BLUE's Ocean Guardians
Now as a marine biologist, underwater photographer and freedive instructor, Lucas is more likely to be found underwater then above water, diving to depths of 55m on one breath of air. Able to hold is breath for six minutes, the ocean is his spiritual home.
Lucas works to promote a global approach to ecologically sustainable development. He has worked on campaigns to force inquiries into better management of our precious marine resources as well as assisting in hands on scientific research. Lucas insists reliable science and a deep understanding of all the people who use it, what they value, what their needs are, is essential to managing this finite resource.
One way he is doing this is through his work with Scuba for Change, an organisation that invests in Pacific Island communities and their sustainable future. He is helping villagers in the Solomon Islands and the Philippines keep their reefs intact by developing their own ecotourism enterprises.
To others Madison Stewart is a passionate young conservationist, activist and shark advocate. But Madison Stewart (aka Shark Girl), self described, is just a person who refuses to believe sharks will lose their home in her lifetime, at the hands of governments and worldwide neglect.
Madi grew up with a life connected to the ocean, living on a yacht on the Great Barrier Reef from the age of 2. Making an agreement with her father to trade in her school fees for an underwater camera, Madi left school when she was 14 to begin home schooling. From that point on, the ocean creatures were her teachers and her classroom was the reef. Even at her young age, Madi witnessed change. She noticed a decline in the number and type of sharks as a result of ‘legal’ shark fishing with the World Heritage park, with 78,000 sharks taken each year.
Madi will tell you she has always had an affinity with sharks. So outraged at the destruction she saw first hand she resolved to do something about it. At the young age of 16, she dedicated her life to the protection and preservation of sharks. As an underwater filmmaker she wants to show the world what is being destroyed. Over 73 million sharks are taken for the shark fin trade alone each year. She uses her camera and social media as tools to grow public awareness about the plight of sharks, with the ultimate goal of getting governments around the world to take action to protect sharks. “I want a future with sharks in it. This is the end I am fighting for”.
Tim cofounded ‘Take 3 - a Clean Beach Initiative’ that asks everyone to simply take 3 pieces of rubbish when they leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere. Take 3 takes the issue of marine plastic pollution into schools, surf lifesaving clubs, and the broader community. Take 3 has set a goal to remove 3 million pieces of plastic from the ocean over next 3 years.
In 2016, Tim was invited to Washington DC to attend the Our Oceans Conference hosted by the then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Tim moderated the panel on marine pollution at this prestigious gathering of world leaders and influencers.
The Nanum Wungthim Rangers operate a highly successful sea turtle rescue operation and manage one of the regions hotspots for ghost nets. Working with Ghostnets Australia, Phillip leads a team of six hardworking rangers all of whom are passionate about their coastline, rescuing injured marine life and removing ghost nets from their coastline each year.
Working closely with Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, Phillip and the rangers have restored many injured turtles back to health in addition to monitoring and recording data on the breeding, hatching and nest sites of our endangered marine turtles. Collectively they have rescued over 300 entrapped turtles and removed 13,000 nets from the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Famous for her chainmail shark suit and gracing the covers of National Geographic, Valerie and her late husband, shark protection pioneer Ron Taylor, carved out an extraordinary career with their stunning marine documentaries. Ron and Valerie introduced Australia and the world to the wonders of marine life, and more specifically sharks. Starting their ocean careers as competitive spear-fishers, as their fascination with the oceans increased they gave up their spears for cameras.
The list of credits and awards for Valerie Taylor is extensive. She and Ron were the first people to film great white sharks without the protection of a cage. They made countless shark films including Blue Water, White Death which caught the attention of American film Director Steven Spielberg and lead to them working on Jaws. The list of film and television credits is exhaustive but it’s the conservation work Valerie has done both in Australia and around the world that is truly impressive.
Through her campaigning efforts she prevented oil exploration in Ningaloo Marine Park, overturned mining rights on Coral Sea Islands, won protection for many places on the Great Barrier Reef before it was given World Heritage status and lobbied for the maintenance of sanctuary zones in South Australia. In 1986 Valerie was appointed Rider of the Order of the Golden Ark for marine conservation by his Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. In 2003 Valerie was awarded the Order of Australia for her conservation efforts. Pioneering diver, shark advocate, conservationist, artist, ask Valerie and she says “I’m a diver who loves Australia’s oceans.”
Jennifer is a marine eco-toxicologist with expertise in seabird ecology, plastic pollution, invasive species management, and fisheries by-catch. The long term monitoring of sea bird colonies has taken her to remote locations around the globe. She has worked for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii and the Canadian Sub-Arctic. Jennifer currently works as a research scientist at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania and lives in Launceston.
Jennifer is passionate about communicating the issues surrounding marine plastic pollution to the public. She coordinates community environmental activities for school groups and hosts dozens of science workshops and seminars every year. Ultimately Jennifer hopes her research will contribute significantly to the responsible use of plastic products as well as the management of wildlife at risk from plastic ingestion across the globe.
Mark has a long history with Greenpeace that dates back over 20 years when he climbed onboard the MV Greenpeace as one of the very first Greenpeace volunteers in South East Asia. Inspired by their success in preventing dumping of radioactive wastes at sea, his Greenpeace days started out climbing a crane with a banner that said “Australia Stop Wasting Asia”, on a ship dumping toxic waste off Manila. “It was a way of telling the world what was going on, otherwise no one would know”. That sort of action – peaceful yet powerful, started a career Mark chased with a passionate desire to make change.
