My Ocean takes listeners on an adventure into the minds of some of the world’s true ocean champions and dives in to the remarkable ways they are protecting our blue planet. Each episode profiles a new personality, someone who has thrown convention to the wind and instead followed their own path to making a difference for the world’s oceans. Hosted by Alexis Brown.

Check back every other Thursday for a new episode or subscribe in iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play Music.

February 21, 2019

Ray Collins: Capturing an Ocean in Motion 

Ray Collins
Ray Collins

For years, Ray Collins earned a living in a place far, far away from the ocean – a coal mine. That all changed after a workplace injury left him physically limited. A knee in healing meant no working, no driving and little mobility. So he picked up a camera as a way to keep his brain engaged. His subject? The ocean’s waves. His portraits make time stand still, capturing a split second of motion and freezing it. The hope is, of course, is to make lasting impressions. But he also wants to make sure these photos don’t become historical snapshots of an ocean that once was. Instead he wants the beauty to stir something in us, and drive us all to protect its delicate balance.

Dive deeper:

Catch Ray in the documentary Fishpeople on Netflix and explore his photography here.

Instagram: Ray Collins

February 7, 2019

Dr. Amanda Vincent: Making waves with Project Seahorse

Dr. Amanda Vincent
Dr. Amanda Vincent

Decades ago, Dr. Amanda Vincent was newly armed with a PhD and travelling around Germany when she came across a billboard that changed the course of her life. On a sign lit up in a German plaza was a marketing tagline to remember: “Seahorses are the most valuable exports from the Phillipines to help men with weak tails.” It marked the beginning of a profound career working to protect the unique species from issues like trade and illegal fishing. And while the charismatic fish may have given her organization – Project Seahorse – its name, Dr. Vincent’s work doesn’t stop there. The seahorse’s ecosystems, and the other animals that share those environments, are high on the agenda too.

Dive deeper: Find out how to get involved with Project Seahorse here.

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Project Seahorse

January 24, 2019

Brian Skerry: Making pictures of a changing ocean

Brian Skerry
Brian in action

Brian Skerry remembers vividly the first time he put on scuba gear and was able to breathe underwater. Sure, it was in his parents’ backyard pool, but it was life-changing nonetheless. It’s a sensation he’s become intimately familiar with over the last 30 years as he’s built a laudable career as a photojournalist, with more than 25 National Geographic stories to his name. He’s even spent time below the surface with Barack Obama, shooting the first-ever photos of a U.S. president under water. There’s a passion that hasn’t wavered much over the years. What has changed though, is the ocean itself and with that, Brian’s drive to find a delicate balance between documenting human-caused impacts and reasons to be hopeful.

Dive deeper:

Here’s the photo of Brian’s assistant with a southern right whale as well as his picture of former U.S. President Barack Obama. Click here for his online portfolio.

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Brian Skerry

January 10, 2019

Jill Heinerth: Cave diving through Mother Earth

Jill Heinerth
Jill Heinerth diving

Growing up watching the Apollo missions, Jill Heinerth had one goal in mind: become an astronaut. But, as a young girl growing up in the 60s and 70s, the steps to becoming a female astronaut were not immediately clear, to say the least. So she looked inwards – and started exploring the depths of inner Earth, instead of outer space. As a renowned cave diver, Jill has been to places on this planet that few people have ever been. And, recognizing that fact, she’s using her platform to raise awareness about our need to protect the ever-important resource of water, hoping that “out of sight” (i.e. submerged in a cave) does not equate to “out of mind.”

December 6, 2018

Dr. Easkey Britton: Creating connection with the ocean through surf

Easkey Britton
Easkey Britton

Named for a famous wave break off the coast of northwest Ireland, Dr. Easkey Britton feels – perhaps unsurprisingly – most at home when surfing. Her family brought the sport to Ireland and she was on her first board at age four. Though she’s competed in – and won – many competitions, including the national championships five times, surfing evolved into something much more emotional for her. After becoming the first woman to surf in Iran, she travelled back many times to help local women experience surfing and the ocean for the first time. She’s now studying the relationship between human well-being and the ocean as part of a major EU research program. Her guiding light is one major question: how do we get everyone to have the same connection to the sea that she’s know her whole life?

Dive deeper: Watch Easkey’s award-winning short film A Lunar Cycle and the documentary Into the Sea, about her surfing in Iran.

