Posts in Marine Conservation
Preppin' My Sea Legs for a Voyage to New Zealand from Tonga

The Tongans have it figured out when it comes to pace of life. This whole island time mentality is pure magic. I first experienced it in Hawaii, but since coming to the South Pacific, I’m watching life unfold on a whole new level of CHILL. 

Pace. Pace is everything. Specifically, a slow pace. This is coming from a notorious over-thinker and activity-addict, so my acceptance of this is saying a lot. I’ve long been addicted to productivity and the ability to have tangible accomplishments to show that can vouch for my work ethic, but this mindset of constant doing really gets kicked to the curb once one decides to go full-immersion into the dreamy, technicolor, supercharged, yet peaceful world of island life. 

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Turning Into Tigers - Keeping the "Anything is Possible" Mindset in a Challenging World

I feel like I’ve been swirling along a figurative river this entire year, flowing with the currents and enjoying that whole damn wild ride. I reckon it’d be the type of river that you’d find in North Idaho, with some solid rapids and adrenaline-pumping obstacles but nothing too worrisome. Enough to take you by surprise but not throw you out of your seat. The best kind of river.

There was a lot of personal growth this year. A lot of learning about how to relinquish control and leave the planning to the Universe. Life is way less stressful that way, I’ve come to realize. Even in the moments where I recognize anxiety’s clenching pulse in my veins and my mind, I know that it’s temporary and I can let that shit go.

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Yes or No on the Ethics of Whale Swimming? - My Reflections on Tonga & Guide Life

Remember, my goal - peaceful coexistence. To have a relaxed mindset as we enter into the world of these whales. To be open to learning from them, and unoffended if the whale does not seem accepting of us at any particular moment. We inhabit this planet together. Why wouldn’t we want to celebrate each other’s beauty, while respecting the other species’ own lifestyle and needs?

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The Importance of Imagery in Conservation Activism

Media serves a lot of different purposes in today’s society, and can invoke a huge range of emotions. For those of us with a passion for imagery, audio, and other types of creative outlets, there is an immense responsibility to ensure we’re spreading the right messages to our audience. In the marine conservation world, my cohorts and I have taken on the rather large task of illuminating the problems and threats faced by our ocean and its inhabitants.

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Why Do Whales Do That? Humpback Whale Behavior in Tonga

Because Tonga is one of the breeding grounds of the South Pacific humpback whales, we see an extensive range of behaviors that are focused around accomplishing one of two goals: 1) you’re either here to give birth and raise a calf or 2) you’re here to get pregnant or impregnate another whale.

Sometimes I make jokes that whales are the “original tropical island honeymooners”and that Tonga is the bedroom and Antarctica is the kitchen, connected by the world’s longest hallway, but these expressions are a bit of a euphemism. It’s definitely not all chillaxing and playful getting it on for the whales here. Breeding season is hard work.

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A Love Letter to my Future Sailboat - Week 5 in Tonga

One of my big goals is to sail as much as possible, in the very near future. I’m trying to manifest that with positive thinking and affirmative action. I took a sailing course in the San Juan Islands in June with my family (photos below) and fell even more in love with the concept of harnessing the wind’s energy to spend time on the best thing in the world (the ocean).

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Respecting the Locals: How the Cultural View of Whales in Tonga Has Shifted - Week 4 in Tonga

Another busy week is whirling by, filled with bouts of spitting rain and random bursts of sunshine. The sun is always teasing us, staying out just long enough to dry our towels and our salt-stained clothing before it ducks behind a cloud and we have to run around frantically collecting our laundry before the next downpour.

Island weather, it turns out, is a fickle friend. And I love it! Some nights it’s a bit chilly and we are bundled up in blankets, drinking mulled wine and nibbling on our sacred stashes of dark chocolate while watching movies. Other nights, we’re sweating and draped on top of our bedsheets, wishing for the soft whir of a fan next to our ears and some sort of reprieve from the hypnotic buzzing of the mozzies.

