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The Waterlust Blog

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. 
Standing along the banks of a small stream and watching sockeye drag themselves over rocks to reach their home while getting predated on by bears, eagles and gulls was an impactful moment I’ll never forget. These weren’t just fish, they were intelligent, tenacious, and fearless animals that refused to quit. Their struggle and fortitude was equal parts depressing and inspiring. But above all, it made me want to work harder in my own life and I loved them for that.
When we decided to start manufacturing clothing years ago, we had an initial goal of doing no environmental harm. As a company, we existed to communicate science and help solve the environmental crisis and thought it would be extremely hypocritical if we didn’t practice what we preach in our own business. How hard could it be? 
I had a safe career working in the fashion industry in New York City; a steady salary and a tangible trajectory at a great company. And then I quit. I hopped in my car, jam-packed with all my belongings (sans a few boxes of pencil skirts, heels, and other corporate attire that would end up stored at my parents' house indefinitely) and headed south for Miami to help launch an environmental clothing startup.
My hand hovered over the trackpad as I contemplated the repercussions of the impending decision: to buy a plane ticket to Australia or not? It was Thanksgiving 2011, my second year as a PhD student, and I had been invited to film an interesting field experiment on rip currents down under.

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