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 11 yrs old and living in NSW Australia.
Good day mate can you tell our audience a bit about yourself?
Sure my name is Ariana and I am 11 years old. I am in year 4 but some might know it as grade 4. I am an environmental officer at school and this is something I work hard for each and every year at school as I pride myself on being one and it is a role that is all about recycling and making sure our school is clean and tidy. This year I have tried to ban some plastics being sold at the canteen which did not go so well but I tried.
I live in western Sydney NSW Australia. I have 2 dogs, a cat and a rabbit as most times I have more time for animals then humans. I love the ocean and my love for the ocean has grown these past few years but more on that later.
I love to learn about all that lives in the ocean as I read a lot and watch a lot of things on the ocean. Some might say I am obsessed with the ocean but nah i don't think so.
Apart from loving the ocean and my animals I love photography and when I am at the beach I always have my camera at the ready as you never know what you might come across as photography allows you to capture so many amazing moments in life. Also I find myself bringing home hurt birds from school and help make them better if and when it is possible.
"I feel like I often do not fit in with the world around me and I guess I often feel like the hammerhead." ~Ariana
Wow and you're 11 !! Ariana you are doing so many incredible things at your age. Some people might not even do one thing on your list in their life time. This is only our first question but you have shown so much love for animals, the ocean, and the environment! Keep up the great leadership. Let's move into the next question. How long have you felt your passion for the ocean and can you remember what situation brought it to the surface?
This is somewhat easy to remember as I said I have always loved the beach but one day in year 2 as we were learning about marine animals my teacher asked "Should sharks be culled?"
I found that my teacher and the rest of the class were all saying yes they should be.
I was um....no they should not be I was a lone voice and I have no idea where that came from as it came from no where my teacher went on to be like but sharks kill people they are dangerous and are born killing machines.
The more the teacher said negative things about the sharks the more I was no culling is not the answer for sharks. That night I came home and I asked my Mum could I use the computer I needed to get some facts. So the next day as we were learning about sharks I put up my hand up and said you think this animal should be culled but do you know how important these animals are to us humans and do you know what humans do to these animals each and everyday?
The teacher was go on tell us and I did, I spoke of the fin trade as I was sadden with what I had read and watched the night before I spoke of nets and how sharks get caught in them I seemed to take over the class. My teacher was not impressed.
Later that week my Mum and I gave a talk to the class about marine animals and the teacher pulled my Mum aside and said "What is going on with Ariana and sharks?" Mum said you started a fire in her belly and I do not see it going out. As we walked home that day from school I turned to my mum and said this is what I want to do.
I want to educate people about what marine life face and I want to show them how important sharks are and they are not mindless killers. As I believe through education comes change. No the fire has not gone out it and has grown more. I have become more passionate about sharks and other marine life and the issues they face from dolphin and orca captivity and also to mass slaughters around the world of dolphins and plastic pollution damaging our oceans.
But to end this on a happier note that year as a teachers gift I gave a dvd to this teacher Sharkwater by the late and amazing Rob Stewart. The next year my teacher came to me and shook my hand and said "Ariana after watching that dvd I see just how important sharks are, they still scare me but I respect them and I support you in your fight to save sharks and educate people about them." This meant the world to me as that was one persons mind I could help change and see sharks differently.
You are completely blowing our minds here at Pelagic Love. How powerful to be the one voice that stands up for sharks and speak against shark culling. You not only educated yourself but you came back and educated the class and the teacher. The gift of Sharkwater was so well thought out and brilliant honestly! Rob Stewart was my friend and I know he would thank you for such a wonderful act of kindness. You are definitely a leader Ariana. You have completely shown us in two short questions your passion for the ocean so please tell us what actions do you do to give back or help the ocean?
I started Ariana's Ark on facebook it began as a place to educate family and friends on marine matters then it just grew. I talk about the issues the oceans face from plastics to over fishing to sharks and what they are going through. I also attend as many out reach events as I can and last year I spoke at a rally for "say no to shark-nets" at Manly Beach. I became upset about the shark-nets and animals being caught in them, my Mum helped me as I ended up crying.
Also on my way to school and home I pick up rubbish as I might not live near a beach but it will save it going into the drains. I have done out-reach days for "No to shark fin soup and dolphin captivity."
When I am at the beach I do beach clean ups as I collect as much rubbish as I can.
The past 2 years when doing public speaking at school I have based my speeches on marine matters. I have been told they are a bit over the top but I want to bring it to a conversation and make my teachers and class go home and think about the issues I spoke about.
