In fact we believe that what is dying is the ocean as we know it, and another kind of environment is going to take place.
My husband Alcides Falanghe started to dive in 1976. I, Tatiana Zanardi, took my Open Water course in 1995. He is a professional underwater photographer and NAUI instructor, and I am a videographer and NAUI rescue diver. Alcides has been contributing for almost 40 years to the growth of the Brazilian diving market. He has extensive experience in dive training, tourism, photography and media. An industry pioneer, he was the first dive travel wholesaler in Brazil, as well as the first Brazilian photographer to be awarded the CMAS Underwater Photography World Championship and to be nominee to Hall of Fame Dema Award. He also was the publisher of Brazilian Scuba Magazine from 1995 to 2003 and of Mergulho Magazine from 2004 to 2014.
I worked for 20 years for the largest publishing house in Brazil and developed my career in the areas of technology, marketing and education. I have produced and launched several videos for the Mergulho Magazine website, Bonaire Tourism Board, Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, and Project Ocean Alive including 3D underwater videos.
Since we have submerged for the first time we have been watching to a fast and incredible change in the marine life. The decrease of number of fish, marine mammals and other species is visible everywhere. The coral reefs are dying and the consequences can be a disaster. In fact we believe that what is dying is the ocean as we know it, and another kind of environment is going to take place. In the Caribbean we can see now seaweeds taking place of corals and lion fish exterminating other fish, for example.
The major concern to keep the ocean alive with the perfect combination of conditions is that within this environment the human specie can survive. If in the future a new combination of conditions results in more or less oxygen in the air, for example, the human specie will not be able to survive. The fish stocks are being reduced year by year at the same time that the global population is exploding. Many places where we used to dive 20 years ago surrounded by big groupers, school of barracudas, caves crowded by lobsters, huge sponges everywhere, now are becoming a desert of life. We see just a few small fish, broken or dead corals, occasionally a lobster or a turtle. We need a balance in the marine environment, and that is changing.
On the other hand, when we talk to non-divers or to people used to get seafood in the supermarket shelves, we realize that most of them don’t have a clue of what is going on. For them the ocean is still beautiful, at least above the water. As they don’t see what is going on underwater, they just imagine an infinite supply of fish and food. Even beginner divers are amazed with the beauty of the ocean, as they don’t have a reference from the past and don’t know how it used to be 20 years ago.
In 2009 we decided to do something different and change our lives completely. We would buy a catamaran in the Caribbean and start a circumnavigating expedition to dive and document the marine life and the changes that are happening. We made a plan, worked hard and achieved it. We didn’t have oceanic sailing skills at that time, so we took navigating courses and became amateur captains in Brazil. In the beginning of 2011 we sold our apartment in Sao Paulo and in March we moved to a catamaran in BVI. A long time ago Alcides interviewed Peter Hughes and he said: “divers are the ocean eyes”. That’s why we named our boat “Ocean Eyes”. Since then we have sailed the eastern Caribbean, the Dutch Antilles, the off coast islands of Venezuela, all the way up to the Bahamas and Florida, navigating more than 5,000 nautical miles during these years.
We have decided that as divers, photographers and videographers, with expertise in journalism as well we should work to make people aware about the importance to keep the ocean alive. Not just showing the bad things that are happening, but also what we could do to prevent them and to restore the marine life. We believe we have to be positive about the future and focus in action and solutions. We also believe that it’s important to show different points of view, different solutions for the same problem, so each person can make their own conclusions.
Having this in mind, we created the project “Ocean Alive” based in 3 fundamental stages: discover, document and divulge.
- Experience: Guests can have an opportunity to experience the life on board enjoying nature, diving and sailing in Caribbean waters. We compare our boat to planet Earth, with limited resources that must be used consciously, like water, electricity and disposal of garbage. We dive with them and emphasize the changes the ocean is suffering, bringing awareness about simple problems like plastic bags eaten by turtles, over-fishing and invasive species like the “lion fish” – that is part of the menu on-board instead of groupers and barracudas, which population in being reduced in certain islands. Almost 100 divers already have had the Ocean Eyes Experience.
- Educate: We started to dive with children recently to show them the marine life and to bring awareness about the problems. They are the key for the future. We are also working on a project based on videos about the marine life, its threats and the possible solutions to be used at schools as material for discussions and learning.
- Engage: We have more than 6,100 followers in our fanpage and 50,000 visitors in our blog. We have a section in our blog (www.oceanovivo.net.br) for the sustainable actions and we are going to create a video channel in English, as actually our social media is just in Portuguese.
We must keep the ocean alive. Human survival depends on it.
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