It is that time of the year again, when the humpback whales have arrived to Mohéli, Comoros. A remote, isolated island in the country of Comoros located in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar. These clean, calm and safe waters have been the birthing ground for Humpback whales for as long as the locals remember, and every year from July to October pregnant mama’s travel all the way from Antarctica to give birth here.
Mother nature knows best, and in her infinite wisdom a balance of life and death has been created on our planet. Unfortunately due to human kind breaking out of it’s mold and conquering just about every corner of our earth, whether its physical presence in the harshest desert landscapes, drilling for oil deep beneath the ocean or separating ourselves from nature with impressive buildings and creations. Our success has come at a steep price for many species on this earth, and we are currently living through the Holocene mass extinction. The next mass extinction since Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, where no tetrapods larger than 25 kg except the leatherback turtle and crocodile survived.
The IUCN (International Union Conservation of Nature) monitors the population levels, health, distribution and projection of animals and decides to award them one of the 7 labels. Ranging from least concern to extinct. Sea turtles, who are sleek and elegant however have been hunted for their flesh and eggs by several cultures worldwide, are all on the endangered species list. There are 7 species of turtle, and none of them have escaped the effects of human expansion. That is why, whenever we see a injured, trapped or struggling turtle, it is our responsibility to help.
When I first got the job offer to work on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I was extatic and mildly hesitant. Of course I immediately asked my boss whether there would be sufficient plant based options and he replied with “We have our own organic garden, but mostly everyone eats fish”. The job and the opportunity was simply too incredible to give up, so I figured I would move there and see what the food has in store for me.
What I found out, was unexpected and absolutely astonishing, not only do the Comoros Islands, which are located north of Madagascar and East of the Mozambique coast, have plant based food. They have an exquisite selection of exotic, tropical, unique starches, fruits and vegetables. Therefore, not only do I urge anyone who has not heard of this location to pick up an Atlas or search in Google maps, I highly encourage you to mark the spot as your next holiday destination.
So you’re looking for scuba diving equipment, amongst all the brands, specifications and price points its very easy to get lost. After ten years of diving, and five years of being a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor, I decided why not share some of my insights over my diving career, to help divers to pick their ideal gear. I am not going to be talking the most technical points, however, the aspects of scuba diving equipment that matters in the end : ease of use and durability. Today, we are tackling the best torches to buy.
Why Buy A Torch
If you are an avid, or beginner diver, purchasing a dive torch is high up on the list of priorities. While it does not rank above mask, snorkel, fins, booties, dive computer and debatably wetsuit, a torch is firmly fighting for seventh place. Having a torch helps you shed some light on the sometimes gloomy underwater world. Whether you are trying out your first night dive and require a hand held light device to help you find your way around, are diving to depths where all colours disappear or simply want to shine a light into a crevasse or crack in the rock to try find it’s inhabitants. A torch will make any dive fuller with colour. Check out the other gear I use.
The whole point of the #juneocean challenge was to get as many people involved in changing their habits a little bit each day to add up to a bigger, positive impact on our earth. It’s the end of June, however we are now entering July which is also known as Plastic Free July. I have already created a guide on how to go plastic free in your life, which is available for free when you join the mailing list! Just enter your email and start your transition to a plastic free life.
So lets recap some of the environmentally friendly choices we can make.
1.Chose to Say No Thank you
Stay strong and say no to those unplanned random occurrences : the free water bottles passed out, the plastic bags filled with treats, the extra bag your local farmer tries to give you. If you have never taken a moment to explore minimalism, I highly recommend having a look into it. It’s a lifestyle which allows you to live with less, focus on mental, spiritual and your own happiness rather than material possessions. Keep things that make you happy and don’t fall for every convenient offering.
One of my biggest questions when packing up my life to move to Moheli, Comoros to work as a Scuba Diving Instructor at Laka Lodge. Was
“Is There Wifi?”
I have already written about Laka Lodge and all their amenities there, which you can check out here, but what about the rest of the country? What does travelling here entail? Is it really the end of the world in a jungle? Or can you stream Netflix? What food is there? How can you get around?
So lets start with the number one question most modern, digital natives have every day. Is there WIFI?
