Names matter. Words matter. They insinuate and symbolise things. They can form and shape history. They transmit messages and meaning to our brains: when you hear of a reef named Marion or a coral cay named Lady Elliot, I think there is an assumption that someone must have thought that this place was beautiful and unique enough to protect it.
Most people think because something has been protected, it is protected forever. While in theory, this should be case, it is not true.
George is in his 50s. He has never married, and never wants to marry. Well, not a human wife. He is married to the sea.
I remember thinking back to our expedition in Costa Rica; musing over how small I felt in the jungle as we slashed our way through overgrown pathways and how easy it might be to hide behind the impenetrable green wall, if you had the courage to keep your nerves quiet.
The trouble with following a story about people and nature is that often peoples’ schedules don’t match the cycles of nature and the weather.
We bonded with the President of Palau over Disney’s legend of Moana.
I was not sure how long I had been hovering there, wondering why these fish with their forlorn-looking stare had decided that I was worthy of becoming the centre of their social pack, but I tried as hard as I could not to move. I did not want to scare off my new fishy friends.
Up in the air, everything makes sense. A bird’s eye view truly is the best way to see for yourself how the land is connected to the sea. You can see what lies underneath the water - maybe a reef, or a kelp forest.
The weather was turning. The wind was picking up and the sea had become so choppy that it was impossible to see the blow of a whale.
I was sitting in a zodiac in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, feeling that same sense of excitement I had felt in Antarctica earlier this year - intuitively knowing that our encounter with the fin whales was not over yet.
The swell started off calm, but then strange smoky clouds of a mystical orange hue began to roll in, masking the distant sky. A slight chop developed as a brisk wind picked up. I decided to put on my jacket, so I could sit more comfortably on the deck of ‘The Pelagos’ with my eyes glued to the horizon.
Before we continue, it is a fair question to ask - what does a fancy cocktail party have to do with saving the world’s oceans?
It’s not everyday that you meet the great grandson of a great warrior king. I only discovered Brian Daga was a son of kings when I started asking him questions about human skulls.
A silver-haired woman with a warm gentle face approached us and proudly introduced herself as the nation’s first police-woman.
Moira never dreamed of becoming a chief as a child. She grew up going to church every day and every night, singing songs, and even writing some of her own. Like other girls in her village, she would garden and collect shells, and she would grow up to marry her husband and have four children.
Mary Jean was a teenager when she began working at a guesthouse owned by her uncle washing dishes and cleaning rooms. Often the guests would ask her what the underwater world was like, but she was unable to respond.
Jerome was a curious child. While exploring the shallows of the sea around his small island-home of Apo Island in the Philippines, he once touched the poisonous skin of large stonefish. He wanted to pick it up and take it home to eat. Instead, when he went to touch the stonefish, it released poison deep into his veins.
When Mario was 11 years old, there was no diving industry on Apo Island. There was dynamite and siren fishing, hook and line and net fishing. Everything in the ocean was free for taking – the sharks, the manta rays, the sea turtles, and even the sea cucumbers.
A young Antarctic fur seal perched on his two flippers moves his weight backwards and forwards as if ready for a fight. Then, he dips his powerful head and swings it around in a deep circle. He opens his mouth and he gives a lazy war cry, then sighs. His youthful wild eyes are locked on ours, but he seems too weighed down by his heavy weight of blubber to do anything more than pout. He is located at a reasonable distance away, about 15 or more meters away.
At the prettiest time of day, when the pink skies of March start turning to a greyish purple, this is when the One Ocean expedition guides begin to steer their black zodiac boats back to the mother ship. It is a time when you take a moment to be silent and to appreciate the sheer beauty of the wild and remote places of Earth that are still relatively untouched by humans, and it is also the time when you realise everything below 60 degrees south has intensified itself in terms of its attractiveness in your adventurer-filled eyes.