Water has always been a part of my life. I was blessed to grow up in Pearl City near the beautiful shores of the island of O’ahu in Hawaii and developed my passion for the ocean from my father – a marine biologist and part-time scuba diving instructor. His love and understanding of the power and benefits of the ocean left an indelible mark on me and my attitude to and respect for something that provides so much life and energy for the world we live in. So much so that I followed suit, gaining my diving certification at the tender age of 10.
I guess you could say the ocean, and water in general, is in my blood. Part of who I am. It’s why I’ve tried, wherever possible, to live near water as my studies and career have taken me to Ithaca, Boston, Beaumont, Scotland, and now, Houston. And, I’m not alone. It’s what marine biologist Wallace Nichols calls our ‘blue mind’.1 A recent study by a UK group, the Blue Gym Initiative, found people are generally healthier and happier than those living inland. It’s difficult to put a figure on happiness, but the team behind the eight-year study estimated in a separate paper that greater exposure to the marine environment could be valued at nearly $250 million.2
Blue Gym Initiative’s study also found that most people living or working near water have a far greater personal connection to environmentally-friendly behaviors. We acknowledge and are reminded constantly of the immense role water plays in our lives, and the urgent need to protect our seas and use marine resources sustainably. That’s why it should come as no surprise that I’m personally passionate about marking World Oceans Day on the 8th of June.