Friday, 27 September 2013

Karli Drinkwater tells us what inspired her to become a Sea Champion:

"The sea fascinates, captivates and terrifies me. The moment I taste the salt in the wind, inhale that ripe coastal tang or hear the reassuring lapping of water and swooshing of the tide, I feel at home.

When I learned to dive a few years ago, my life changed forever. Witnessing the imagination of the underwater world and weightlessly experiencing our beautiful planet gives me a rush of calm and excitement every time. There is no feeling like it on earth. It’s impossible to look at the jewels of a coral reef or creatures that have been around for millions of years and not get a lump in your throat. How lucky we are to see such beauty.

But as much as it rejuvenates and restores the soul, the sea makes me nervous. Or more accurately, what’s happening there does. Pollution, overfishing and climate change are destroying the oceans. We are taking too much fish out, putting too much rubbish in and worst of all, we know that it’s happening. I became a Sea Champion with the Marine Conservation Society because I wanted to do something about it. I don’t want future generations to look back on us and ask why we didn’t care, why we treated our planet so barbarically, why we ravaged our natural resources and left them with nothing.

As much as facing the facts is oppressive and bleak, there is good news. We can turn it around. There is still time, but only if we all pull together and make change now.

Since becoming a Sea Champion, I have braved the cold and choppy waters of the English Channel to raise money for MCS; I have spread the message of eating sustainable fish at ocean events and have taken to Westminster with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, dressed as a neon orange crab, to fight for Marine Conservation Zones.

Being a Sea Champion is not only worthwhile, it’s a giggle and makes you feel like you’re making a difference. Conservation is action. So rather than feel down in the dumps about how much of a mess we’re in, the Sea Champions crew gives you the chance to meet like-minded people who also care deeply for the seas and want to make a change.

I have become so inspired from the Sea Champions scheme that I left my job as a producer in London to work on a marine conservation project in Thailand. For six weeks I worked on building artificial reefs, surveying underwater areas of interest and cleaning up beaches and dive sites with Eco Koh Tao. It felt empowering to be doing my bit every day. Through the hours of creating coral nurseries, building new structures or ticking off the amount of species indicative of that region on my underwater clipboard, I became peaceful.

At times, the more I learned, the more frustrated I felt. The reality of the situation hit me hard – hearing about the amount of reefs that are already lost or severely degraded; about the thousands of plant and animal species that are threatened with extinction; that millions of sharks are slaughtered for their fins every year, while the rest is thrown back in, all make you want to stick your head in the sand. But it’s time to cherish and protect. It’s time we all encouraged the next generation to question, to wonder and to become the guardians of the oceans better than we have. Without the oceans, we would not exist.

Becoming a Sea Champion isn’t just about saving the seas; it’s about saving ourselves."

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