The ocean has fascinated Dana ever since a summer vacation in the early 1960’s that included a visit to the rocky tide pools of Maine. The wonderful sight of marine creatures in a seaweed-filled pool will never be forgotten. Later, trips to the panhandle of Florida were filled with excitement as Dana and his family pulled a seine through the seagrass beds and collected seahorses, pipefishes, cowfishes, and a myriad of other animals. Bringing some of these animals home to a suburb of Atlanta only seemed natural, and so it began.
A renewed fascination began with the publication of George Smith’s late 1980’s articles in Freshwater and Marine Aquarium (FAMA) concerning the keeping of marine invertebrates and algae. Dana read everything he could get his hands on and once again began keeping marine invertebrates. At that time, a heavy emphasis was placed on technology to keep corals alive. After spending a considerable amount on various devices and obtaining only moderate success, Dana decided to invest in some scientific instruments with the first being a meter to test PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation.) Then, a good PAR meter and underwater sensor cost $1,500.
To Dana’s knowledge, he was the only hobbyist in the US to own such a device at that time. Dana began writing for aquarium hobbyist literature such as SeaScope, Marine Fish Monthly, and FAMA to pay for this equipment. More equipment purchases were made, and Dana went on and wrote for other publications such as MASNA’s newsletter, Breeders’ Registry, Koralle, Récifal, Aquarium Frontiers (and later Advanced Aquarist), Planted Aquaria, Manhattan Reefs, and others. To date, Dana has over 250 articles published over the last 30 years. Dana’s book, The Captive Reef, was published in 1995. Dana’s little laboratory now has $100,000 worth of equipment, including, besides all the standard things, an analytical balance, centrifuge, spectrometer, colorimeter, data loggers, Ocean Optics spectrometers for analyses of light, two PAM fluorometers, drying oven, incubators, water bath, chlorophyll meters, electronic water velocity meter, and so on. These instruments have generated a lot of information and Dana’s writings have become much more technical in nature. Comments on them are coming from serious hobbyists as well as the professional reef science community.
Invitations to speak at clubs around the country began, followed by regional and national conferences. To date, Dana has made over 60 presentations from coast to coast.
Dana has contributed to many aquarium publications and Advance Aquarist articles since the 1990s and is a staple in the marine aquarium hobby. Dana’s MACNA 2016 presentation called “Turbocharge Photosynthesis! Alkalinity, Light, & Water Motion” can be found here.