Member profile - Pam Arnold

There is an expression, “If you remember the ‘60’s, you were never there”. That may be true, but there are a few of us who are the exceptions which proves the rule. We can recall some that elusive decade. To prove this, we can recall two significant facts: 1. The music was really good during that decade. 2. Grandmothers were regarded with great reverence. For example, it was the decade when Grandma Moses, the celebrated artist passed away. In the 60’s grandmothers were portrayed in dual roles. On one hand, they were pictured as sedate, loving, bespeckled elder female relatives, who either were expecting a visit from Red Riding Hood or always baking cakes and treats for you when you came over to her house. The traditional nana. On the other hand, there was the ‘60’s grandmother, made famous by the tuneful but woefully politically incorrectly titled “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”. This grandmother owned a Dodge and terrorised Colorado Avenue, according to Jan and Dean. Go Granny, Go! In addition, we recall, there was a strong desire to appear like our grandmothers by spending years in High School, saving up to buy a pair of granny glasses, not only to copy John Lennon, but because it was cool to look like a granny.
Today, while nans are now called Female Senior Citizens, there are still those who insist on both keeping the traditional role of grandmother, mixing it with a bit of ‘60’s babushka as well. This bio blurb is about such a mee-maw, Pam Arnold, ranked 22 in the project and known to members as @pamelaviolet (View Profile). Pam has recorded over 1,110 observations for the project, comprising 187 species. As a retired hair dresser, if you look in a standard dictionary, you might find Pam’s photo next to the listing for “Grandmother”. She is very much a traditional grandmother to 5 grandchildren, finding time for standard grandmotherly duties such as baking, arts and crafts and caring for her family. From afar she looks like the consummate Abuela: waiting with anticipation for visitors (none wearing red riding hoods) and other times preparing treats for friends and anyone who comes over.
However, like her fictional counterpart from Pasadena, all is not as it seems. Looking into her closet you will see she’s no typical gran. A quick glance at Pam’s belongings would reveal, not gingerbread recipe books but well used snorkelling and swimming gear, a collection of Olympus TG-6 cameras and an array of wetsuits and thermals. They sit proudly next to the collection of running gear and high-tech physical performance measuring devices. Not what you’d expect to find in a matriarch’s cupboard.
Pam, for many years, has been a dedicated ocean swimmer, and most mornings will find her battling the Pacific surf, to swim around Shark Island, in Cronulla with other members of the Shelly Ocean Swimmers. She is often joined by other AF project members such as number 8 ranked @lucyinthesea (View Member Bio), and Number 24 ranked @diana88jingfung (View profile) and number 66 ranked, @pam-_darook (View profile). Like most members of this Cronulla ocean swimming group, Pam has developed a passion for swimming, snorkelling, fish identification and underwater photography.
Pam’s journey from typical Oma to citizen scientist took place over 20 years. It began with a desire to become a better swimmer, when she and her husband moved to Cronulla. She started in a local rockpool, initially achieving only a modest 3 laps a visit, but over time, and with determination, she’d worked up to a daily workout of 30 laps (one kilometre). Go Granny Go! Over time, however, the pool became more crowded and there appeared to be plenty of space in the nearby Pacific Ocean, which attracted Pam and her friends, so the morning rockpool swimmers evolved into regular ocean swimmers, calling themselves, Shelly Ocean Swimmers, meeting at Shelly Beach, Cronulla. The group noticed there were fish in the area, so became interested in fish identification, resulting in Pam amassing an impressive collection of fish books. Fish proved elusive for easy identification, so eight years ago, the group purchased underwater cameras, for $35 each from Aldi. The cameras opened up an entirely new world wonder and excited exploration, and eventually, when the Aldi cameras failed, the group upgraded to Olympus rugged model cameras. With the amassing of images and newly developed image editing skills for her iPad, it was only natural that a desire to contribute to citizen science was born, which continued to fuel their passion for all things underwater. Pam’s photos, which have won a photo award, were loaded in to several iNaturalist projects including Australasian Fishes. Eventually the group founded its own iNaturalist site, Shelly Ocean Swimmers Marine Biodiversity Project, focused mainly on the Cronulla area and it’s underwater environs. There are over 15,000 observations on the site and additional findings are uploaded daily.
