Welcome to our "Ocean Passion Series" where we are interviewing ordinary people doing extraordinary actions for the ocean. We believe learning from others can help our own life become more engaged and inspired. This week our guest is an inspiring woman from Canada.
Hey Tamara can you tell us about yourself and where you are in the world?
Photo Credit: Dan Abramovici
My name is Tamara Arenovich and I am a journalist from Toronto, Canada. I am also an adventurer, a vagabond, an unapologetic anarchist and an avid shark enthusiast.
That is some powerful character traits you have Tamara! We definitely love the avid shark enthusiast. How long have you known your passion for the ocean and can you remember that day or situation that brought it to the surface?
I have always had a deep love affair with nature and the great unknown. I spent much of my childhood in the Canadian wilderness, living in a log cabin that my father built by hand. We woke in the morning to the sound of the loons and fell asleep at night to the howling of the wolves. The forest and the lakes were my playground, the beavers and bunnies my friends. As a child, I often wished that our lake had a plug at the bottom like a giant bathtub, so that I could drain the water out for just a second to see what mysteries lurked beneath the surface.
As I grew up, that desire stayed with me and I became a diver. I had found a way to explore the secrets of the deep! There is nothing that I love more than disappearing into the blue and losing myself in another world. It is pure joy.
Damn! Growing up in a log cabin in the Canadian wilderness around loons and wolves sounds exciting! Some people plan that for retirement and you have already experienced that and moved on to bigger adventures. Love it! We agree that losing yourself in the big blue is most definitely "Pure Joy". So tell us Tamara how did you become an activist and started to fight for the ocean?
Five years ago, through equal parts good luck and bad judgement, I found myself alone in the ocean face-to-face with a giant hammerhead shark. As our eyes locked, time stood still and we entered a trance-like state. I gazed into those eyes filled with an ancient wisdom and I saw so much.
That moment, which lasted for an eternity but was probably no more than a few seconds, changed me forever. And in that moment of silent communication, I made a promise to that shark.
The spell eventually broke and we went our separate ways. I returned to the surface, but a part of me never really returned from that dive. A promise was made, and a promise like that is the kind that you have to keep.
That was the day I became an activist.
One thing here at Pelagic Love is that we love hearing about how the passion for the ocean started within a person. You just shared the spark to your new deeply caring world. How incredible to hear your trigger was being face to face with a hammerhead shark. Thank you Tamara for sharing the beginning of your journey with a desire to protect the blue world. Now we definitely know you're passionate about the ocean, so please tell us what actions have you done or do to give back or help the ocean?
As a journalist, I share stories about the plight of the oceans with the world in an effort to raise awareness and bring forth change.
I am also a volunteer with Sea Shepherd and have been involved in several campaigns.
In September 2016, I was on the shores of Costa Rica as part of Operation Jairo II. We patrolled the beaches at night protecting nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, and turtle eggs from poachers and other serious threats. The government of Costa Rica shut us down almost immediately and forced us to leave, but not before we managed to save 1,899 lives.
In October 2016, I travelled to Taiji, Japan as a Cove Guardian. There I filmed and documented the bloody massacre of hundreds of dolphins. This heinous practice is funded by the captivity industry. Entire pods of dolphins are killed every year so that their juveniles can be taken and sold to dolphinariums around the world.
I left Japan in November 2016 and returned again in January 2017. This time, I was not permitted to enter Taiji. I was interrogated, detained, and ultimately forced to return to Canada.
In March 2017 I joined the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat as part of Operation Milagro III in Mexico. This passionate team worked tirelessly day and night, often under treacherous conditions, removing illegal gillnets from the Gulf of California and saving the lives of hundreds of animals. The campaign was hugely successful but there is still so much work left to do. The area that Jacques Cousteau once described as “the world’s aquarium” is being decimated by illegal fishing. Operation Milagro is fighting to save not only the critically endangered vaquita, but the Sea of Cortez itself.
Very impressive what you have accomplished in only 5 years after your interaction with a hammerhead. Our readers should be feeling how a strong emotion to help drives such action where no holds barred. You have saved a lot of lives Tamara from sea turtles, dolphins, to the Sea of Cortez. Absolutely brilliant work! Tell us with all this amazing activism has your passion for the ocean brought out strengths or confidence that would have or may have been a fear?
It certainly has helped me to develop an interesting skill set! I can locate a turtle nest in complete darkness using nothing more than a broken stick. I can hold my breath for over 4 minutes. And I can operate a crane, at sea, in the dark, while singing my crane operator theme song. :D
But joking aside, what my passion for the ocean has really given me is perspective. Over the past 15 years as a diver, I have seen the destruction of reefs and habitats first-hand. Ecosystems that were once vibrant and filled with life are now barren. The oceans are dying, and we do not have the luxury of time to sit back and continue to live in comfortable indifference. We need to take action, and we need to do it now.
Absolutely! There is so many sad variables happening to the ocean from dead zones, overfishing, plastic, to even extinction. It is great to see people like yourself stepping up and listening to your soul, your inner fire that makes you follow the path to give your time to what is important. The world needs more leaders like yourself. Please do not stop. With all your ocean activism we are sure you have come into contact with many ocean organizations. Can you tell us what ocean organization is your favorite and why?
I also have a lot of respect for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and the many independent activists who dedicate their time and energy to helping the dolphins in Taiji. The captives being held there are kept in some of the worst conditions seen anywhere in the world. They need a strong voice to speak for them.
Those are some top organizations. All of the are doing some incredible work for the ocean and ultimately the planet. We at Pelagic Love absolutely adore all four of them for the tireless efforts they continue to do around the world. You have told us tons of beautiful work you have accomplished and the impressive people you have had the honor to work with so let's swing it to what would be your favorite thing about the ocean?
Sharks are my jam. And every time I accidentally cross paths with one in the ocean (it happens a lot), it reminds me why I am here and makes everything else worthwhile. I fight for them. A promise was made.
That being said, bio-luminescent bow-riding dolphins are pretty cool too. ;)
We love your passion Tamara! We are so honored to have you on our weekly Ocean Passion Series because you are the definition of Passion with all the action you have told us and shown us. Please keep the fire alive because our ocean and ultimately our planet needs that! Thank you.
Check back next week on the Ocean Passion Series to find out who our next ocean passionate guest will be and you will never be disappointed! Check out our past guests here >>Ocean Passion Series<<