One of the big things we want to inspire at Gen Blue is that it isn’t only a marine science degree that you need to take to be a part of marine conservation. While we believe marine science/biology is an amazing pathway and something that is vital to marine conservation, we want to stress to the next generation that it isn’t the ONLY way to make an impact or to create change!
So on this note, we have decided highlight a few people that are helping the ocean in their own ways!
To start this off we are hearing from Dylan Boag and Lara Hindmarsh, ocean conservationists and owners of Woebegone Freedive in Jervis Bay, NSW.
Do you remember your first experience in the ocean?
The Ocean is a part of life growing up on the South Coast of NSW. Most of my life has been spent around the ocean. The rush from catching my first unbroken waves on my uncles surfboard, the first shark seen underwater on scuba and passing 40 metres and a group of scuba divers on a single breath were pretty unreal moments.
What is your favourite diving location?
Steamers headland in the Jervis Bay Marine Park is one of my favourite places. Its only accessible by boat as it is at the base of a towering sandstone cliff. Deep crystal clear waters meet the cliffs and a sea cave that is home to a small colony of fur seals. There is also a little known cleaning station on the point where we have sighted manta rays when the warm currents are running close to land. We were blessed to interact with two orcas underwater at this spot. This location has a lot of significance to the local indigenous owners and has a raw and powerful energy.
What do you think is the most important issue facing our oceans at the moment?
The oceans face some big challenges, but I believe that the root cause of these problems is rapid human population growth with an insatiable appetite for money and material goods at the expense of everything else. Unless there are some serious behavioural and societal changes, nothing can be done to save us. It’s important to keep in mind that the human race will die before the ocean does so it’s in our best interest to look after it.
We started Woebegone Freedive, as we were sick and tired of working for unscrupulous dive operations and putting our morals and ethics on hold in order to pay our bills.
Tell us about your freedive business and the story behind it? How you aim to use it to help marine conservation issues/inspire others to care for the ocean?
We also recognise the healing potential of the ocean and connecting with the natural world. In this day and age, we believe it is essential, even for our own mental health. We also see it as a platform in which we can educate the public on the importance of the oceans for our survival and how we are intrinsically linked with its health. We are also trying to demonstrate that it is possible to observe and interact with marine life in their own environment, instead of amusement parks and aquariums, and the experience is much more profound and humbling especially when a large sea creature decides it wants to interact with you.
What current projects are you working on at the moment?
We have recently partnered with Sea Shepherd Dive; we donate monthly to their campaigns. Our personal values and ethics correlate to Sea Shepherds code of conduct. Sea Shepard promotes respectful interactions with marine life and a plant based diet on their vessels, as do we.
We are currently campaigning to the local council to install a recyclable cigarette butt disposal unit on the wharf in Huskisson where we picked up 1860 cigarette butts in an hour as part of a clean up. Something as small as a cigarette disposal unit can make a huge difference in our town as we rely on the health of its ecosystem to bring in tourism.
To try and offset some of the carbon produced during our 3 day Freedive course we have started planting a She-Oak tree for every student. These native trees will one day provide habitat and food for the endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo which has suffered tremendously from habitat lose and help rehabilitate a neglected reserve outside the back of our house. We follow the permaculture principle small and slow solutions.
If you could give any advice for any the next generation of marine conservationists/divers what would you say?
To the next generation we give an urgent call to action. Don’t be complacent; your lives depend on it. Trust your instincts; be grateful, humble and respectful. Question everything and be the master of your own destiny.
If you want to see more of their adventures give them a follow on Instagram or check out their webpage for information on their tours of Jervis Bay.