Your Ocean Stories
by Max MacBride
4 April 2018
We asked you to tell us what the ocean means to you, and why you care about protecting precious marine environments like the Great Australian Bight. Here are just a few of the beautiful stories that have been shared so far!
I have been lucky enough to have been boating surfing and diving all over this amazing world and have spent time in most of its oceans and there is nothing as amazing as a southern ocean swell passing under your keel, surfing and sharing a crystal clear wave with a group of enthusiastic young seals.
Being challenged whilst idly cruising a bay on your paddle board by a bull southern right whale because he thinks you’ve strayed too close to his family. Watching an albatross scanning your wake. Witnessing the lunge of a blue whale feeding, the height of its breath the speed of its cruise. The confident purpose of a tiny penguin fragile voyager in a endless sea. Swaying forests of giant kelp, dancing sea dragons and curious cuttlefish.
Nowhere else on the planet is so wild and pristine and nowhere else will heal your soul so completely. That’s my Southern Ocean, please leave it just the way it is so my kids can find solace there as well.
A few years ago, we were walking south along the beach where it meets the shallow, turquoise waters of Coral Bay, Western Australia. We became aware that a Blue-spotted Stingray was keeping pace with us. It was as close to the beach it could possibly be without being out of the water.
We slowed, it slowed. We turned around and walked back in the direction we’d come. It turned around and stayed with us. We turned around again, heading in the original direction. It turned around and remained alongside us. We repeated this a number of times, and the ray stuck to us like glue. Eventually we came to reef that was out of the water at low tide, preventing it from following us any further.
I was visiting Whyalla, where I saw a family of dolphins at the wharf. The main female circled the wharf for 15 minutes, gliding effortlessly around. Once she saw that it was safe she left, soon returning with her tiny baby. The little calf stuck to her side, intently following her every move.
I can still barely believe the way that she looked at me. Her eyes were so full of intelligence, wit and awareness. A local fisherman explained that she was teaching her calf how to safely approach the wharf and humans, a crucial skill for this family.
There is no greater joy for me than seeing a dolphin catapult through a wave, or a giant 40-tonne whale leap out of the ocean. It’s a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience of nature – and that despite the world’s challenges we must never forget to play.
My little boy has autism and our visits to the ocean give his life meaning. He is filled with compassion for the sea life that struggle to maintain their lives in the changing ocean environments.
As a 10 year old he swam with humpback whales at Lady Elliot Island. He knows that all living things are equal, and that we should take better care of our planet. He is full of love, not greed, a beautiful soul we could all learn from.
As a child, I always spent Christmas at a beach in South Australia called Second Valley. It sports the perfect jetty to jump off, cliffs to climb and once you enter the water there is a whole other world.
I went there recently snorkelling with my friends in one of the bays, it was a busy day with lots of people floating on blow ups, and posing for pictures for Instagram. It was amazing, a dolphin calf came into the bay, and swam towards us. I made a clicking sound through my snorkel and intrigued, it came right up to us.
As I went under the water it followed, and for what felt like minutes, the calf and i swam, encircling each other, keeping eye contact and our bodies faced towards each the whole time. I spend a lot of time in the ocean and it is one of the most precious moments I have experienced.
What surprised me when I came up for air, is how no-one else noticed the calf. They were too busy, focusing on their appearances or paddling a floaty around. For me this is so similar to the situation at the Bight. We have at the Bight, and all along our Australian coastline, the most spectacular coastline, full of life to so many creatures and like the calf coming up to me, swimming past others and again disappearing into the abyss. This remarkable place has the potential to be destroyed and depleted, without anyone noticing.
The ocean is our life source, to kill it is to kill ourselves, and if it is hindered no amount of money can buy it back. It’s up to regular people like us to protect it.
If not me then who?
If not now then when?
I love the ocean for many reasons. They bring me peace and remind me of how beautiful and untamed our world is. I think of how our planet cannot survive without healthy oceans. The troubles of my daily life pale in comparison.
I love that the ashes of my best friend of 20 yrs, whom passed away sadly too young from cancer 2 years ago, are in the sea, free from pain.
I visit him at a jetty, where he last was, to remember and honour him with his family. His spirit is somewhere there, in the currents, free, where he loved to be when he was alive.
I want to protect it all so children behind me can experience the joy that I did.
As a Scuba Diving Instructor ensures I get to see the amazing sea life and travel along the beautiful coastline of South Australia. I teach many courses in marine conservation and illustrate how humans rely on the ocean and how amazing sea life needs us to protect it.
Leafy Seadragons are beautiful to watch when underwater; they use a propelling pectoral and dorsal fin to hover around shallow leafy waters and unique physical adaptations to blend in with surrounding seagrass.
Western and South Australia are the only places you can find these unique animals, so we need to protect them. The Great Australian Bight is the reason I continue to live in South Australia and be entertained by its beauty every week.
Growing up on the sunny Gold Coast, the ocean isn’t part of your life; the ocean is your life.
Every summer Saturday morning for about 15 years, my family would head down to the Palm Beach Surf Club for Nippers. There, my dad (the trusty Age Group Leader) would take my brother, friends and I through the range of events: flags, sprint, board and swim.
Nippers taught me so much. I learnt crucial life skills, made lifelong friends and had endless amounts of fun.
As a young Aussie, I don’t think you can really find a greater happiness than a party wave with all your mates!
For future generations, it is so important that we protect our oceans. I want my children, and my children’s children to have the same opportunities and happiness that I experienced through Nippers.
Carrie, Southern California
Water binds life to its breath. It is the beginning of our existence and we cease to exist without it. I have lived on the shores of the Pacific my entire life in Southern California. I share a kindred spirit with the land of New Zealand and Australia. Our coasts are remarkably similar; beautiful, rugged and home to populations of dolphin, whale, seal, and abundant sea life.
My Mom would take me down to the dory fishing boats when they would come in at the pier when I was really young, to see what the fishermen had caught that day.
We would pack up the station wagon in the summer and go down to the beach and spend all day playing in the surf. I learned to body surf at Corona Del Mar. If we were lucky we would see the dolphin skimming through waters out passed the breakers.
My dad would join us after work at the fire pits and we would roast hot dogs for dinner. We’d always come home smelling like campfire!
Last year my husband and I enjoyed a trip to Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Let’s all embrace our responsibility to protect this precious gift, not only for ourselves but for all marine life who depend on us.
Hover on the icons to see even more stories on our interactive map:
WHAT’S YOUR OCEAN STORY?
We’re inviting you to share your personal stories of what the Australian ocean means to you, and why it’s important to you to protect it, alongside a photo.Do you have a favourite spot that you always go to? Or a treasured ocean memory that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it!
It’s easy to take part; just share a photo representing your story along with a caption. If you don’t have a photo don’t worry, we’d still love to hear from you! You don’t need to be a photographer to take part, you just need to be someone who loves the ocean, and who is willing to draw on your courage and take a stand.
AN INCREDIBLE TRIP TO THE BIGHT
We’ll be using your stories to send our call for Bight protection to key politicians and decision makers, as well as sharing our favourites on our social media channels.
The most powerful storytellers will be in with a chance to go on an incredible trip to the Great Australian Bight to swim with Australian sea lions, to see what’s at stake first hand, and to become an oceans champion. There are also awesome campaign T-shirts up for grabs!