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 Instagram: Dr. Easkey Britton

November 22, 2018

Dr. Emily Darling: The coding of corals

Emily Darling
Emily Darling

This is the story of what happens when you combine some of the planet’s oldest living and under threat organisms – corals – with some of the newest inventions of modern day society – coding and open source technology. At the centre of this story is Dr. Emily Darling, a conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). She specializes in coral reefs and, along with some of her peers, is helping shake up the traditional ways (read: publishing papers) that scientific knowledge is shared. Open-source technology, social media, code – these are the game-changing tools that will speed up collaboration in a race against time. And Dr. Darling is a key player in that game.

Dive deeper: Check out this video of Emily and her WCS colleagues sharing how GitHub is helping them work.

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 Wildlife Conservation Society

November 8, 2018

The Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson: Looking out for Canada’s lakes, rivers and oceans

Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson had a successful career in the private sector for many years before running for office. The catalyst came during lunch with a friend when Wilkinson got a gentle — but firm — nudge from said friend, who had been patiently listening to him for years as he voiced concern about the direction of Canada’s environmental policy. “What are you going to do about it?” the friend asked. And so began a journey to becoming a MP, being named Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and then on his current post as Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. He may only be a few months into the job, but his familiarity with and love for the country’s waterways dates back a long way.

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Minister Wilkinson

October 25, 2018

Chefs Ned Bell and Barton Seaver: Different coasts, same goal

Barton Seaver
Barton Seaver

Ned Bell, Ocean Wise executive chef, takes over the interviewer seat in our first-ever guest-hosted episode. His guest? Barton Seaver, a Maine-based chef and author of eight cookbooks, and one of Ned’s mentors. The topics? Sustainability versus restoration, wild versus farmed, food from land versus sea. And the result? An insightful, philosophical discussion of what our appetite for seafood has done to our oceans and what we as consumers on this planet can do to help turn things around.

Dive deeper: Check out these cookbooks and recreate recipes from Ned and Barton.

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Barton Seaver and Ned Bell

October 11, 2018

Eddie Donnellan: Bringing the joy of surfing to at-risk routh

Eddie Donnellan
Eddie Donnellan

Surfing has been part of Eddie Donnellan’s life for decades. Same goes for working in mental health. And a few years ago, Eddie decided to combine the two to create MeWater Foundation. It’s based in San Francisco and introduces at-risk youth from some of the city’s toughest neighbourhoods to the world of surfing. The physical challenge is just one small piece and Eddie’s goal instead is to empower these young people, to give them confidence and to introduce them to something that’s in their backyard but in a way is still so far away – the ocean. MeWater is entirely run by volunteers and while it was founded in 2015 its benevolent roots can be traced back to lessons from Eddie’s mom, a single mother with a love for helping others.

Dive deeper: Check out Eddie in the documentary Fish People on Netflix.

MeWater Foundation and Eddie Donnellan
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September 28, 2018

Dr. Martin Haulena (Part II): A lifelong love of animals

Dr. Martin Haulena
Dr. Martin Haulena

Dr. Martin Haulena has always been fascinated with animal life. He remembers being a young boy and coming across a dead snake while walking with his grandma one day – together, they paid tribute to its life and laid flowers on the animal. The passion for marine mammals, specifically, came a bit later after he touched a dolphin for the first time on a family trip to Florida. Today, the head veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium, an Ocean Wise initiative, is one of the world’s leading specialists on marine mammal care and his work includes rescuing and rehabilitating wild animals as well as caring for those at the Aquarium, all while helping researchers along the way. The passion never wavers, but the one thing that has changed over the years? How his work increasingly fits into a bigger, growing conversation about how our actions impact all the species around us.

Dive deeper: Learn more about the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and how you can help.

Vancouver Aquarium and Marine Mammal Rescue Centre
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September 13, 2018

Dr. Martin Haulena (Part I): Trying to save a wild whale

Dr. Martin Haulena
Dr. Martin Haulena. Photo Credit: NOAA

Off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, a dire situation is unfolding. The southern resident killer whales, part of an iconic species integral to the Pacific Northwest ecosystem, are endangered. Only 75 remain and no calf has been born and survived since 2015. Now, a four-year-old in the pod, J50, seems to be on the brink of death. Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at Vancouver Aquarium, along with a team of scientists, government officials and animal care specialists, have been monitoring the animal and devising a plan to help. Recently, Dr. Haulena successfully delivered antibiotics to the whale via dart gun. To the average person, it was an impressive feat. And same goes for the work he’s done with sea lions, disentangling injured animals who have packing straps wrapped around their neck – a death sentence without his help. But for the vet, it’s another step in his lifelong effort to protect the animals he loves so much and to remedy the impact that humans have had on them.

