As a child my father would take me and my brother treasure hunting. Waking up, in a tent on a beach, in the bunk of a sailboat or in the old fisherman’s cabin on our tiny island, we would get in the boat, lunchpacks, towels and all, and go for an Adventure. With a capital A.
We’d steer for one of the hundreds of wild islands and skerries in the outer belt, and the Hunt would begin. The prize: flotsam. Odd looking pieces of wood, twisted, saltsoaked boards, and the biggest prize of all: fishing floats or the occasional plastic bottle with foreign lettering. The latter two would be brought home with pride, rarities to be treasured.
I’m now 31 years old , a sailor, a marine biologist and a scientific diver. Six weeks before writing this I gave birth to my first child, a daughter. She will never get to play this game. The rocky beaches where we went hunting 25 years ago are now littered with plastic, in all its shapes and forms. I know, I went back to see for myself.
However, most people don’t. Get to see for themselves that is. And as the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. Whether it’s previously pristine beaches or out in the world’s oceans, in the seafood we eat, in the water we swim in, if you can’t see it, it is of small importance. Except, in this case, it isn’t.
The contaminants in the fish on your dinner table, a plastic bottle on the beach or an accumulation the size of a country in one of the oceanic gyres, are all symptoms of the same problem. And the first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging that it exists. I hope that by being part of eXXpedition I can be part of bringing to people’s attention the magnitude of this problem, both the visible and the invisible, and show that it affects all of our lives.
“People protect what they love”. It’s as true now as when Jacques Cousteau first coined it. For the last 10 years I have been working for the marine environment and its conservation. Mapping underwater ecosystems around the same islands where I used to play. Coordinating international work on assessing the threat to marine species. Assisting multinational research groups when taking on questions on the sustainable use of the marine environment.
All of this I have done for myself, because the sea is what I love. But now, now I do it for my daughter. Because everyone deserves treasure hunts in their life. And because women are adventurers. With a capital A.”