Anyone who has ever snorkeled or dove with Ann Fielding retains a single enduring image of her: Just up from the water, an array of reference books on marine life spread before her, her clients huddled around. She's totally engaged in explaining what they've just seen and her boundless enthusiasm is shared by the entire group. No one has ever gone exploring with Ann and come back bored...
Ann shares her extensive
knowledge of Hawaiian marine life in her three best-selling
books: Hawaiian Reefs and Tidepools; An
Underwater Guide to Hawaii, (co-authored with Ed
Robinson); and a children's book, Sand to Sea: Marine
Life of Hawaii (co-authored with Stephanie Feeney,
photos by Ed Robinson).
Ann earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was the Waikiki Aquarium's first director of public education and she conducted research in crustacean taxonomy at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu. Ann moved from Honolulu to Maui in 1979 to become the head of the Science Department at Seabury Hall, a private college preparatory school in "up-country" Maui.
She was a consultant on reef biology to the Maui Ocean Center, a major new aquarium on Maui. She served as the marine naturalist on the World Discoverer, an eco-adventure tour cruise ship in the South Pacific in 1998.
Ann is a PADI scuba diving instructor and an accomplished underwater photographer. And, in her boundless curiosity about everything, she has gained expertise in Maui's geology, bird life, botany and cultural history.
But above all, she's a teacher, but not in a classroom (she found that too confining). Years ago she chose to leave the laboratory and school to teach ecology in the living classroom of the sea. She does it by sharing the excitement of discovery with her clients: "Did you see that? Cool!"
Ann is the mother of a grown
son and daughter and has three grandchildren. Anyone
bringing their children to Maui really ought to spend some
time with Ann. The kids who go snorkeling and tidepooling
with her all go home wanting to be marine biologists. What
could possibly be more fascinating or fun?
Ann has received loads of accolades in the three decades she has been operating Snorkel Maui and Island Explorations (a travel company that has been retired). But perhaps the nicest came from Irwin, the Belgian cook aboard the Palau Aggressor, a few years ago. Irwin was sitting with one of Ann's friends in the rear of the salon watching Ann lecture on butterflyfishes, one of her favorite topics:
"You know," Irwin said, "Ann is the kindest person who has ever been aboard this boat."