Over the past few months, many of us have felt a noticeable slump in our morale when it comes to matters involving the environment, climate and conservation. Our news feeds are flooded with devastating stories of natural disasters brought about by the effects of climate change, and it is tough to not feel demoralised, and like progress in these fields is slow. But in amongst the recent doom and gloom, there have been some remarkable ‘ocean wins’, and we are reminded that around the world there are researchers, educators, policymakers and everyday people hard at work to ensure a blue future for us all.
In the build-up to World Ocean Day 2022, we’ve celebrated these passionate ocean advocates, spreading their messages of inspiration and hope, to inspire others out there to continue with the positive work that they are doing.
‘My Octopus Teacher’ had hearts and minds spellbound during the midst of a global pandemic, while many of us were confined to our homes. Craig Foster’s story offered many an escape and had us re-evaluating our connection with nature through his story of an uncanny bond with an octopus at the tip of Africa. There is absolutely no denying Craig’s deep connection with nature and the ocean.
‘The ocean gives me purpose in life. I spend hundreds of days per year on shoots around the world striving to unlock her secrets. Sometimes she gives us nothing and we come back empty-handed, but every now and again our patience and tenacity are rewarded and we’re given a glimpse into the spectacles and mysteries she still holds secret, and that’s what keeps me going.
In the 25 years I’ve been diving I have seen places be hit hard by fishing or pollution or plastics, almost to the point where recovery seems impossible, but I have also been lucky enough to go to places that have been left alone for long enough and have rebounded beyond our wildest dreams. The ocean can and will recover, but the time to act is now.’
Pippa Ehrlich has made a successful career out of her dedication to sharing her deep passion and love for the ocean, in the hopes of connecting people to the ocean. She is the co-writer, editor, and director of My Octopus Teacher, a film that connected each of its viewers to an underwater world experienced by a few.
Often when I talk about the ocean, I talk about why it’s important: the home it provides for animals and the way it keeps our planet functioning.
The truth is that sometimes when you are underwater, you are so overwhelmed by the intrinsic beauty of that space that you forget about all the heady logic of marine conservation. A couple of months ago I had the incredible privilege of freediving in the seagrass beds of St Joseph Atoll. This near-pristine patch of habitat is abundant with sharks and turtles and rays and all sorts of predatory fish. It’s completely overwhelming and hard to look at individual animals when what you are really seeing is this complex, perfectly put-together miracle of ecology. It was also late afternoon and between holding my breath and watching the light dancing through the surface, I was utterly entranced. At times like this, you dissolve into the water around you and it’s almost like the ocean is coming to life inside of you: a kind of pre-embryonic state where you can’t tell where you end and the seawater begins.
There are many reasons to love the ocean, but for me, it’s deeply personal moments like this when that love beats strongest.
Co-founder of MISS (Minorities in Shark Science) – a group of Black female shark researchers promoting diversity and inclusion in shark science – Jaida works to encourage women of colour to push through barriers and contribute knowledge in marine science.
Jaida is also well-known for her TikTok content where she uses humour to educate the general public on the incredibly biodiverse and intriguing world of shark science.
Chris uses his art to create connections and aims to portray some sort of energy-filled capsule of a moment. An “object” still possessing life, simply because life went into it.
The mural captured here was painted in support of the “Oceans Not Oil” campaign, which was successful in halting Shell and their seismic testing of the West Coast of South Africa for oil.
– by Chris Auret
In the Ocean,
Singing with the Whales,
Swimming with the Dolphins,
Way beyond the veils
Of utmost illusion
Swaying in and out
of varied dis-solution
i will be Formlessly Floating,
Trusting the Water
to carry me.
Dr Nadia Rubio is the founder and director of Mar Sustentable Ciencia y Conservación, A.C., a non-profit organisation that works to conserve marine life in Mexico’s Caribbean waters and to conserve coastal habitats and biodiversity for healthy and sustainable human livelihoods.
Our Ocean is our Heritage.
Our Heritage needs protection, but how can we help?
We can help by creating safe ocean spaces, for our youth, by helping to provide them with the ability to access the Ocean as needed, by opening the doors for them to experience our Ocean safely, and by being willing and open to share whatever we learn. This is how we can help to develop future Defenders Of The Blue.
With all her life, our Ocean now more than ever needs all the help she can get. Being under extreme pressure from human and natural effects, we need to do whatever we can to help. No action is too little. Every little thing we do makes a real difference
I believe that only once we learn about our Ocean will we fall in love with her, and only once we love our Ocean will we want to protect her. This is why I have started hosting open day snorkelling events, totally Free for all, inviting anyone who has never snorkelled before just to come and try it, experience it, and spark interest and love for the Ocean as so many of us have.
A massive THANK YOU to everyone that took part in our #ReasonsToLoveTheOcean campaign. We have loved sharing these inspirational stories and unique perspectives, and we hope you felt encouraged to continue doing your bit for our blue planet. Join us, wherever you are, in celebrating and supporting our oceans for World Oceans Day.