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If You See a Flipper, Tell the Skipper - Week 3 in Tonga

You’re looking at a brand new Master/Engineer Class 6! A.k.a. I’ve obtained my basic skipper’s ticket. I just finished the last stage of my skipper’s course, which consisted of a fifteen minute verbal exam with an officer from Tonga’s Marine and Ports Division. This whole process has been going on since May - I took a three week course in Nuku’alofa on the main island of Tonga with 25 other skippers-to-be. My friend Thom and I were the only two palangis (Caucasians) in the class, and I was also one of two females (REPRESENT). I really enjoyed learning with and being around my Tongan classmates. Everyone was welcoming and very kind!

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Getting our Feet Wet for Whale Swims - Week 2 in Tonga

Things have gotten busier around Sea Change this week! More and more guests are arriving, and a somewhat spontaneous wedding ceremony was held last Saturday alongside a Tongan feast. It’s nice to see some new faces around the property, and with each new group comes more bubbling enthusiasm, different stories, and fresh conversations to be had. I’m excited to meet and chat with a lot of these people out on the whale swims this season. It’ll be interesting to see what their experiences with whales have been prior to this visit. I imagine a lot of them might be seeing whales for the first time? Who knows!

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Moving Off the Grid - Packing Green for a New Adventure in Tonga

There is a crazy new adventure on the horizon! One of my best friends and flatmates, Fi, and I are heading up to Tonga to work with humpback whales for the austral winter. I’m so thankful that for the last four years, I’ve been able to spend at least one season with my favorite cetacean species. Humpbacks are such incredible, majestic creatures to encounter on the water. With their extra-long pectoral flippers, inquisitive eyes, and acrobatic nature, they never cease to delight guests on a whale watch (or make me scream).

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A Simpler Way to Talk Green: Making it easy to understand and discuss climate change

I’m pretty sick of all the heavy negative weight around the words “climate change.” Yes, it’s scary. It’s horrifying that we are letting things get this bad. But at the same time, it’s a problem that we are facing, and there are many people taking positive action. Humanity has faced problems before. We’ve tackled issues and seen both successes and failures, and plenty of bumps along the way. In the end, doesn’t it come down to collaboration and problem-solving? I listened to a really succinct Green Dreamer podcast the other day that focused on summarizing climate change science into three basic facts. Dr. Jeffrey Bennet was the astronomer, teacher, and author that was interviewed, and I enjoyed his casual and easy-to-understand style as he pointed out some helpful bits of advice and offered practical ideas for solutions to this crisis. And the episode was only 30 minutes! I recommend listening to the whole thing here, but I’ve also summarized some of the key ideals that really stuck out to me.

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#noexcuses - An Eco-Resolution Guide to Actually Reducing Your Waste in 2019

Two weeks into 2019 and it’s going to keep chugging. Does it feel any different than 2018? Not really. But I do have this sensation, this impatience, this sense of urgency that seemed to ring itself in along with the fireworks and champagne on New Year’s Eve two weeks ago. We all have our challenges that we want to tackle in 2019, our resolutions that we’re hoping to stick to, changes we want to implement in our own lifestyles. For those of you whose resolutions involve tackling the issue of plastic pollution and the impracticality of the “throw-away” culture, please read on. This is a guide on realistic changes you can make this year, and how you can actually keep these habits throughout the coming months instead of getting reabsorbed into the old ways. If you feel like I feel on these topics, you’ll realize that our society is fast running out of excuses to not address these issues on a very personal level.

So, 2019, man! #noexcuses.

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Five Practical Tips for Being a Responsible, Eco-friendly Traveler

As a traveler, we have an immense responsibility. Jet-setting or road-tripping (or cycling, walking, running, horseback riding, etc.) to see the world is a beautiful gift, and we really shouldn’t take it lightly. Just as we try to “greenify” our lives back home, we can try to spruce up our travel game to be a bit more self-sufficient and leave less of a consumerist trail in our wake.

