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The Waterlust Blog

Let me start with a pre-emptive denial that my request below to you readers is a slacker move to avoid conjuring up an original and creative perspective on a well-trodden subject: the irrationality of human-environment relations.
So picture this, you finally get a chance to escape quarantine, bags are packed and it’s time to head to the islands for essential sea, sun and sandy beaches. Everything is pretty much perfect except you get there and you’re greeted by mounds of seaweed on the beach and it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t also floating in the water nearshore. Can you picture it? ... Not ideal is it?
Typically, SCUBA diving is peaceful and quiet. The only sound is your own breath. But on that day, in the idyllic marine habitat off Miami Beach, the very reef that makes this part of the world iconic, was darkened with swirling sediment clouds.  The ocean floor was gray and flat -- the reef looked more like a moonscape than a vibrant and functioning ecosystem.
As a science communication brand, I think we have a responsibility to make it clear that all are welcome here. You can be an environmentalist and also be fiscally conservative. You can eat seafood and also advocate for animal rights. You can commit yourself to helping end global warming and still fly in an airplane or eat a hamburger once in a while. Solving complex social issues doesn’t require an all or nothing attitude because most of us live somewhere in the middle.
One person may not be able to change the world on their own, but they sure can inspire others in their community with a strong message and mission. The more communities and individuals take this approach, the more they add up to make a global impact.
I remove hooks from my sharks the same way I want to remove a thorn from my pup's paw. It is the same desire to alleviate the pain of someone I love. I collect them one at a time, and collectively they change people's perception of sharks as creatures who can feel, fear, and hurt.
Systemic change is needed urgently in all sectors of society where racism pervades. Academia is no exception and the need for change is high. This is not just a university or departmental issue, it is at its core a matter of people treating other people with dignity and respect, and reversing waves of inequality that have been entrenched in our educational system for centuries.
It is more important than ever to focus on experiential learning opportunities so that this critical component of education is not lost. I hope that this piece, and the accompanying resources, can help everyone find non-traditional ways to ease the educational burden during this stressful time.
Can we, as creators, painters, drawers, makers, dancers, singers, thinkers and writers help connect the people and move the environmental impact this world is facing in a more positive and sustainable direction?
I work in Aquaculture. When I tell people this the most common response is “Aquaculture… but isn’t that bad?”. Not everyone asks this, but the sentiment is certainly the most common. “I thought you were saving the oceans or something”, might come from people who knew me when I was an undergraduate focused on marine conservation.
My name is Conor Smith, and like everyone, my life has changed dramatically in recent months. My fiancé, Stephanie, and I live aboard our sailboat full time and had plans to be logging 2000 nautical miles (nm) under her keel by the summertime. Instead we are seeking isolated anchorages in the remote Bahamas to remain safe during these unsure times. We are looking to minimize exposure to other people and have a war-like mindset to reduce our consumption of supplies and fuel to extend the working life of everything we have aboard.
Charlie Enright is a professional sailor and ocean advocate. Having logged over 300,000 miles in offshore sailing with two laps around the planet, he is no stranger to self-isolation and social distancing. As the skipper and leader of competitive sailing teams, he’s become skilled at assessing risks, managing crises, and adapting behaviors to improve performance.
Waterlust’s animal print legging, rash guards, and board shorts have been described as “sustainable products to support marine science research and education”. But could they be described as a dinner bell for sharks? That’s a question that the Waterlust team receives a lot, and they asked me, your friendly neighborhood shark scientist, to answer it.
Humanity’s response to Coronavirus offers a once-in-a-lifetime teachable moment, especially as it relates to the environmental crisis, a blanket term I use to categorize everything from ocean pollution to species extinction to global warming. Now before you jump to conclusions and write me off as an opportunist trying to relate their seemingly unrelated cause to this global pandemic, hear me out.
Like most people around the world, I am spending today at home. The global pandemic of Coronavirus has turned daily life upside down, and we all must adapt. While we all are deeply affected, I find myself thinking a lot about students, the youth that have been separated from their amazing teachers and forced to proceed with their education virtually. As a marine biologist, I know there is no substitute for the sounds, smells, sights and feeling of the ocean. Being stuck staring at screens instead of going on field trips is an educational tragedy. But it is what it is, and I’d like to help.