Diving underwater in a search for hidden treasure


Stemming from a childhood interest in marine life, Diamond Bar High School senior Joseph Lo has followed far lengths to pursue his passion, from getting a scuba license to working alongside professional researchers.

Starting from a  young age, Lo went on many fishing trips with his grandfather, fostering an interest in marine biology.

“Each time we caught a fish, he would tell me the species of the fish and just generally about them. I found it really interesting and wanted to learn more,” Lo said.

This interest stuck with Lo as he grew up, and during this summer, he decided to take another step in his journey of learning about the sea.

“This summer I got certified for scuba diving. When I first got into the ocean, I realized that this is what I wanted to do,” Lo said. “The process began with a lot of online courses and studies, similar to the online driver’s permit.”

After the first test swim, Lo took pool tests, studying real-world scenarios within a large pool, to learn the fundamentals of scuba diving with a master diver.

“After pool testing, I took my final test at Laguna Beach, and had to take four tests in order to get my scuba-diving license,” Lo said.

After getting this certification, Lo attended a summer program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he could work alongside professors and be of assistance in research.

“We went on four dives off the coast because North Carolina is where the U.S. built a lot of ships during World War II, but [they] had to sink some that they didn’t need, which created an artificial reef,” Lo said. “We went diving at the Graveyard of the Atlantic, where they sank most of their useless ships.”

While diving, Lo and the other students filled out waterproof notebooks to identify the fish species that they saw as a means to help future researchers study populations of fish in that area.

“We also did more research, such as extracting DNA from seagrass in order to help someone who wanted to write an article about the diversity of seagrass in North Carolina,” Lo said. “We also dissected dead bass and analyzed their body parts under a microscope, looking for tongue-eating bacteria and incubating it in hopes of helping find a treatment for cancer.”

Through this summer camp, Lo had finally realized his lifelong passion, and going into the future, has found his own ambitions and goals.

“I hope to get a PH.D. [in marine biology] and bring life back to all the dying coral reefs, restoring their color,” Lo said. “I want people in the future to see the colorful reefs that I have been able to see.”