Hazel and Ali at the colouring brunch. Couples who play together, stay together. Hazel and Ali. A Carribbean Ocean Love Story. OceanInADrop.net

A few months ago, Hazel and Alí came from the Caribbean to visit our marine lab as research students.

I was very blessed to have gotten to spend some time with this lovely couple pursuing their dream of studying the ocean. They traveled from Caribbean Mexico to New Zealand to do some experiments at the marine lab. They came for my colouring-in brunch at my housesit (see the image for ‘A Few Good Stories‘), we spent an afternoon kayaking in the Goat Island channel, and went on a night kiwi and wildlife spotting walk with our knowledgeable classmates and colleagues, Arie and Paul.

I will let them share their beautiful story. I wish I was fluent in more than one language like them! (I’ll brush up on my Mandarin, mum). xo Candace

Hazel and Ali at the colouring brunch. Couples who play together, stay together. Hazel and Ali. A Carribbean Ocean Love Story. OceanInADrop.net

Hazel and Ali at the colouring brunch. Couples who play together, stay together. Hazel and Ali. A Caribbean Ocean Love Story. OceanInADrop.net


Tell us a little bit about how you and Hazel met.


Hazel and I met around three and a half years ago. I was starting my PhD in Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo. Hazel arrived to work on her bachelor’s thesis and we started dating. Her bachelor’s thesis turned into a master’s thesis. Since then we have been travelling and living together, and of course, diving together every time we have a chance.


They each share their answers for our #OceanInADrop Share Your Story questions.

(They come with the free colouring sheet download.)


Names: Hazel M. C. Flores, Alí F. E. Magaña


Where you were born:

Hazel: Hermosillo, Sonora, México

Alí: Zamora, Michoacán, México

Where you live now: Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, México


The last time you colored in some artwork was…

Hazel: One year ago.


About nine years ago, when I had an aquarium shop. I did some illustrations of the most common fish and invertebrates in the trade market to let know the customers how to take care of their pets. I don’t know if that qualifies as artwork, but that was the last time I did some colouring. (Eds: Yes, it totally does.)


Your study / work story:


I’m currently studying my masters degree in marine sciences. I  have always been attracted to the marine life.

When I was young I was both attracted to, and scared of the sea, I guess because of the shark horror movies and stuff like that. In fact, I didn’t learn to swim until I was 15 years old. As I grew up, I started thinking of studying something related to nature, ranging from vet to agronomist, but in the end I decided on studying biology, especially after talking to two of my best high school teachers, who shared their experiences in this science with me.

Currently, I’m planning to continue my studies in New Zealand. This is another nice side of this profession: having the possibility to explore different parts of the world and study the flora and fauna.



After almost five years of owning the aquarium shop, I decided to go back into research. By that time there was an interesting offer of a master’s project on a campus of the National University in Yucatán, working with ecology and behaviour of symbiotic cleaner shrimps commonly found in the trade market, and their relation with their hosts and client fish.

After several hours’ diving in wonderful reefs I fell in love with the creatures and the environment, and decided that was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. At this stage of my PhD I don’t dive as much for my project, but never miss a chance to go and help other people with their work, or just for fun.

Your interests and passions:


I love to camp, and even though I am lazy at sports, I love to go for aquatic activities such as kayaking and swimming.


Anything related to water. Diving, snorkelling or just watching the sea, rivers, lakes and cenotes (it’s a must do in the Yucatán peninsula). In particular, I’m passionate about animal behaviour. I can spend a whole dive just watching a crab feeding or a goby cleaning its burrow.

(Cenotes: click here. You’re welcome.)


Your favourite water creature (yes, more than one is ok):


I guess octopuses, because they are really smart. And manatees,  as they are very affectionate.


The first prize goes to (by far) the octopus. Every time I ‘run’ into one I just stare amazed, at such a beautiful and bizarre creature, impressed by that intelligent gaze in their eyes. I always feel they know what I’m thinking.

(Awwww they have the same favourite sea creature 😀 )

Share a good memory with water**:


The first time I dived. I still can remember clearly the astonishment, and the feeling of being tiny in the water.


Since I was a baby, my family and I have gone camping at the beach. I have a memory about the first time I understood the vastness of the ocean. Since then, I’ve always wondered what mysteries are hidden underneath the apparent calm of the surface.


How does coloring in this piece of art feel? What do you think about this project?


I felt relaxed and it made my imagination flow, which I think is a part I neglect when I have a lot of work and feel stressed. That is why I think this project is really nice, as it makes you reconsider to take time, get distracted and use the imagination.


I really felt calm. It was like an oasis in the middle of days and days of lab work, and just what I needed to let go of the pressure of work and let the imagination flow. Not only that, but I loved the idea of getting not just people in academia, but the whole public to know the life around us and familiarize ourselves with it, as a first step to try to comprehend and take care of our neighbours of the sea.

 (Eds: happy tears and yay.)



Couples who play together, stay together. Hazel and Ali. A Carribbean Ocean Love Story. OceanInADrop.net

Couples who play together, stay together. Hazel and Ali: A Caribbean Ocean Love Story. OceanInADrop.net




**This question has been inspired by Dr Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind, and founder of the Slow Coast movement started by J and his wife, Dana, in California. Blue Mind shares the science that shows being in, or near water is really good for your brain.

We know we love water: seeing the sea, looking at beautiful beach photos, walking along the shore, swimming with fishes, and playing in the waves, make many people happy and feel free. This book shows how important it really is for your wellbeing. When chatting with people, J gets people to share their water stories.  “I wish you water.”

Free coloring-in for Ocean Lovers

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