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Thoughts of ocean influencers and heroes

If you were fortunate to holiday or live by the shore as a child, you may have spent long days searching slippery rock pools for super-fast crabs and tiny fish - each pool a different colourful world inviting exploration.

You may remember that weightless, snorkeling feeling, floating above a wonderfully mysterious fast-moving scene. Albeit blurry in your foggy, leaky mask, but so interesting and… just out of reach.

Trying to stay away from the oyster-sharp rocks. Being told more than once ‘it’s time to get out’. Pruney fingers and toes. Oh, and mastering how to run in your flippers. All nostalgic memories by now.

Or perhaps you were tumbling about in the surf zone determined to make it past the break, to stand up and ride in like the others.

Whether in the 60’s or more recently, for many of us, so began of a lifelong connection with the ocean.

Ask any baby boomer who or what most influenced their early interest in marine life and most probably, quick as a fish, you’ll hear “Jacques Cousteau”. Often the answer is Sea Hunt or Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo and the Nautilus.

Was our childhood a precious moment in our time (and in Western culture) when modern-day explorers, adventurers and pioneers were broadcast into our living rooms each evening and everyone watched and embraced the new way of visual storytelling? The era of Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, Walt Disney, Sea Lab and Apollo 11.

We flicked through the rich, glossy National Geographic magazines in dentists’ waiting rooms. We imagined seeing the underwater world through David Doubilet’s eyes. We aspired to be just like him.

The BBC channeled the gift of Sir David Attenborough into our hearts and minds. If you’ve had the privilege to see him speak live on stage how could you not weep with love and gratitude for his lifetime of curiosity? And speaking of curiosity…

“Every explorer I have met has been driven—not coincidentally but quintessentially—by curiosity, by a single-minded, insatiable, and even jubilant need to know.”

― Jacques-Yves Cousteau, The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus: Exploring and Conserving Our Natural World

We were captivated so thoroughly by the perfect combination of curiosity and great storytelling, and we’ve been fortunate.

But what’s in store for generations to come? It seems authenticity, integrity and gravitas are harder to find these days. We can only hope that today’s influencers are cutting through the digital hot mess and celebrity nonsense and are captivating children’s imaginations with the real-life wonder of being in the ocean.

While we ourselves continue to treasure our ocean connections, let’s do what we can to nurture future ocean lovers. Let’s take our young ones to the beach or the seashore and fill their minds with wonderous facts and stories they’ll remember. Keep exploring, whether it’s beachcombing, messing about in rock pools, snorkeling, or scuba diving! Share the childhood dream you still remember, where you could breathe underwater and thanks to Jacques Cousteau, you can.


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