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A 4-day travel from sunset to sunrise

A 4-day travel from sunset to sunrise

Waking up that 4th of June knowing that all of the ‘things-to-do’ on my list were checked and done, knowing that I had already seeing or spoken to every one that I was going to miss; was the moment I finally realized that I was about to start a life changing adventure. Even though I was, and am, completely committed to living every single moment with an open heart and savoring each second; my stomach was full of butterflies, the type that ensured me that this was meant for me at this moment in life.

5 planes, 7 cities and 3 continents in 4 days were the beginning. A long trip I would take knowing that it was going to be totally worth it in the end. Life takes you to places you would’ve never imagined before. If someone would have asked me 10 months ago, when I was starting to do my Master program, where would I end up doing my internship; not even in the wildest guess I would say: sitting in the bean bags of MCP (Marine Conservation Philippines) installations down in a small town called Zamboanguita. The only thing that I knew for sure was that my new path was going to be directed towards marine conservation, I knew that finally I was going to be working towards making a difference in an area that I am passionate about. That was the initial purpose of pursuing the Masters, to get me closer to conserving the ocean and everything around it; something that I have wanted to do for a long time.

One aspect that has been present through all the process of getting here, applying for the internship, living here; is how it has all flowed so naturally from the beginning. It just felt right.

It just kept getting better during my first office day, the 2 main words that were presented to me (as part of the Reef World mission statement) were: “inspire and empower”; from now on everything that I do has to reflect these words. But now I can see that these words are coming directly to me, and what all this experience entails. Just during the first three weeks of being here I’m already feeling completely inspired by the work that has been done, by the passion it has been done with and it’s starting to make me believe, even more, how I can contribute, empowering my own aptitudes.

Definitely, I am starting an adventure full of passion, showing me that work done from your heart transforms into a totally new concept of work. So many things are changing; ways of perceiving life, starting from where the sunrise and where the sun sets.  

Why bother ?

I am often asked and even questioned by my friends and family back in Bristol, UK (you know who you are…) “Why on earth are you battling this uphill struggle?” Someone has even said which was very kind, “You are an educated guy, surely you know you are not going to change the world or make any real difference?” Maybe true… but here is how I look at it …

It’s about everyone pulling their weight. Sure, some celebrity driving a Toyota Prius isn’t going to reduce carbon emissions on a dramatic scale but surely people can see that if everyone in the States for instance was driving a Hybrid car, the carbon emissions would be lower! Actually this isn’t the greatest of examples as the majority of electricity is produced using fossil fuels but I hope you see my point.

So why Marine Conservation? There are many serious issues in the world today that affect millions of people on all sorts of different levels. Hunger, disease, war, persecution, poverty and even large scale natural disasters. Regardless of the serious plight of one person against another in any part of the world, there is one thing that all of mankind can safely say they share in common, and it’s not that we all go to toilet at least once a day! Yes, we all rely on the Earth we live on for our sustained existence. It’s a bit of a bummer but if we don’t look after the place we live on then we are in for a bit a tough ride.

The point is we are all dependent on our planet which differs to the other planets out there in our solar system in one major way. We have a hell of a lot of water, about 70% to be more accurate. The very land we live on, tropical rainforests, even tundra, are all important places habitats that we terrestrial species are very familiar with and have relied on for a long time. We know a lot about it and therefore we see the importance of preserving it. However, that other 70% is kinda important too.

If we manage to trash the seas through various methods and degrees of damage we are in for a hell of a bumpy time. The marine environment (including the coastlines) is responsible for absorbing more than half of the carbon in our atmosphere. Don’t just take my word for it:

Out of all the biological carbon captured in the world, over half (55%) is captured by marine living organisms. Some marine habitats are particularly good at this job. Mangroves, seagrass and saltmarshes might only cover 0.5% of the sea bed but account for more than 50% of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. (Nellemann et al., 2009)

It is also estimated from Woodroffe C.D. (2002) that “as of 2002, over half of the world’s population was estimated to being living within 60km of the coastal shoreline.’ This means as a race we are highly dependent upon our coasts for our livelihoods.

So I figure that this resource is of critical importance to our survival, plus I think it’s pretty awesome too ... sure one person bringing their own plastic bag to the supermarket doesn’t change a lot, but if we all did it …

I’ll end this little (ahem) blog with a well known story someone who is quite close to me, who has a big day coming up, (!) told me when I was much younger than I am now. It’s about two people walking on the beach when they come across thousands of Starfish washed up on the shore due to some reason, (I predicted from a large storm surge!). One of them picks up a Starfish and throws it back into the sea. The other person says “What you doing that for. You’re not going to make a difference, there are thousands” To which the other person replies …

“It does to him!”