August 30, 2018

Zack Rago: Chasing coral

Zack Rago
Zack Rago

Zack Rago wasn’t never really supposed to be much more than a credit at the end of Chasing Coral, a documentary on Netflix about the plight of corals around the globe. He was a technician at a company making custom underwater camera equipment and their neighbour happened to be the production company making the film. The goal? Capture a stunning time-lapse of a mass bleaching event to show the world what is happening to our precious reefs, and the marine life that relies on them. The result? Well, you get the time-lapse, but it doesn’t come easily. You also get to ride along for Zack’s incredible journey as a young coral nerd from Colorado, a journey that he’s continuing post-film by educating fellow young people about his beloved ocean. Select music in this episode by Edward Cook.

August 16, 2018

Laurenne Schiller: Taking stock of fisheries

Laurenne Schiller
Laurenne Schiller

Tuna be or not tuna be? That is the question. It’s also the name of Laurenne Schiller’s Masters thesis on bycatch in industrial tuna fisheries. She’s a research analyst with Ocean Wise and a passionate scientist studying fisheries around the world and their management. She’s also the lead author on a new paper in Science Advances journal which found that the fish caught in the high seas is not contributing to issues of global food security. While her love of the ocean was born at a young age, it wasn’t until she was doing her undergraduate degree when she came across a certain book that her eyes were opened to the impacts of and overfishing on our ocean.

Dive deeper: read the paper in Science Advances here.

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August 2, 2018

Emily Penn: Skipper of an all-women movement

Jasveen Brar
Emily Penn

Hitchhiking in a car is one thing, but have you ever heard of hitchhiking on a boat? That’s what sailor Emily Penn did when she was 21 years old while trying to get from England to Australia to pursue a career in architecture. Spoiler alert: she did not become an architect. Instead, she went on to found eXXpedition, a series of all women voyages around the world that raise awareness about ocean pollutants. In particular, they want to get people talking about the unseen, like the toxins in plastic that’s entering the food chain. She’s especially curious about how it will impact female health in particular, and is collaborating with scientists from a variety of organization to study the water samples they’ve collected along the way.

Dive deeper: read up on eXXpedition and all their voyages here.

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eXXpedition and Emily Penn
Facebook eXXpedition and Emily Penn

July 19, 2018

Dr. David Ebert: finding lost sharks

Jasveen Brar
Dr. David Ebert

At 10 years old, Dr. David Ebert proclaimed to his parents that he would one day travel the world, get paid to do it and study sharks. Mission: accomplished. Now known as “Lost Shark Guy”, he’s visited more than 30 countries to study sharks that aren’t known or are often overlooked, and along the way has discovered and published over 40 new species of sharks and their relatives – skates, rays and ghost sharks. But his go-to spot for finding new creatures is often not the ocean itself but rather fish markets in foreign countries. What he expected to see in these markets was a potentially long list of lost sharks (check)! But what he didn’t expect, and what has been the most enriching part of it all, is the enduring relationships he’s built with fishermen around the world.

Dive deeper:

Check out our video with David and learn more about the 40 species he’s discovered.

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Lost Shark Guy

July 5, 2018

Jasveen Brar: pushing for polar awareness

Jasveen Brar
Jasveen Brar

After taking a trip to Antarctica four years ago, Jasveen Brar realized her calling: understanding and raising awareness about humans and our polar regions. Namely, how climate change is impacting people, communities, and the ocean in those places. Not many 23-year-olds know exactly what they want to do in life, but Jasveen is paving her own path as a determined advocate and young leader, who hopes to one day specialize in issues around climate change refugees. A top 25 environmentalist under 25 in Canada, Jasveen was also selected as one of 40 youth to participate in the first year of Ocean Bridge, a youth service program focused on oceans and created by Ocean Wise. Her main message to the older generation of climate decision and policy makers? Don’t underestimate the power of young people.

Dive deeper: read more about all 40 Ocean Bridge youth here.