The Comoros is comprised of an archipelago of three islands. Grande Comore, the capital islands and the largest in size. Moheli, the smallest and often considered the heart of the Comoros with astonishing rainforest and National Park and Anjouan, the bustling port island with colourful people and a population similar to Grand Comere.
Reef Safe sunscreen time! I have been meaning to talk this for a very long time, scroll down to the bottom to get a list of some epic sunscreen brands you can get yourself! Or how to make your own!
Hawaii Setting the Bar
Hawaii has just passed a landmark decision, of banning all reef harming sunscreen island wide. The decision is currently awaiting the governors signature and would come into affect January 1st 2021. Currently, estimations are that 14,000 tons of suscreen is deposited in oceans annually. The greatest damage from these chemical products has been found in popular reef areas in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Studies were conducted by the non profict Haereticus Environmental Laboratory which surveyed several beaches, finding the statistics of Trunk Bay receiving 2,000 to 5,000 swimmers daily while Hanauma bay, a popular snorkeling destination in Oahu drawing 2,6000 swimmers a day. Calculating roughly the amount of sunscreen a person puts on and repplies, the amount washed off into the reefs could be up to 200kg per day!
Apart from the big names we are already familiar with such as Patagonia and Sea Shepherd, I wanted to highlight some potentially smaller companies which still prioritise our ocean in their message.
Patagonia is a household name for just about anyone outdoorsy, along with their extensive inventory from snowgear to sleeping bags, they have an enormous focus on going green. They have built repair centers worldwide to increase the longetivity of their products and decrease their environmental footprint. In 2016, they gave 10$ Million dollars to grassroots environmental groups. The corporate philosophy is 100% for the planet, and while they are not open and mostly open about it, they are one of the powerhouses driving eco friendly change.
The newest and most exciting thing I heard from the Speak Up For The Blue podcast, is that they created a dating website for environmental activists and environmental groups to connect. Patagonia Actionworks is the place you can go to “Answer with Action”. While I tried to search for environmental agencies near by.. I got results in Portland. Maybe Comoros is not included in their algorythm yet. However, the Plastic Free Fund is going strong, with you being able to donate and hopefully come vollunteer in the future!
Another enormous company, is Sea Shepherd, this non for profit is the leader in ocean conservation. They do not just speak, they act. With three enormous multimillion dollar ships, Sea Shepherd must be backed by gigantic donations. Their T-shirts are also an excellent way to spread awareness about the plight of our oceans, starting a conversation and standing in unity.
This week for #juneocean I wanted to talk about the all famous topic of plastic bags. As you have noticed, ever week a new country or state announces a ban for plastic bags. When I first moved to Australia, I was astounded that they still provided plastic bags in supermarkets in the year 2012! In France, for as long as I remember, my mother had been bringing big heavy duty bags to do our shopping. Indeed, when I look at the information, France ruled out using plastic bags in 2015 and is pioneering the way for future countries with this years single use takeaway containers, utensils and straws. France’s law for plastic straws, utensils and cutlery coes into affect in 2020.
While the governments, organisations and big dogs are slowly shifting their way to respond to the tsumani of plastic awaiting us in the oceans, we as individuals have enormous power by ourselves. If you were to stop using plastic bags, that could amount to as decreasing (lets say you go shopping twice a week, each week you get 4 bags, multiply that by the amount of weeks in a year, and you’re hovering around 500 single use bags just for you) Now consider that we are all shaped by the people we spend the most time with, invariably by eliminating your use of plastic bags you will inspire your mother, brother, sister, friend, uncle, colleague, daughter, son to do the same.
The beauty of this is, they might not even realize that they’re doing in the first place, but soon enough you have set off a chain reaction of positive change through your surroundings.
A quick over view of the plastic bag statistics :
Shoppers worldwide are using approximately 500 billion single-use plastic bags per year.
If you lined them up, they would circumvent the globe 4,200 times.
It costs US$4,000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags and you get a product that can be sold on the commodities market for US$32. – Meaning it is not financially viable to recycle them, making them disposable.
Approximately 1 million sea birds also die from plastic.