This year did a shirt fundraiser where I donated the money made from the shirts to different groups to help them and their fight to help the oceans. I have also written a book about a shark name Orchid who finds a finned friend that had been finned and I donated a copy to my school as another way of raising awareness on finning and also touch briefly on a few other issues like captivity and dolphin drives. I would not say I am an activist but an educator as I like to educate as many people as I can.
We are so energized by you active educating passionate life Ariana! You have literally blown us away for how connected you are to the world. At 11 yrs old we know Australia is in good hands and the rest of the ocean and world will be positively affected. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We can see so much change in you but we need to ask you how has your passion for the ocean changed your thinking and your life at such a young age?
I think I have come out of my shell more since being a voice for oceans, I have grown more confident with public speaking and my teachers will sometimes say things like all marine life is ugly why do you fight for the oceans; and I come back in a way with facts and say not everything is ugly and we need our oceans to live even my teachers think we get a lot of oxygen from the trees more than the oceans. But really it is the other way around and I remain respectful.
I think more of my future and if sharks are taken at the rate they're going then how many will be left and if so what breeds of sharks will remain. I think if dolphins are killed and taken for captivity what does that mean for the oceans future. Also as I want to be able to experience all these animals in the ocean not in tanks, not just see on DVDs or in a book and if humans keep going the way they are then that is what will be left for my future.
You are spot on Ariana. If the human species keeps taking these marine animals out of the ocean in a violent manner then there will be none left to enjoy in thier own habitat. Our world is at a major shift of climate change, many animals losing their habitats and extinction, and without open minds like yourself to become leaders to champion change we would definitely be in trouble. We completely support your future direction as we need you to open the minds through your education to help our world. Being so young you have mentioned a few great changes in your life but let's direct the question and ask has your passion for the ocean brought out strength or confidence that would have been a fear otherwise?
I was always fearful of public speaking as it scared me as everyone watching and judging what you had to say, now I see it as a platform that I can help spread the message and help raise much needed awareness.
There have been times when anxiety has gotten to me but since being a voice for the oceans, the oceans keep me calm and it has become less and less as it was all school based. But I know who I am and I say that I am like any sporting kid but my parents take me to rallys and fund-raisers and the beach and ocean based events. Now I am going to work towards my dive license and I am more confident snorkeling now then I once was.
Just powerful Ariana. Passion can really drive a person to not care about criticism and judgement because as your showing us those things just don't matter. When you speak from the heart and soul then you speak for something outside of you and it becomes a selfless action which is more rewarding. You keep doing what you're doing Ariana because you have great parents guiding your journey so brilliantly. So tell us what ocean organization is your favorite and why?
This is a great question as so many amazing groups out there doing all different things for our oceans and raising awareness. I do love Sea Shepherd as they try to bring awareness on so many different ocean issues from whaling to sharks to dolphins to turtles to ghost nets. I love the work that sharks for kids does, as well as bringing sharks to the class room I wish my school would get on board with that one. Can I also say I admired the work that Rob Stewart done for the ocean, the world, and sharks.
Thank you so much for your personal input to some great ocean educating organizations. We love that you have your own group platform to educate and Sea Shepherd and Rob Stewart are both incredible ocean organizations out there. In your own words what would you like people to know that was a great lesson you have learned because of your passion?
That sharks are not as tough as we all think they are as they really are fragile. Also the oceans need help, they need all kinds of help from plastic pollution to general rubbish to over fishing and so many species fighting to stay around. I am more aware now of how I recycle, I try to grow my own veggies and I use reusable bags and give reusable bags.
Now I do not buy the ticket to marine parks as I educate others on why I choose not to buy that ticket. Try to educate my class mates and teachers too.
Great points! The ocean does have many challenges that need to be addressed from pollution on many levels to slaughters and captivity. Every thing you have chosen to do will help greatly for the future you want to see in the world. Please keep moving forward with your positive actions. Last question but definitely not the least important as we would like to know what is your favourite marine animal and why?
This is a tough question for me as so many sharks so many I love but if i had to choose then it is going to be the Bonnet head shark. They are very mysterious and unique, then again I love hammerheads as well as they are unusual. It is like they do not fit in with the world around them. But it is like they were made to shine and stand out as such unique beings. I feel like I often do not fit in with the world around me and I guess I often feel like the hammerhead.
How cool is that! Love your unique choice of a shark species and why. Also to compare yourself to a hammerhead is just so cool. You fit into the world that we at Pelagic Love want. That is a world that is protected and cared for with strong leaders that support sharks and other very important animals. We want to thank you with great honour for joing us today Ariana. You have shared incredible passion to our readers and we will check in with you later on in your journey to see how things are going. We know you will be a powerhouse the rest of your life.
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<<