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June 21, 2018

Orla Doherty: behind the lens of BBC’s Blue Planet II

Orla Doherty
Orla Doherty

Orla Doherty is a producer for Blue Planet II, the groundbreaking series from BBC that takes cameras to parts of the ocean where no human, let alone a TV crew, has ever been before. In one of her episodes, The Deep, she made history by taking a submersible a kilometre below the surface to the Antarctic ocean floor. Things she witnessed while filming this episode: a fish with a transparent head, sixgill sharks feeding on a dead sperm whale, and a methane volcano eruption. In another episode she explores the dire impact humans are having on our blue planet. Ultimately, it was a dive she did at age 30 that led her here. After seeing coral for the first time, her life was forever altered and her desire to protect the ocean forever ingrained.

Dig deeper: Watch the Blue Planet II prequel here.

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BBC Earth

June 07, 2018

Damian Foxall: a round-the-world race against plastic

Damian Foxall

Damian Foxall has sailed around the world not once, not twice, but six times with the Volvo Ocean Race. He’s a veteran of what’s known as the longest sport in the world and the pinnacle of ocean sailing, a nine-month adventure that visits six continents and crosses four oceans. He’s also a passionate environmentalist, working with the Volvo Ocean Race youth education program to teach students 6-12 about the ocean, sailing and plastic pollution. This year, some boats in the Race are helping to collect important data and sample of microplastics in the far-flung places they sail. It’s part of an ongoing effort by Damian and Volvo Ocean Race to reduce their plastic and carbon footprint while encouraging the cities and communities they visit to do the same.

Dive deeper: Learn more about the Volvo Ocean Race sustainability education program here.

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Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Volvo Ocean Race

May 25, 2018

Captain Liz Clark: Navigating our plastic use

Captain Liz Clark

After a chance encounter at a cocktail party in California, Captain Liz Clark was gifted a sailboat by a retired professor. The only catch – if you can call it that – was that he wanted to live vicariously through her as she sailed around the world. She spent more than a decade sailing and surfing her way through Central America and the Pacific Islands and doing her best to live sustainably. In a new memoir, Swell, Liz details her ocean adventures and the life lessons she learned along the way. Through platforms like her book tour and her role as a Patagonia ambassador, she’s sharing not just the challenges she has seen from plastic pollution around the world but innovative ways to address it too.

Dive deeper: Order Liz’s book from Amazon or Patagonia.

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Liz Clark and Changing Tides Foundation

May 10, 2018

The Hon. Catherine McKenna: When politics meets passion

Hon. Catherine McKenna

Two days into her role as Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, The Honourable Catherine McKenna was in Paris for the UN climate negotiations. She’s continued full-steam ahead since then to make Canada a leader in environmental policy, including changes to tackle ocean pollution. That includes a ban on microbeads, introducing an ambitious zero plastic waste charter for G7 countries and a record federal budget spend of CAD$1.3 billion on conservation (over five years). Clean waters are near and dear to her – as a mom and a lifelong swimmer who has been known to take a dip in the Arctic, she wants to ensure her children inherit a healthier planet.

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Catherine McKenna and Environment and Climate Change Canada

Dive deeper:
Got an idea on how to tackle the plastic problem? Visit this link to share it

April 26, 2018

Dr. Claire Simeone: Zoognosis – spread the word

Dr. Claire Simeone
? Bill Hunnewell

Dr. Claire Simeone is the first-ever veterinarian in the TED Fellows program, a select group of rising stars in various fields from around the world. This year, she presented not only a big idea on the TED stage but also a new word: zoognosis. It refers to sharing knowledge about health between humans and animals.Case in point: Dr. Simeone discovered a gel used on humans during cardiovascular surgery can be mixed with antibiotics to treat eye ulcers in sea lions. Her work as a vet feeds into her desire to leave the world a better place for her son. She had a health scare right after he was born and it clarified for her that life is too short to not do work that really matters for our planet.

Dive deeper:

Twitter Dr. Claire Simeone and The Marine Mammal Center

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Dr. Claire Simeone and The Marine Mammal Center

April 12, 2018

Chef Ned Bell: Cooking up a seafood movement

Ned Bell

Chef Ned Bell has worked in noteworthy kitchens across Canada and regularly collaborates with other world-renowned culinary stars. Over the last 10 years he’s dedicated himself to one simple cause — sustainable seafood — in an effort to address the issue of overfishing. In 2016, he left a (very) comfortable job at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver to become executive chef of the non-profit Ocean Wise seafood program, and his peers thought he was nuts. He once rode his bike across the country to raise awareness about sustainable seafood and says he wants to do it again. He’s a risk-taker and he knows it. Ultimately, though, he wants the real payoff to be healthier oceans.