Now, as the Regional Oceans campaigner for Greenpeace SE Asia, his key focus is on preventing unsustainable fishing. He and his team have recently audited the tuna canneries of Indonesia and the Philippines – tracing the supply chain between fishing fleets and the product sold to consumers. It’s a difficult, often dangerous task to stop ‘fish laundering’, where illegal seafood is co-mingled with legal caught fish – hiding the true scale of the black market. But Mark wants consumers to know which companies rank as socially responsible, when it comes to the business of seafood.
Mark believes we are facing a seafood crisis, which consumers can help avert. “When the fish run out, the small scale fishermen will be left starving while the big fishing company owners can go into another business with their fat profits”. Mark has his work cut out for him. These communities literally have a life-or-death stake in having sustainable fisheries.
THE BLUE CREW
At the age of 23, Karina joined the Natural History Unit of the ABC where she worked for the next 7 years on blue chip wildlife documentaries as a researcher and eventually as a producer. Her spirit of adventure led her to living in Vietnam and Thailand for several years, where she made films in the Asian region for National Geographic and Discovery Channel.
Returning to Australia, Karina continued making documentaries in many genres including wildlife, science and anthropology. This allowed her to travel to remote regions and tell unique stories of nature from tribal perspectives. With her 6 month old son, she spent time living with the Samburu tribe in Northern Kenya and gained a deeper insight into the importance of connection to land.
In 2010, Karina took the job of commissioning editor of science and natural history at ABC TV. She oversaw the production of 150 hours of factual content before the desk job became wearisome and the wilderness called her back.
Her role as Head of Factual at Northern Pictures has allowed her to oversee content creation for broadcast series as well as director her own films. Karina has over 200 articles in print in nature magazines and is a passionate ambassador of conservation work in Australia.
As a passionate ocean conservation advocate, marine themed stories have always been Sarah's passion. She has worked on shows such as The Adventures of the Quest series, Island Life, Great White Matrix and Saltwater Heroes.
In addition to her film work Sarah has been working as an outreach producer and Director on the board of Take 3 For The Sea, a grassroots organization focused on reducing marine plastic pollution. Sarah has presented to over 3,000 nippers and their parents in surf-life saving clubs around Australia over the past three years. She has facilitated community beach clean ups clearing over ten tonnes of plastic pollution from our coastline. Working on BLUE has been the ultimate project for Sarah, combining her extensive marine based film work and her not-for-profit ocean advocacy work.
Her first feature film One Eyed Girl won the prestigious ‘Dark Matters’ award at the Austin Film Festival. Through her work on The Turning (Berlin Film Festival) she participated in the prestigious Berlin Talent Program in 2014.
BLUE was a very different kind of project for Jody, although it played to the strengths of her work, which is known as darkly atmospheric. She says, “It’s always the story first that gets my creative mind ignited to the possibilities for the visual storytelling of a particular project. With BLUE it was the promise of telling the story of the oceans that immediately made me excited about being a part of the film. As a diver I have seen many of the wonders of the ocean’s depths over the years, however when I read the script for BLUE I was presented with an opportunity to represent the many different challenges of our oceans in a distinct and lyrical way. We found a gentle observed approach that strayed from the traditional wildlife style allowed us to impart a tone of reflection throughout the film. Some sequences feel more like a piece of dramatic narrative between our characters and the oceans than documentary. For me the film is a calling for change but with a breath of fresh air to come closer, look deeper.”
Jon was drawn to working on the documentary BLUE by his passion for arresting the perils that face the ongoing sustainability of the world’s oceans.
“Coral bleaching, dwindling shark numbers and the outcome of today’s overuse and disposal of plastics in our environment are issues I witness repeatedly through my work. Its been great to be a part of production that’s taking those issues to the people through film”, Jon said.
Jon’s love for using the most advanced filming technology allows the audience a seemingly real-life glance into the environments he captures on film.
Vanessa says, “For so many of us, the ocean is the last great wild space we have at our doorstep. I have been lucky to be able to explore some of our beautiful coastline in a small yacht, and I now live in a small town on the NSW far south coast where I see firsthand the way ocean change is affecting the lives and livelihoods of those who live by the sea”.
“The challenge with BLUE was to keep the viewer engaged emotionally while also gripping them on a rational level. Ultimately, I feel that the greatest strength of BLUE lies in the spirit of the activists we follow in the film. I hope that their determination to fight for the ocean, and not turn away from the devastation they witness every day, will leave the audience with a sense of their own empowerment, and the will to act.”
Ash has won six W.A. Screen Awards, in 2007 won an APRA/Australian Guild of Screen Composers Award for Best Music for a Short Film (Iron Bird), and has garnered nine other nominations at those awards.
Ash was also composer for the acclaimed 2017 Perth International Arts Festival opening event, Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak.
Ash says, “The sheer beauty of BLUE as a work of cinematography and the importance and power of its message were both inspiring and intimidating to work with. It was tempting to compose to grandeur and the darkness of the film, but it was important to give the audience the room to feel their own emotions in relation to what they were experiencing. This meant finding a subtle balance of instrumentation and tempo to support the images and enhance the broad yet shifting pace and moods”
“Scores like this are always the most challenging, as a single chord change or instrument can push it too hard in a certain direction. In the end, the music for BLUE doesn’t overwhelm the power of the story, but instead negotiates the moods and shifts in pace and place with restrained sensitivity.”