoring, paleontological and surficial geologic studies at Gray's Reef and surrounding areas for many years. His home department at UGA is involved with marine environmental surveys in estuarine and coastal regions and utilizes isotopic, elemental and organic analytes. CAIS also houses an accelerator mass spectrometer used in carbon dating organic-based samples such as ancient shells and bone fragments, many of which have come from the Gray's Reef area. In addition to his work at CAIS-UGA, he is also the Director and Diving Safety Officer of the University System of Georgia Scientific Diving Program, an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) organizational member. Many of the divers currently doing research at Gray's Reef are members of the USG dive program.

Mona Behl (Secretary)
NOAA Sea Grant

Mona Behl

Mona Behl serves as the Associate Director of University of Georgia's Sea Grant Program and Marine Extension Service. An innovative leader with a broad programmatic vision, Behl is responsible for leading all aspects of Sea Grant programming which includes visioning, strategic planning, grant administration, and development and oversight of trans-disciplinary efforts in research, outreach, and education. Her research interests include air-sea interaction, coastal resilience, science policy, risk communication, and diversity and inclusion in geosciences. Prior to her current position, Behl directed Texas Sea Grant's research program from 2013-2015, and worked as a Visiting Fellow with the American Meteorological Society's Policy Program in Washington D.C. from 2012-2013. She received her Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography from Florida State University, and B.S. and M.S. in Physics (Honors School) from Panjab University (India).

Other Non-Government Seat Members

Paulita Bennett-Martin

Peter Auster

Born to a Belizean mom and an adventure diver who settled down in Belize City, Paulita has a born passion for the ocean. Since 2012, she has worked in research, advocacy, and alliance building to protect marine resources and waterfront culture in coastal Georgia and the Caribbean. She is now the statewide representative in Georgia for the International NGO Oceana.

Before joining Oceana, Paulita was the Fisheries Outreach Coordinator for an Emory University research team looking at the viability for a commercial Lionfish market in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and managed an oral history project for the Ogeechee Riverkeeper. She also led advocacy work for the organization One Hundred Miles in Savannah, Georgia, where she defeated dangerous industrial waste developments and worked with local governments to raise visibility for endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. Paulita has mapped marine plastics issues and campaigned for clean-ups across Belize with Oceana, Oceanic Society and the Belizean government. In 2015, Paulita brought this message to Atlanta where she helped organize the Plastic Gyre Symposium, an international event prompting the city of Atlanta to pass a resolution establishing Plastic Reduction Day. Paulita graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia State University in the Department of Geosciences, then went on to complete graduate studies at Emory University, earning a Master�s in Development Practice with a focus on Sustainable Environments and Livelihoods.

Outside of work, Paulita shares as much time as possible with her husband, and is always eager to create more memories on the water.

Peter Auster
Living Resources Research

Peter Auster

Peter Auster's research focuses on the ecology, conservation and management of marine fishes and their habitats. He is a Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut and the Science Director for the University's Northeast Undersea Research, Technology & Education Center. He also has an appointment as Senior Research Scientist at Sea Research Foundation. He has participated as a scientist or chief scientist on over 50 major research cruises and countless day trips to sites worldwide, including shallow coral reefs in tropical waters as well as submarine canyons and seamounts in the deep sea. For the past 25 years, Auster has conducted studies to understand how differences in habitat influence the distribution and abundance of fish communities, the ecological effects of fishing, and the potential role that marine protected areas can play in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity. He has conducted over 1,500 scuba dives and over 500 remote vehicle and manned submersible dives for such studies. In all of his efforts, he emphasizes public education and outreach to stakeholders and policy makers. Among multiple honors for his work he was named as a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation in 1999, presented with a NOAA Environmental Hero Award in 2000 and was promoted to the rank of Fellow of The American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists in 2005.

Bob Crimian

Bob Crimian

Bob Crimian works for The Nature Conservancy as the Coast and Ocean Partnership Coordinator for the Southeast United States. He guides regional marine conservation initiatives, co-leading the region's sustainable fisheries strategies and coordinating development of regional marine protection and climate adaptation work. He also coordinates marine conservation efforts across four state chapters working to increase regional marine capacity and promote cross-program learning. In addition, he is a member of the Gray's Reef Recreational Fishing Working Group and works closely with Gray's Reef staff on angler engagement. Prior to joining TNC, Bob worked with South Carolina's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and Department of Natural Resources. Bob holds a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from the College of Charleston and a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science, with Biology and Environmental Science Minors, from Coastal Carolina University.

