The Journey to becoming an Ocean Ambassador

Mermaid Katie’s journey to becoming an Ocean Ambassador.

Did you know that the ocean is the heart of the planet?

💙 To be an ocean ambassador is more than just posting amazing images and using captivating words to write captions. It is a lifestyle and pledging every moment to spread love and information on why it is so important to protect it. I am extremely grateful to have been introduced to the ocean at an early age, I would also be lying if I said this path is easy. I would love for my voice to be heard and images to be seen for others to take in all the information given, this is something I pray for every day. As an ocean ambassador, I have pledged my life to create a space for others like myself to dive into education.

I became a PADI Openwater Scuba Instructor in 2014 and my life has never been the same. Every journey from that day forth has made, molded and shaped me as an individual. I have learned a great deal from immersing myself in this space, I have made endless connections with people who have become my friends for life. Most importantly a piece of my heart is engraved in every substrate I have scrubbed to outplant coral fragments from our coral nurseries. Growing up there weren’t many programs offered in schools nor as extracurricular activities, so heading to the beach was always a privilege and one I looked forward to time and time again.

Throughout my instructor career, I was constantly in search of representation within my community and by this, yes, I do mean “brown-skinned” women. This was something I had never found within the marine science field, but at the time I figured why not become that figure for others. I was capable of it and working at an internationally known dive shop gave me a great opportunity to do so. I decided that every day I went to work I would try to learn something new and to use my social platform to showcase my many adventures in the ocean. I often asked myself where was diversity, and where were the women. I made it my goal to educate myself as much as possible and while I wasn’t able to afford college my course director and my many supportive dive buddies encouraged me to continue my education. Now, I am a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Pro Underwater Photographer and Instructor, Shark Awareness Instructor and Conservationist, Reef Rescue Network Diver Instructor with 12 specialty instructor courses. Education is at the forefront for me, it is the reason I became a PADI Scuba Instructor. Recently I became a Shark4Kids Ambassador which has really taught me that children are the future of our oceans, through creating such programs information is passed on to their parents and in turn, the family is educated. 2020 has made me grounded in connection and projects with others who are also passionate about saving our oceans. My main goal for this year has been working with Zandile Ndhlovu, an ocean ambassador from South Africa, creating diverse ocean spaces for people of color. The list goes on! 

Underwater Photography started my career in the ocean, it was just something about photographing the many shades of blues and bringing depth to life. Most people who do not see the ocean every day, image, and video show what it truly looks like beneath the waves while creating a connection to a voice that speaks to our souls, because it gives us life. When I dive beneath, my mind is at peace, and I experience life with new meaning as I descend into the deep. All I can think about is “how can I show the world how beautiful this place is? How can I connect those who have never been underneath the waves the importance of marine life, corals, ocean education, the journey to protect, and the vastness of this world I call home? How can I educate them through film and imagery?” My main goal as a photographer is to stop time by capturing moments that are memorable and that make you want to immerse yourself in the ocean. Isn’t this why we become marine scientists, citizen scientists, scuba instructors, ocean enthusiasts, and ambassadors? To be stewards for this magical destination that inspires us, and brings us together by just a single drop.

Learning to live in and around the ocean is quite a journey, what we do today affects us all tomorrow. The ocean is not just a body of water with fish in it, It is so much more than any of us can ever explore or fathom. It’s vast and it holds the key to every breath you and I breathe. Life itself comes from this beautiful body of wet matter. It cares for us and yet we disrespect and suck the life from its being. This is why I believe in being the person that fosters a change and educates about why we need to change the way we think and act. This isn’t to be taken lightly, every day that goes by we contribute to fossil fuels, plastic waste, overfishing, pollution, global warming and it goes on. We care about such trivial things than what really matters, we spend insane amounts of money on material things rather than donating to science, nonprofits, or marine education.

What about living more sustainably or standing up and demanding going green? 🤷🏽‍♀️ We must start somewhere, no one wants to see the bad side of things. Many countries around the world are fully supported by the ocean through food to feed communities, tourism that provides jobs, and many other industries.  The Bahamas is one of them, and we are directly impacted by the actions others take around the world. Due to climate change, our environment is directly affected during hurricane season and in 2019 we were hit by hurricane Dorian. The Abacos and Grand Bahama suffered tremendously, it was devastating and will continue to leave us speechless. There was so much loss, (inserts crying sad face) and we must remember everything around us absorbs energy including our ocean. The Bahamas has suffered a climate injustice and we contribute so little to global warming. I do hope the impacts of Dorian are forever engraved on our hearts to remind us that we must come together as planetarians to stop this from happening again. We must work together if we don’t save our oceans and our planet who will?

Let’s be the change we want to see in this world. It can be as simple as taking shorter showers, I know right! The small things really do matter, but honestly, every little bit each and every one of us contributes goes a long way. Educate yourselves, take some time to research what you can do to live sustainability while protecting our oceans and our only home.  It’s not a very hard thing to do but we must start and be consistent in our goals towards change. Stand up, take action, write to your leaders, sign petitions lets really do our part to let those making the decisions know we stand for change.

“Our past, our present, and whatever remains of our future, absolutely depend on what we do now.” - Sylvia Earle

How can you become an Ocean Ambassador:

1. Share the Ocean with your friends.

2. Use reusable straws

3. Bring your own shopping bags to the grocery stores.

4. Reduce the use of plastics. (Dine-in don’t take out, Carry bamboo utensils, etc.)

5. Drink from reusable water bottles. (My Fave is Yeti Cups and Bottles)

6. Use less water when you shower. ( I usually turn the water in the shower off while I am lathering.)

7. Support of Marine Science Programs (Perry Institute for Marine Science)

8. Support of Non-Profit Organizations within your communities. (Bahamas National Trust)

9. Join Community Outreach Programs that are in support of bettering your communities.

10. Donate to Outreach programs for ocean education. (Reef Rescue Network)

11. Organize Beach Cleanups (this is my favorite, you can as a small group of friends or organize within your communities)

12. Sign Up for educational webinars and courses online (Shark4Kids, Free Online Coral Reef EcologyAngari Ocean)

13. Simply just have fun in the Ocean!

Thank you for your love and support, I do hope this blog post has brought you light and love and all things magical beneath the waves. xoxo Mermaid Katie Storr

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