About Carlos & Allison Estape

Carlos and Allison Estapé are photographers, citizen scientists, and underwater naturalists. Our love for the sea has taken us all over the world and combined we have made thousands of dives in locations such as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Galapagos, Baja, Revillagigedos, Cocos Island, Panama, Micronesia, Indonesia, Australia, the Coral Sea, Fiji, the Indian Ocean and the Florida Keys. 
We are Citizen Scientists that photo document fish species in their natural habitat, collect geographical distribution data, publish our findings and images in scientific papers, and work with scientists to collect data and provide images for their research and publications. We are proud to be the #1 Citizen Scientist Contributors to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean website as well as for STRI's Fishes: East Pacific where we are co-authors of the the Spanish version. We have also authored/co-authored eight scientific papers, with more on the way.
Our current project is photo documenting fish species in the Tropical Eastern Pacific and Tropical Western Atlantic.  We currently returned from the Galapagos where we documented species bio-diversity by island for the East Pacific Corridor Alliance in conjuction with the Charles Darwin Research Station. In September of 2023 we coordinated and participated in a scientific expedition to the Midriff Islands in the Sea of Cortez and in November of 2022 we were part of the scientific expedition to the Revillagigedo Archipelago to collect and photo-document the biodiversity of the islands, including Clarion Island. During our stay in Bocas del Toro, Panama, we recorded a new fish species unknown to science. In 2022 we were the first to photo-document dozens of species in the Panamanian region of the Eastern Pacific. In July 2021 we documented a species in the Galapagos NOT KNOWN from the Eastern Pacific (Acanthurus mata), in fact the closest known range is 3,000mi/5,000km away! In June 2022 we co-authored a paper on the marine fishes of the USVIs where we photographed 27 fish species not known to be in these waters and in December 2020, we published our findings from St. Eustatius where we documented 40 fish species that had not been previously recorded  – a demonstration of the effectiveness of citizen science collaboration! 
We are Underwater Naturalists and Featured Speakers who have entertained and educated audiences on fish behavior and identification across a wide range of marine focused events, month long international festivals, museum and marine park programs, and monthly educational classes. We created the 100fishid educational website to promote citizen science by enabling divers, snorkelers and marine biology students to improve their fish id skills.

Our Images have been featured internationally in websites/apps, scientific publications, museums, aquariums, fish ID books, textbooks, children’s books, magazines, interpretive displays, restaurants, dive shops, private collections and more. 

We have been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution for our: 

  • “outstanding contributions… to the Smithsonian Institution’s research”,  
  • “exceptional talents as field photographers”,
  • “extraordinary work to capture images of live marine fishes in different parts of the Caribbean and Tropical Eastern Pacific”.  

The Smithsonian Institution considers our image library to be “a priceless heritage” that “will only become more valuable in the future as documentation of marine life today.”

Kudos from Dr. William Ludt, NHMLA. re Scientific expedition to the Revillagigedos Archipelago:


This trip wouldn't have been possible without Dr. Carlos Sanchez at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Dr. Ross Robertson, and also the tireless efforts of Allison Morgan Estape and Carlos Estape, community scientists and underwater photographers extraordinaire.

New species discovered during the expedition, Halichoeres sanchezi.

And from our St. Eustatius paper:

"However, the increase in numbers of shallow cryptobenthic species at Statia from 2017 to 2020 does show that organized searching by skilled citizen scientists can contribute substantially to knowledge of cryptobenthic species. The activities of CJE and AME added 33 shallow cryptobenthic species to the checklist, 31% of the total and 85% of the new records for that ecogroup in the 2020 fauna, and equivalent to 49% of the number present in the Statia17 fauna (Tables 1, 2)."