Joseph Glenn
Sport Diving

Joseph Glenn

Joseph Glenn is the owner of Southern Dive Center in Statesboro, Georgia. He has logged over 700 recorded dives from ocean diving to technical cave diving. Joseph is a Certified Instructor Trainer for Scuba Diving International, as well as an active Scubility Instructor for adaptive diving designed for physically disabled divers. Joseph is also the Scuba Instructor for Georgia Southern University on both the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses.

Monique Gordon
K-12 Education

Monique Gordon

Monique is a New York transplant with 2 yrs science teaching experience. With a MSEd and BS in chemistry from SUNY Stony Brook her first passion is Marine Science. This is her first year teaching in Georgia with a reciprocal teaching certificate. While looking for a truly science-immersed experience to match the 8 summers at Brookhaven National Lab summer science programs she found there to be a lack of science camps in Savannah. Monique has made a commitment to creating more science education through fun and exploration, in the classroom as well as outdoors. She believes this endeavor will open the minds of young scholars and hopefully inspire them to become science-minded adults. She has a son and one granddaughter to whom she will pass her legacy. In order to do this she will immerse herself in the wondrous science that Georgia has to offer, and emanate that to those curious young minds.

Colby Harris
Sport Fishing

Colby Harris

Colby was born and raised in South Georgia and is a Shellman Bluff native. His love for the outdoors began at an early age, due to being on the water before he could walk. Since then he has become a strong conservationist. He started out mating for his father on entertainment trips for customers of their family business Harris ACE Hardware; furthermore leading him to captaining his first offshore tournament team at the age of fourteen and competing ever since. He is an active member in numerous conservation organizations, both land and sea, and is actively involved in multiple communities in southeast Georgia. His number one passion above all is his family, he is married to Amber Harris and they have three beautiful children who all share a love for the outdoors. Colby cares strongly about our coastal resources and is committed to ensure the same opportunities of fishing and scuba diving at Gray's Reef, as he had, for future generations to come.

Warren Hupman
Charter/Commercial Fishing

Warren Hupman

Warren Hupman was raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and has been on the water since he was five years old. He came to Georgia in 1989, and works as a planner at Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Marys, Georgia, with plans to retire in 2015. Then, he says "I can devote all my time to fishing and being a council member for Gray's Reef." Warren has been a charter boat captain for over 20 years and runs two boats out of St. Marys. When not at Kings Bay, Warren spends most of his time on the water fishing and protecting the environment. He became a scuba diver in 1996 and loves to see the fish on the reefs. Warren prefers fishing catch-and-release methods "so the fish come back for another day."

Mark Padgett

Mark Padgett

Mark Padgett moved to coastal Georgia in 1980 after graduating from Shorter College with a BS in Environmental Science, Biology. He has been a full time resident of Tybee Island for the past 35 years. He worked at Fort Pulaski National Monument as an interpretive ranger and worked for the Coastal Section of the Regulatory Branch of the Savannah District Corps of Engineers where he recently retired after 33 years of Federal service. As a wetland biologist with the Corps he has experience with National Environmental Policy Act guidelines and policies. He has developed and implemented Inshore and Offshore Artificial Reef Regional Permits for the State of Georgia and has coordinated the issuance and revisions to the State Programmatic General Permit for coastal docks. He has a mix of scientific environmental knowledge, educational outreach and interpretation, and personal local coastal ecology. He has addressed coastal issues with multiple stakeholders to include Federal and State agencies, military, environmental consultants, congressional interests, and the general public. Mark developed Corps permit special conditions for endangered species to include the North Atlantic right whale and loggerhead sea turtle. He has reviewed potential offshore oil exploration and alternative energy projects such as wind electric generation. He has been involved in the development and conduction of educational outreach and interpretation for town hall meetings, school programs, organization meetings, local governmental agencies, scoping meetings, and media inquiries. Upon retirement he obtained his Captains license from the US Coast Guard and formed Caretta Charters LLC. Mark has most recently been chartering environmental trips in the Little Tybee and Chatham County tidal marsh areas. He is a member of the Tybee Island Marine Rescue Squadron, Tybee Island Land Trust and Friends of Ossabaw Island.

Government Members

Georgia Department of Natural Resources,
Coastal Resources Division

Rick DeVictor
NOAA Fisheries Service, Ex Officio

Rick DeVictor

Rick DeVictor is a fishery biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg, Florida. He serves as the plan coordinator for interdisciplinary plan teams responsible for writing fishery management plans by compiling and analyzing environmental, biological, socioeconomic, and other technical data to support the implementation of fishing regulations. He received his BS in Marine Biology from the College of Charleston in 1997 and an MS from Nova Southeastern University in 2002. Following completion of his graduate degree, he served as an environmental scientist with the Florida Department of Transportation by conducting environmental impact assessments for roadway projects in South Florida. From 2001 to 2010, he was employed by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in Charleston, SC, where he was lead scientist involving issues related to species in the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Unit.