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Perk Up, Ocean Lover: You're Making it Better Than It Would've Been Otherwise

A Post To Perk You UP About Fighting for Conservation

I’m sure many of you, like me, have been experiencing the ebb and flow of enthusiasm/motivation and helplessness/anxiety over the conservation of our natural environment. The articles/news/research findings are bombarding us - always - and they should, because we need to be aware of the issues and the science. The emotions we attach to the media, however, are brought about by our own projections. I associate so much doom and gloom with everything I hear about climate change and ecosystem destruction, I can’t help it. But what if I stepped away from that and chose to see things differently? What if this perceived negativity could be transformed into a positive source of motivation?

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Week 6: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea: #justpickitup

I'm back with Week 6's Eco-Challenge! This is a real simple one, going back to the basics. It's about picking up litter (hence the #justpickitup theme). We see trash all the time in places it doesn't belong, and the concern here is how often we refuse to acknowledge it. On the beach, on your morning run, on the side of the road, at the park, in the supermarket car park. Why do we see it and ignore it so much of the time when we know that it's negatively impacting the environment? It all comes down to convenience, doesn't it?

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Week 5: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - New 'Poo for Your 'Do

This week I want to talk about hair. Specifically, how we wash it, and how we purchase shampoo. There is so much plastic in our bathrooms, it's not even funny. Not even remotely. It's annoying as hell. It tumbles off the shelves and ledge when we bump into it. Once you squeeze ever little last drop out of the bottle, you have to get rid of it and buy another. Where does it go? Rubbish? Recycling? Do you get confused and just chuck it? "Oh well, someone else's problem now." (Please don't think like that.)

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Week 4: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - The Importance of Delayed Gratification

When we want or need something, it's as easy as opening our browser to Amazon.com or driving to Target and feeling that rush of immediate gratification. No thought required. Just a credit card and a desire. 

This scares me. You know the feeling of emptiness that comes after an impulse buy? It's like a cloud of confusion. It's not satisfying us the way we thought it would. The thing we bought didn't solve our problems. It didn't make us happier (because only you can make you happier). We often choose what is easy instead of what is better in the long run. Maybe our brains are wired that way. Survival, man! But, it's no good.

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Week 3: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life & a Bluer Sea - Eat Like You Give a F*** (One Vegan Meal)

If someone were to ask me one critical thing they could do right now to help the environment, apart from dropping single-use plastics, I would suggest to them to be more aware of the food on their plates. You know, to eat like you give a f***. Like, where the heck did your food come from? Who grew it? How did they grow it? And...how does its production impact the environment? 

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Week 2: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea - Speak Up About Single-Use Plastics

Week number 2 brings a bit of a different challenge, and one that became more and more relevant for me after I became hyper-aware of plastic waste and poor environmental practices in restaurants and other businesses.  The challenge: speak up about a possible improvement that you think one of your favorite restaurants can make in terms of its plastic use. You know those places you go to eat, the ones you adore with delicious food that you can’t get anywhere else and that give you the warm fuzzies because it’s familiar and it’s the bestest…but that also produce horrendous amounts of waste? I experienced that in Coeur d’Alene this past week at the Fish Market. My family loves this place. AMAZING fish tacos. But EVERYTHING served with single-use plastic sauce tubs, plastic cutlery, and beers on tap are even served in plastic pint cups. WHAT. WHY. GET A DISHWASHER. Give someone a job in the community and stop producing so much waste!

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Week 1: 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea - 5 Reasons to shop at your local Farmer's Market

So a little while ago I made a promise to start posting some simple, easy steps you can take to living a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I'm calling this blog series 8 Weeks to a Greener Life and a Bluer Sea, and I'm excited to kick it off with one of my favorite summertime activities: farmer's market shopping! I'm going to keep these posts brief, so you can read them over your morning coffee, absorb what you want from them, and hopefully feel inspired to get out and implement these strategies in your own life.

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