Long summer afternoons waiting for the next set to arrive; bright sunshine warming salty skin; tired legs dangling in cool blue water. Life is sweet out there, where worries fade, that sacred place beyond the breakers.
That’s how it should be anyway. For those of us who consider the ocean home, it has become increasingly difficult to enjoy it carefree. Plastic pollution, ecosystem degradation, overfishing. They are all taking their toll. Our blue planet is facing challenges it has never encountered before, its eons-old rhythm disrupted.
Why? Because of us.
But while we, as a species, may be the problem, we can also be the solution. Across the world, scientists, conservationists and explorers are doing their bit to return our oceans to rude health - along with hundreds of thousands of ‘citizen scientists’ and do-it-yourself beach-cleaners of course. Here are five such Ocean Defenders we think you should know about:
Paul is the expedition leader for National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project. His teams of scientists, conservationists and adventurers venture to some of the world’s most remote ocean destinations to assess the health of underwater ecosystems. He is also the Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society, was Base Commander on British Antarctica, and regularly presents on the BBC. When not working, he’ll likely be on one of his bikes: a Ducati or a penning farthing! Knowledgeable, passionate and inspiring, Paul is a man worth knowing about.
Find out more about him here: www.paulrose.org
And don't forget to check out his Instagram for some great shots of his adventures!
Ocean is a freediver, marine biologist and shark advocate. Co-founder of One Ocean Research & Diving, an organisation that collates data to better understand and protect sharks, Ocean’s focus is on rebalancing people’s interpretation of our blue planet’s most misunderstood creatures. She does this by taking people to interact with sharks, often for the first time - powerful first-hand experiences guaranteed to change perceptions. Based in Hawaii, big sharks are never too hard to find, which makes for a steady stream of both incredible images and powerful messages on her social media feeds. Check out her Instagram page, and prepare to be dazzled!
Find out more about Ocean and her adventures here: www.oceanramsey.com
If you want to see some cool shots of Ocean and some of her favourite creatures make sure you're following her instagram!
Just a couple of years ago, Matt was working full-time as a carpenter. He is now a world-renowned underwater photographer. Specialising in black and white photography, as seen above, Matt’s images are as beautiful as they are compelling. His subjects are predominantly large sharks and whales. Where sharks are concerned, Matt’s aim is to ‘replace fear with fascination’, highlighting the serenity of sharks and offering proof that they are not the man-eaters many believe them to be. Matt also hopes that by offering people a window into the world below - and affording them a greater understanding of the beauty that lies beneath - will encourage a greater sense of conservation and preservation.
Find out more about Matt here: www.mattdraperphotography.com
You'll find more of his awesome photography on his Instagram too, not to be missed!
Easkey is a big wave surf champion, scientist and social activist with a PhD in Environment and Society. Originally from Ireland she has travelled the world espousing the wonders of surfing and our oceans at large. Easkey is the founder of Like Water, an organisation that believes in the power of the sea as a medium through which we can freely express ourselves. Her mission is to get more people to connect with our oceans. As Easkey says, we all have saltwater in our blood.
Simon is one of the world’s foremost whale shark experts, a marine conservation scientist and a respected underwater photographer. Now a ‘professional nomad’, Simon spends most of his time in the field, producing important work on the largest fish in the ocean, striving for better understanding and better protection. His team was centrally involved in the whale shark’s global conservation status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species being listed as ‘endangered’.
Find out more about Simon here: www.simonjpierce.com
He's regularly posting about new findings on Instagram, so make sure you're following him!
What unifies these fine folk, other than their passion for the oceans? They are all columnists for Oceanographic Magazine, a new publication that’s all about ocean conservation, exploration and adventure.
The first issue of Oceanographic Magazine is available for FREE. If you’d like to read the above five Ocean Defenders’ columns FOC, you can sign up here and the digital issue will be emailed to you on release!
Happy surfing, and happy conserving!
If you want to become an ocean defender too, why not do your bit to help? From taking part in a #minibeachclean to reducing the amount of plastic you use, you can help too. We're working with Surfers Against Sewage to conserve the British coastline, reducing the amount of plastic pollution and damage to marine life. Check out our guide on How to Help here and lets work together to protect our oceans!