At 8:00 am, virtually all mornings of the year, you can find Pam and her friends at the water’s edge, starting their swim with anticipation of the wonders they may encounter. There is always a shared sense of excitement about what the upcoming snorkelling will bring. While not all swims create memorable encounters with marine life, there are several snorkelling experiences which remain in the forefront of Pam’s memory. You can imagine that anyone who swims in the ocean everyday will have experiences which elude the casual swimmer. Three incidents which Pam recalls most fondly involve coming across large schools of Australian Cownose Rays, Rhinoptera neglecta, which are known for travelling groups numbering in the hundreds, and put on a spectacular show as they occupy the entire water column. On one occasion, a large school of these rays circled her twice, enveloping her, as an honorary member of the school. Other memorable swims include several dolphin encounters, however, the closest encounter she experienced featured a large pod of dolphins, which repeatedly swam by her, but sadly, her camera was not working at the time.
Camera failure is not new to Pam, but as you can tell, her cameras receive a workout probably not envisioned by the manufacturer. Pam and her Shelly Ocean Swimmer friends all use the Olympus TG-6 model camera. To make it more user-friendly for swimming, they visited the carpentry isle at Bunnings, purchasing a carpenter’s belt and cords, to make a TG-6 holster, freeing their hands for distance swimming, but allowing for a quick draw, if a photo opportunity presents itself. From her collection of photos in iNaturalist, over the years, you can quickly see that nothing escapes the eyes of the Shelly Ocean Swimmers and Pam.
Her photo filing system grew out of her fascination with certain aspects of the marine environment. Like all photographers, she has her favourite marine organisms, such as blennies, which she finds entertaining and each possessing their own, unique personality. Pam also has become enchanted by a type of red algae, which the group calls daisies, found in the Shelly Beach Ocean Pool. Pam has enthusiastically photographed these daisies over the past four years, recording the changes over time, to see what factors affect their growth. She’s still working on this project, with as much passion and delight as she had on the first day she spotted them.
While Pam’s grandmum hobbies have included macramé, porcelain painting, jewellery working, dress making and candle wicking, she also known for her competitive running activities. Being married to a widely respected running coach in South Sydney, her children have always been involved in athletics and running. Rather than watch from the sidelines, Pam started to run as well, 35 years ago. Her running had a hiatus, but is now back underway, hitting 3 kilometres a day, along with other Shelly Ocean Swimmer grandmothers (and mothers). Pam participates in cross country racing at club level during summer and winter seasons.
Not your typical grandmother. Although she does not race a Dodge on the streets of California, Pam and her Shelly Ocean Swimmers cohort are dedicated and motivated citizen scientists, who have contributed substantially to the Australasian Fishes Project and our knowledge about the marine life in Sutherland Shire. She has endless enthusiasm and passion, exploring her patch of ocean on a daily basis, taking delight in adding to the scientific knowledge of the region. Of course, there is always a price to pay for passion. Pam has probably earned a reputation at Olympus, especially in their warranty repair division, where it is suspected, her name is well known. Pam’s almost daily workout of the rugged little red camera, has usually been incident free, but such usage in a marine environment can take any piece of equipment to its limits and she has sent many a camera back to Olympus, which developed problems during the warranty period. While the number of repairs remains somewhat unclear, they must be significant, judging by two factors. Firstly, she has an unusually large collection of camera batteries and cables, as Olympus often sends Pam a new camera to replace to faulty one, sending the old camera back as well. Secondly, we note Olympus sold its camera division to a company called JIP in early 2021. Perhaps a contributing factor was all of Pam’s warranty work. Regardless, she keeps swimming with her camera, and keeps taking and uploading photos into Australasian Fishes, but we suspect her name is well known around the Olympus repair division. Go Granny Go!
This journal post was written by Australasian Fishes member Harry Rosenthal.
Publicado el 08 de enero de 2022 a las 06:17 AM por markmcg markmcg


Haha, that’s Pam to a tee!

Anotado por lucyinthesea hace mas de 2 años

Love it!

Anotado por amandahay hace mas de 2 años

My pleasure. There are many unique people out there, it is nice to write about them.

Anotado por harryrosenthal hace mas de 2 años

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