Dive deeper:

Check out Chef Ned’s cookbook on Amazon.

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Ned Bell and Ocean Wise Life

March 29, 2018

Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier: In focus: photographers on a mission

Cristina Mittermeier

When Cristina Mittermeier once searched the term “conservation photography” all she found was info about how to preserve photos for museum display. Today, she and her partner Paul Nicklen are some of the most recognizable names in the field and are regular contributors to National Geographic – the magazine and Instagram feed. Together, they’ve amassed a social media following like few other photographers out there. They co-founded the organization SeaLegacy, whose mission is to create healthy and abundant oceans and they’re using their photographic prowess to tell critical stories about ocean life. Select music by Keian Sanjari.

Paul Nicklen

Dive deeper:
Check out the polar bear photos and video we talked about here.

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SeaLegacy, Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier

Twitter SeaLegacy, Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier

March 15, 2018

David Katz: Paying a price for plastic

David Katz

One of the reasons plastic is such a popular material is that it’s cheap. It’s also a key reason for why it’s wreaking havoc on our planet and especially our oceans. We simply don’t value plastic as we should, according to David Katz, CEO of The Plastic Bank, and so much of it is single-use. This is more true in the world’s poorer countries than anywhere else, where there isn’t the proper infrastructure to recycle it. So he’s paying residents in those countries to collect it and then selling it to large companies that want to be more socially responsible with their plastic use. It’s an innovative business model – one that’s making not only an environmental impact but an economic one too.

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The Plastic Bank

March 1, 2018

Simon Watt: The curse of cuteness

Simon Watt

The blobfish has been described in a variety of ways, from ugly to depressed-looking to an “anthropomorphised piece of colon.” Biologist and comedian Simon Watt founded the Ugly Animal Preservation Society to lobby for the “blobby” – as he affectionately calls it – and other aesthetically challenged animals that are facing various threats. Our love for all things cute mean the more homely creatures are overlooked, even though the very thing that makes them so ugly is also often what makes them remarkable.

Dive deeper:
Check out Simon’s podcast, Level Up Human, here.

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February 15, 2018

Jessica Schultz: Serving the oceans

Jess Schultz

How do you get from serving in Afghanistan to observing sea stars as they lose their limbs in B.C.’s Howe Sound? Just ask Jess Schultz. She’s a marine ecologist with Ocean Wise and has helped keep tabs on species old and new in North America’s southernmost fjord. Much of its wildlife disappeared after a copper mine fed waste into it for decades, and Jess is part of the team that’s helping revive this vital ecosystem. It’s all part of her drive to serve a purpose greater than herself, whether it’s her country or the ocean.

Dive deeper:

Click here to take a look at the Ocean Watch report on Howe Sound.

Twitter @EmeraldSeaJess

Karina Oliani: Diving in style

Karina Oliani
Photo Credit: Ale Socci

Our attention spans are shorter than ever so in order to get noticed, sometimes you have to do something that really makes a splash. Enter Karina Oliani, a Brazilian TV personality whose diving photos are the definition of “wow” factor. A doctor with a specialization in wilderness medicine, she has a thirst for adrenaline that has taken her up Everest (twice!) She’s also put on designer dresses and done a four-hour underwater photoshoot surrounded by sharks to raise awareness about humans illegally killing them. Next up: a photoshoot to take on plastic.

Dive deeper:
To see more of Karina’s incredible photos and videos, visit her website.

Twitter @KarinaOliani
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Dr. Wallace J. Nichols: Brain on water

J Nichols
Photo Credit: Jeff Lipsky

What is it about being near water that makes us so happy? Why do crashing waves have such a calming and meditative effect on our minds? Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is a marine biologist based in California. He’s a pioneer in studying the therapeutic effects of being on, above, under or near water and risked his reputation along the way because his ideas were so unconventional. J envisions a world where we might treat mental health not just with medicine but maybe a surf lesson too.

Dive deeper:
Check out J’s Indiegogo campaign for a documentary here.

Twitter @WallaceJNichols
Facebook @WallaceJNichols