“I grew up on the coast of Connecticut and spent a lot of time on the water, so I’ve always had a deep connection with the oceans. Early in my career, I went into film, then media, and I was working at National Geographic when the research vessel Alucia discovered the Giant Squid. That showed me an opportunity to pair science and media. Now, in my role at OceanX Media, I believe that it’s so important for people to be better connected to nature, and to the oceans.
The truth is, I didn’t know that much about the deep ocean before. Like many people, I had a connection with the ocean, but at the surface level. The more research I did, it was staggering to learn how little we know about the deep ocean. 71 percent of the earth is covered in oceans, and we’ve only explored five percent of that — much of which is the deep ocean. When you go on these expeditions, you see magical creatures and their habitats in the deep, and so many people don’t even know those exist! Many of the parts of the deep truly are an alien world. There’s so much left to discover. We need to open people’s eyes so they understand the power of the oceans, and why we should preserve and protect them.
At OceanX Media, such a valuable part of my job, and what makes me fulfilled, is to inspire people to care and want to make a difference in taking care of the oceans. I want to do that because I’ve been passionate about this since I was a kid. When I was growing up, I would watch all the BBC documentaries like Planet Earth and the original Blue Planet, and they were very inspiring to me. I don’t know that I would have cared as much about these creatures the way I do now if I hadn’t fallen in love while watching them on television first. That’s what we tried to continue to inspire with our work on Blue Planet 2.
One of the most powerful moments at this job, when I was truly overcome by the majesty of our oceans, was visiting the brine pools of the deep ocean. I’d reviewed the research that had been done, but that was ages ago, and there is still so much more to be seen. Going down below, you see this witch’s cauldron, these lakes underwater, and because of the salinity, it creates a huge ecosystem around these pools with mussels, eels, and even squid. Each one has its own characteristics. Many people are awed by space exploration, and think it’s so exciting — and it is! — but the idea that there is this whole other unexplored ecosystem right under our feet is breathtaking!
It’s funny, I’m definitely an example of someone who realized a childhood passion as a job, and how fulfilling and meaningful that can be. If you could go back and tell me as a kid that this is what I would be doing, I definitely would not believe it. I would be a kid in a candy store. Thinking that I could actually explore the depths of the ocean and be involved in productions that I enjoyed as a child would be inconceivable — just a dream for me. And now, I kind of see the same thing repeating with my own nephew. He pays attention to ocean explorers and tells me about the facts he learns. It’s awesome to see kids become fascinated at the footage we encounter.
I hope other people can align their passions in the same way. Really, focus is key. My advice, if you’re seeking fulfillment, is to make sure there is a key focus on the projects that make you feel enriched, and remember that it all aligns with your passion. It’s interesting, I originally never thought I’d do work in the oceans, even though I loved them. I thought I would get into scripted television. And I had a choice of going off and starting something new at OceanX, converging my passions for oceans and storytelling, or I could keep going on the path I was already on — but I chose this. Even though this was the harder, less explored path, I believe it was the right choice. I think a lot of people have pivotal moments like I did, where it’s a choice between a traditional path or following your dream. Of course what’s good for your career is important, but passion is everything.”
As told to Emily C. Johnson
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