Suzanne VanParreren
Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve
Ex Officio

Suanne VanParreren

Suzanne VanParreren is the Coastal Training Program (CTP) Coordinator for the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. She has worked in the field of marine ecosystem management for over 15 years in SC and Georgia. She has conducted research on the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the diamondback terrapin in the SC estuaries. Her biology internship was spent diving and snorkeling the reefs at Key Largo with the Marine Resources Development Foundation. Currently as the CTP Coordinator for the reserve she works with coastal decision makers in municipal, state and federal governments, elected officials, environmental NGOs, land trusts and conservation organizations, business and community groups. Through her leadership with the CTP she helps provide the most current scientific information to stakeholders to encourage more informed decisions on the management of the natural resources on the coast. This work includes conducting stakeholder and organizational needs assessments to identify and characterize training and information needs; designing science communication and translation processes; identifying the relationship, substance and process aspects of environmental conflict; and designing and developing strategic planning processes for environmental management needs. She received her BS degree in nursing from Florida State University and her biology degree from the College of Charleston. Suzanne is a 2012 graduate from the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her partner and their two girls, kayaking and gardening.

LT Warren Fair
U. S. Coast Guard, Ex Officio

Warren Fair

LT Warren Fair was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. He and his family moved to the United States in 1986 and from then on called Texas home. He enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in Corpus Christi, TX and graduated boot camp from Cape May, NJ in 1999.
Upon graduation, LT Fair reported aboard the CGC MUNRO (WHEC-724) home ported in Alameda, CA, where he served on the Deck Force conducting Fisheries Patrols in Alaska and drug interdiction patrols off the Coast of Mexico. After the events of September 11, 2001, LT Fair focused his career towards Law Enforcement, and was selected in 2004 as a Plank Owner Instructor at the Maritime Law Enforcement Academy in Charleston, SC. In 2007, he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School. Upon receiving his commission he reported to Sector Houston-Galveston as an Enforcement Duty Officer where he led law enforcement operations. His next tour was at Coast Guard Headquarters at the Office of Boat Forces. During his tour, he championed the first ever Coast Guard standardized formal ice rescue training program.
In July of 2013, LT Fair reported to Marine Safety Unit Savannah as the Response Department Head. He directed the execution of Maritime Homeland Security operations for two ports, conducted security operations, conducted Fisheries Enforcement and ensured all hazard response missions to over one hundred miles of ecologically sensitive coastline and national wildlife refuges.
LT Fair is married to the former Sarah Cook, and has three beautiful children Mackenzie (16), Jackson (10), and Brenden (8).

Bob Lynn
Georgia Department of Natural Resources,
Law Enforcement Division, Ex Officio

Bob Lynn has served in the capacity of Captain with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Law Enforcement Division since 2011. In this capacity, he oversees the law enforcement activities of officers in nine counties and Georgia's coast. Prior to being promoted to the rank of Captain, he served as a Field Sergeant Supervisor for 7 years. He was selected as the National Boating Safety Officer of the Year and James R. Darnell Award in 2003. He is a member of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Law Enforcement Advisory Panel and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Law Enforcement Committee. He has an Associate Degree from Thomas University and is a graduate of the Professional Management Program and Law Enforcement Command College.

Carolyn Belcher

Peter Auster

Dr. Carolyn Belcher is the Marine Fisheries Chief for the Coastal Resources Division. In her position, Carolyn is responsible for daily supervision and administrative oversight of the Marine Fisheries Section, which conducts marine life/saltwater angler surveys, collects seafood harvest statistics, constructs fish habitat, and develops/maintains boating and fishing access along the coast. She also is involved in interstate and federal fishery management through participation in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and as a member of the Gray�s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

Carolyn was born in Rhode Island and earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in the field of Statistical Science with an applied field in Biology from the University of Rhode Island. In 2008, she earned a PhD in Forestry and Natural Resources from the University of Georgia. Carolyn and her husband moved to Georgia in 1994 and she has been employed with the state of Georgia since 1996, serving first with CRD, then with the UGA Marine Extension Service, then returning to CRD in 2006, where she served as a program manager for research and surveys before becoming chief.

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Ex Officio

NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (NOAA OLE) protects living marine resources through enforcement. Working with the US Coast Guard and state fish and wildlife enforcement agencies NOAA OLE conducts patrols and performs investigations into alleged violations, including any National Marine Sanctuary violations.

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