Scientific Papers (follow the links below to learn more):

Documenting Reef-fish Biodiversity in the Revillagigedos Archipelago, Pacific Mexico, November 2022 

An updated, illustrated inventory of the marine fishes of the US Virgin Islands
D. Ross Robertson, Carlos J. Estapé, Allison M. Estapé, Lee Richter, Ernesto Peña, Benjamin Victor

A review of 263 years of taxonomic research on Hypoplectrus (Perciformes: Serranidae), with a redescription of Hypoplectrus affinis (Poey, 1861) 

Acanthurus mata (Cuvier, 1829), Elongate Surgeonfish (Acanthuridae), newly recorded in the Tropical Eastern Pacific
D. Ross Robertson, Allison L. Morgan-Estapé, Carlos J. Estapé

The Indo-Pacific damselfish Neopomacentrus cyanomos at Trinidad, southeast Caribbean
Robertson DR, Kingon KC, Baksh S, Estapé CJ, Estapé AM (2021) 
Aquatic Invasions 16,  https://doi.org/10.3391/ai.2021.16.2.03

The marine fishes of St. Eustatius Island, northeastern Caribbean: an annotated, photographic catalog
D. Ross Robertson, Carlos J Estapé, Allison Morgan Estapé, Ernesto Peña, Luke Tornabene, Carole C. Baldwin;  ZooKeys 30 Dec 2020  https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.1007.58515

The fishes of Alligator Reef and environs in the Florida Keys: a 2020 update

Carlos J. Estapé, Allison Morgan Estapé & Walter A. Starck
Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation, Volume 36, 3 November 2020 https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4243097 

An update to the inventory of shore-fishes from the Parque Nacional Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano, Veracruz, México
D Ross Robertson1, Horacio Perez-España2, Omar Dominguez-Dominguez3, Carlos J Estapé4, Allison Morgan Estapé4 ZooKeys 23 Oct 2019  https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.882.38449

The fishes of Alligator Reef and environs in the Florida Keys:  a half-century update

Walter A Starck II, Carlos J. Estapé & Allison Morgan Estapé 
Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation, Volume 27, 29 August 2017;  http://dx.doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.851651

Underwater Naturalists / Featured Speakers

Smithsonian Tropical Research Center
, Panama, 2023

South Florida Underwater Photography Society featured gallery, September 2022

Panama Dive Center, Santa Catalina, Panama, 2022

Palapas Ventana Resort, Baja California Sur, Mexico 2021 

IKELITE featured gallery, 2021

The University of Trinidad and Tobago, 2021 online webinar

Charles Darwin Research Center, Galapagos 2021

Academy Bay Diving, Galapagos, 2021

Seahorse Festival
 & Great Fish Count Festival 2018-2019, CoCoView Resort, Roatan

100 Fish Behavior & ID Classes
, Monthly Presentations 2014–2019, REEF.org, FL

 2015, 2016 & 2018REEF.org, FL

REEF.org online Fishinars: 2015 - 2019

Delicate Balance of Nature Series 2014, 2017, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, FL

Immerse Yourself Lecture Series 2016, 2017, 2019
, History of Diving Museum, FL 

Ocean Life Public Seminar Series March 2016, Florida International University, FL

Our images have been used in:

Educational Websites:
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system & App

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institutes's Fishes: East Pacific online information system & app

Monaco Nature Encyclopedia website
; Dr. Guiseppe Mazza

Killi-Data Online, information on extant oviparous and viviparous Killies or Cyprinodontiformes

Scientific Papers, Educational Programs, Annual Reports:
The Evolution of Egg Trading in Simultaneous Hermaphrodites; The American Naturalist, Volume 195, Number 3 March 2020

How new species arise in the sea
; Tropicos, Pg 31, The Magazine of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

How some Fishes have Adapted to the Ocean;
 The Experts are Online, Smithsonian Distance Learning, May 2020

Long-term Monitoring at East and West Flower Garden Banks: 2018 Annual Report
, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

ECOLOGY: Aquatic animal telemetry:  A panoramic window into the underwater world,
 June 2015, Science 348(6240):1221

Educational Materials & Exhibit Signage
Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, OR – Won a National Outdoor Exhibit Award for a panel with our diving cormorant image

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, FL 

American Museum of Natural History, NY  

New York State Museum, NY  

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, CA 

Aquarium at Moody Gardens, TX

Apps, Books, Magazines, Newspapers
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Fishes: Greater Caribbean app

Easy Fish ID App
 by John Hoover

REEF Fish Identification Florida Caribbean, Bahamas (Humann/DeLoach), 

Newspapers/Magazines/Newsletters/Blogs: Ikelite Miami HeraldNatureKeys Dive TravelerScuba Diving, Alert Diver, Outdoor Fishing Magazine, American Fly Fishing.