In high school Byron liked to extreme snorkel the beaches and coves of Laguna Beach with his best friend looking for fish to spear. As soon as Byron reached 18 he enrolled in a Scuba diving course and from there it was game on. As a college student he studied marine science and became scientific dive certified. Byron did research work writing a paper on predator prey relationships between a wrasse and sea urchin. He lived on Catalina Island giving him the opportunity to get into the water every day for work and fun. He took full opportunity of the access to one of California's most pristine marine reserves.
After college Byron wanted nothing more than to work in the scuba diving industry. He got his first real job as the first employee at Eco Dive Center in Culver City, Los Angeles. The shop was new and Byron ran the entire retail operation. He answered phones, while filling tanks, and selling retail gear. As an instructor Byron taught on the weekends and worked in the shop during the week. While it was hard work it was possibly his favorite job ever. But the lure of academia and his education pushed him to move on to becoming a marine scientist.
Byron worked at Marine Biology Consultants in Costa Mesa, California. The work was mundane and required working from 6pm to 6am at various power plants. Byron got red-badge approved and worked at San Onofre nuclear plant which was unlike anything he had ever seen before. He performed surveys, counts, and harvested gonads from stinky dead fish. In the lab Byron performed exciting tasks such as data entry and finding various larval shrimp and worms in sand. On his days off Byron was beginning work on Biofuel. Byron wanted to make a difference in the world and consulting work was not cutting it. Byron figured out how to collect waste vegetable oil and turn it into biofuel. His business would then deliver the refined fuel to people's homes where they could refuel without having to visit the gas station. The business really took off. He had a waiting list of 200+ clients. Knowing he needed to expand the business infrastructure to make it really successful Byron hesitated. Academia called again.
Learning that there isn't enough vegetable oil in the world to power everything he decided to go back to his marine bio roots. Learning about the power of algae to grow and produce oils at many times the rate of even the most productive land plants Byron decided to jump into algae-biofuel research. After making a few calls he found a Phd who had just written a paper on how to grow fuel from algae. The Phd was Mark Huntley on the Big Island of Hawaii. When Byron asked if he was taking on graduate students he said "No, but I am looking to hire people for my new joint venture." Byron was hooked. He ended up being the 5th employee at this new joint venture between Shell Oil and a local company eventually named Cellana. After working intensely for 3 years the project grew in size and scale with multiple labs all over the americas and over 55 employees in Kona itself. Then Shell Oil decided it no longer wanted to pursue algae fuel. At this point Byron decided it was time to do something with the business. The company needed to become profitable fast. He urged managment to pursue neutraceuticals and high value products. They understood but the academic culture was reticent to change and new next to nothing about running a company with a business mindset. Byron saw it coming and eventually the company laid off almost it's entire workforce and eventually dissolved.
Byron took advantage of the beautiful clear waters of the Kona coast. Diving on weekends he was taking a co-worker diving at 2-step also known as honaunau. It's a popular spot for freediving. As he was getting out of the water with his dive group he saw the most magical sight. A Freediver emerged from the water. Her smooth skin suit glistened in the sun as she clutched her monofin which looked like a mermaid tail. At that moment Byron knew he wanted to do that. Soon he was diving with freedivers on the lines in Honaunau. As he was diving his comfort level allowed him to push and with no formal training he soon blacked out. He awoke and soon realized he had been given a rescue breath by what is now his wife and freedivng champion Jessica Wilson. Byron and Jessica went on to train and adventure. Jessica still holds the US national record
for static apnea at 6:35. She and her mother won numerous national and international awards at the many competitions they attended over the years.