For this week's spotlight, we have a freaking cool girl. Ocean photographer, shark diving enthusiast, and Oahu local, she makes us jealous when we're stuck in the office all day. Read on to find out more about her!
Who are you / what's your story?
Aloha! I'm B! I grew up on a small farm, when I was 13 my parents took a leap and moved us into a tiny suburb home in Florida so that we can learn English, I ended up getting my High school diploma there and going to Chicago for college. Fast forward to now I've been living in Hawai'i for the past 5 years and I love it. I cannot live without the ocean and I'd love to live on a boat and sail to Tahiti one day. I'm a photographer and most of my work is done underwater, I love to photograph sharks and Manta rays. Three years ago I decided to go back to school to pursue a degree in Marine Biology after first getting a degree in Arts after high school. I wanted to give my underwater photography work more meaning by backing it up with science! I've been blessed to make the change, it has allowed me to meet so many inspiring people and women that work in the conservation field and marine world.
What do you do and how did you get there?
I'm a marine biologist in training, conservationist and a photographer, I mostly focus on shooting underwater and surf photography since I moved to this beautiful island! My favorite subjects are sharks! I moved out here 5 years ago after deciding to take 30 days off work and decided to go as far west as possible in the USA and make my way back to Florida before the end of the summer, well I managed to find a $150 plane ticket to Hawai'i, booked it, came out here with a backpack (which was lost!), ready to begin my journey across the United States but 3 days later I had found an apartment and quickly found a job and began my life here in Hawai'i, from the moment my plane flew over the north shore I knew I would not be able to leave. The past 5 years have been the best and most difficult of my life, but I am so glad I persevered and grew roots into this magical land! I now focus my life on researching Manta rays, I founded "The Oahu Manta Ray Project
" and I dedicate most of my time looking for Mantas around Oahu, photo identifying them and building a database.
Aspirations? What's the big dream? We want to know all of it.
I have been focusing for the past 2 years on a research project that tracks Manta rays around the island of Oahu, The Oahu Manta Ray Project, my goal is to turn it into a non-profit organization that focuses on researching and protecting Manta rays in the Hawaiian Islands, I'd love to work for National Geographic to make a documentary about the Manta ray gill trade that is lead by China. It would show different Manta hot spots in the world and then show what is occurring in places like Indonesia, the Maldives, Thailand and/or Mozambique where Mantas are being hunted for their gills and sent to China for "medicinal" purposes.
What are you listening to right now (music, podcasts, audiobooks)?
Music! I've never even heard a podcast or audiobook before Ahahaha!!!! *shame*
I love listening to reggae, my favorite song is "Still Searchin' by Damian Marley" that song will automatically put me in a good mood. I listening to just about anything and will pick music over TV any day! Some of my other favorites include: Etta James, Ray Charles, J.Cole, Stephen Marley, Nas, TuPac, Amy Winehouse, Rebelution, and so so so many more!! Yes, I have an old soul and will jam to Etta James like it's nobody's business and I swear I can sing just like her!
Favorites (Food, places, things to do etc.)?
Lemons! Lemons are my favs. I cannot live without them. Yes, I will eat an entire lemon and drink lemonade at the same dang time ahahah!
Avocados are a very close second. I try to live a sustainable lifestyle so I grow a lot of fruits and veggies, my garden usually has lots of herbs, tomatoes, lettuce, and taro. I have two mango trees that make my summers 100 times better! I'm so lucky!
Best advice you've gotten?
Lead by example, one person can make a difference.
My friend Maddison Stewart once wrote this and I think it sums up what we (I) hope to do every day.
"The most important career I can hope to be involved in is the protection of this planet, and thus my own future. I want a future with sharks in it, this is the end I am fighting for. I have seen a change in my lifetime, I am not an activist or a conservationist, I am just a person, who refuses to believe they will lose their home in their lifetime. Not now, nor has it ever been impossible for one person to make a difference."
Best advice you can give?
Just go for it! You'll regret what you didn't do and if it doesn't work out for you something else will.