How do you contribute to marine conservation? Professional Ocean Explorers

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!

image9.jpeg

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?

image1-4.jpeg

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. 

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. 
image5-2.jpeg

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. 

image4-2.jpeg

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.

public.jpeg

Hello and welcome to the Blue Generation!

First let me start of by saying a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has followed, supported, brought stickers and t-shirts, tagged, commented, shared all of our previous Shark Education Australia posts, this all started out with me wanting to find the best way to use my studies, experience, passion and all around love for the ocean to help protect it. From here I decided I didn’t want to use my science degrees to do my own marine research (not because I don’t like scientific research, I have HUGE respect for all those marine and wildlife scientists out there in the field conducting research and writing endless papers on what is happening to the natural world), I wanted to use the marine studies and findings already conducted inform those who might not understand what is currently happening in the oceans and get them to understand why we need to start protecting it.

I initially set this organisation up as Shark Education Australia because over the past few years as a conservationist I have had a big focus on shark conservation, but this wasn’t always the case. Growing up in Australia I was always surrounded if not not that far from the coast, and this combined with my love for animals and nature made me fall head over bare feet for marine animals, in particular marine mammals. I was your typical dolphin/whale lovin’ child who all I wanted to do was work with them when I grew up. This lead me to complete a marine biology degree and then further this with a masters in environmental science at university. However, while my love for cetaceans never diminished, when I found out shark populations had combined in total by 90% during my undergraduate degree, my shark conservation focus increased exponentially! I still wanted to study marine mammals, but it felt like there was hardly anyone focusing on sharks, so I decided to, and this is why my organisation’s focus was on sharks. 

Photo: Daniel Thomas Browne

Photo: Daniel Thomas Browne

However…I feel now there are heaps of amazing shark activists, conservationists, scientists and organisations that are doing AMAZING things for sharks, and while this new organisation will have a huge focus on shark conservation, I also want to include other marine issues such as climate change, plastic pollution, captivity and heaps more, that is why I have decided on the name Gen Blue, because we don’t need another Gen Y or X or Z, we need a generation focused on saving this big blue planet and the natural wonders it holds!

Our mission is still the same, conservation through education - we want to inspire the next generation to become ocean warriors and help protect the Earth from human activities by going to schools and delivering marine based scientific presentations and ocean based activities that all fit within the Australian scientific curriculum. We loved doing this as Shark Education Australia, but we can’t wait to talk about all things ocean with kids as Gen Blue!

Thank you again for all your support! Please feel free to DM us on insta or email contact@genblueau.com if you would like to chat to us more about what we do!

Kristy Hillas
(Founder of Gen Blue)

Some people that I need to thank that have helped me so much on this mission…

Rod & Felipe & the team at Panamuna Project for literally everything you have done to help me and my organsiation.
Madison Muller for your hard work designing all my shark t-shirts and always doing what you can to help me.
Daniel Thomas Browne for letting me use and share all your underwater photos for this website.
Drew Fant for all your shark photos you’ve let me use and share.
Sean, Madi, Reb, Jayde, Nicole and of course my mum for always giving me their advice and supporting me.
And everyone else who has tagged, commented, brought a sticker or t-shirt and followed this mission on mine! Thank you, thank you!

School student at the Climate March 2019, Coffs Harbour, Australia

School student at the Climate March 2019, Coffs Harbour, Australia

Kindergarden student learning about shark conservation in what was once a shark finning village, Fiji

Kindergarden student learning about shark conservation in what was once a shark finning village, Fiji

Founder Kristy Hillas, Taking 3 for the Sea in Fiji

Founder Kristy Hillas, Taking 3 for the Sea in Fiji

Madison Stewart wearing one of our shark t-shirts sold by Panamuna Project

Madison Stewart wearing one of our shark t-shirts sold by Panamuna Project

Kristy Hillas at a shark fishing market with Project Hiu in Lombok, 2018

Kristy Hillas at a shark fishing market with Project Hiu in Lombok, 2018

Artwork created for Gen Blue by Madison Muller

Artwork created for Gen Blue by Madison Muller