What are two of your most memorable experiences diving/swimming with sharks?
“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to Earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” - Jacques Yves Cousteau
Photography by Luke Gouvignon at Clifton Beach, Tasmania
My name's Talitha and I am a 19 year old Australian who was born on the West Coast. I spent my gap year living in a very tiny tourist town (with a local population of about 200) named Coral Bay, located right next door to the Ningaloo Reef. I now live in Tasmania, where I have almost completed my first year of a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science, majoring in Marine Biology. When I'm not studying I love to surf, cook plant-based meals with ingredients we source from our local farmers market, and explore the wilderness of our new home. I love to learn, and I am regularly discovering new ways to decrease my environmental footprint.
Talitha wears the Coral Garden Wrap Over Crop & Mid Rise V Pant
Did you grow up in Tasmania? What do you love most about living there?
I grew up in a coastal town named Albany (located four hours south of Perth, Western Australia) and moved to Tasmania in February of this year. I was a little bit worried about moving over because I definitely prefer the warmth, however the unique and rugged landscapes of this island makes the cold so much more worth it. It is so hard to decide what I love the most. Everyone is extremely friendly, there are so many flora and fauna species that are endemic just to Tasmania, and I love that it feels like I'm living in a massive country town rather than a city with towering sky scrapers. We can see Mount Wellington from our house and my university, and during winter it often snows on the top which is an incredible view! There are so many places to be explored. I don't think I have ever visited a place that comes even close to Tasmania's coastlines and temperate forests, and not to mention the lack of crowds while surfing! It could be the weekend, offshore the whole day and there would just be myself, my partner and a few other people out. It is definitely a wild wilderness, with most of the West Coast being largely unpopulated and full of isolated national parks and reserves.
Is sustainable living the norm in most parts of Tassie, or is there still a long way to go?
I think that, in general, Tasmanian's are a lot more environmentally aware and conscious than many other states. Plastic shopping bags have been banned since 2013, which is a law that only recently came into place in Western Australia. Just a three minute walk from my university is an incredible little bulk food store that does lunches. It is completely run by volunteers, and everything is vegetarian and waste free. Just about every person I've come across is practising sustainable living in one way or another, and with all the unique ecosystems in Tasmania I think many people acknowledge the importance in conserving and protecting the natural landscape. There are major pushes from the locals to keep the Tasmanian wilderness as untouched as possible, such as 'Keep Tassie Wild', which is a profit-for-purpose business that donates 50% of their earnings to local environmental charities. I believe there is still a long way to go, however I think Tasmania is definitely leading the way.
What does being out in nature mean to you and where's your special place?
Being out in nature, to me, means letting go of the “human” world and delving deep into our natural world. Most people in a first world country have become so accustomed to the comfort of our human world: the safety and security of a roof over our heads, unlimited supply of food and water, and air conditioning and heating to reach our satisfying temperature. It is so easy to forgot that 'we are part of nature, not apart'. When we are submerged in the natural world we are exposed to the elements, reminding us that we are still, indeed, creatures of instinct like the organisms around us. Being out in nature serves as a reminder of that connection, and helps us let go of the expectations that a human society holds of us. It means exploring the land that our ancestors thrived on, and observing the intricate interactions and biodiversity of the flora and fauna that surround us.
My special place changes depending on the environment that surrounds me. When I was in Coral Bay that place was on the Ningaloo, where I would spend hours immersed in the reef and observing the abundance of colour and life around me. In Tasmania it is either surfing or exploring the temperate rain forests or raw coastlines. It is anywhere that reminds me that time is man-made, and challenges me to live in the moment (as cliché as that sounds).
Tell us about Echoes of the Tide?!
Echoes of the Tide is a blog that I decided to create in June of this year. I love to write creatively, but I also love to share what I am learning at university and my journey with a sustainable lifestyle. I started sharing my thoughts and facts on Instagram posts, however there is a character limit which can be difficult when you're trying to put forward what you are wanting to say and have to cut out sentences to fit it all in. There's so many interesting concepts I've learnt in this year alone, such as Antarctic Krill have the ability to lose their sexual maturity during Winter to conserve their food stores, and the mating call of Weddell seals is one of the most unearthly noises I am sure anyone has ever listened to. Whilst studying a science degree I have realised that perhaps the biggest issue scientists face isn't the research itself, but communicating this research to the general public. Before I started my degree I had never read a scientific journal, I didn't know that Google Scholar existed and I had a very little understanding of finding and recognising credible sources. Through google we have access to thousands of websites with just one click of a button, and I've come to learn that it is so important to be able to recognise pseudoscience and to call out websites that are misinforming people through cherry picking or using unreliable sources. I've realised that it would be a waste to spend so much money on a degree if I wasn't willing to share what I learn and discover, especially when there is so much misconception about environmental issues such as climate change. Echoes of the Tide is a platform for me to share my thoughts, the knowledge that comes with a degree and perhaps to educate people on these environmental issues that I am confronted with.
What has your freediving journey been like?
When I lived in Coral Bay I was snorkelling just about every day between shifts, so that's when I started properly getting into free diving. I remember the first time I wore a weight belt while diving on the Ningaloo, I sunk to the sand and kept as still as I could. Within a couple of seconds this tiny fish swam right up to my face and was just hovering in front of my mask! It was a really eye opening experience for me, because I had never previously thought of fish as curious creatures. It wasn't until we left Coral Bay and were back in Perth over Christmas that I completed my Stage A with Apnea Australia. The course consisted of theory, pool training and open water dives. I learnt so much about how our bodies respond to submersion via the dive reflex, and it is amazing how quickly our bodies can adapt to the changing environment. I am so glad I completed this course because I discovered there were so many times I had potentially put myself in danger, such as diving all by myself, not matching my dive times with my recovery times and also showing early signs of hypoxia. I haven't done much freediving in Tasmania, so I have mainly been training through dry static breath holds, which I love to do to challenge myself and watch them improve! We are heading back over to Western Australia for the summer and I am planning on (hopefully) completing my Stage B. My biggest dream since I was 14 has been to free dive with humpback whales in Tonga, which I am doing next September. So I am really excited to continue to challenge myself and become more comfortable with longer and deeper dives.
What has been your favourite encounter to date with a marine animal?
It is so hard to pick just one! It would have to be out of our encounters with humpback whales in Exmouth, or dolphins in Monkey Mia.
As we worked full time in Coral Bay, we would get 1-2 days off a week. We would usually go up to Exmouth on these days (an hour and a half north of Coral Bay) and spend the whole day surfing. Exmouth is a haven for whales during humpback season, as they rest in the Exmouth gulf before they continue their journey back to the Antarctic. We had so many incredible encounters that would always leave me in absolute awe and fascination over their extreme curiosity. There were multiple occasions where pods or individuals travelled past very close to shore. One time an individual in a group of three spy hopped to check out the surfers, and another time there was one on its side just behind the breaks, pec slapping for about 15 minutes! Another incredible encounter was when my dad and my partner were surfing and I was watching on the shore, and this mother and calf was logging about 10 metres away from them.
Another extraordinary marine animal encounter was in Monkey Mia. Monkey Mia is renowned for it's dolphin interactions, so we stopped by for two nights on our drive back down to Perth. All the dolphins are wild, however over generations they have become extremely comfortable with humans due to fisherman feeding them many years ago. The whole two days we were simply sitting in the shallows, watching the dolphins swimming past. My partner decided to grab two shells and “clap” them together to make a tapping noise to see if the dolphins would respond. I was sitting right beside him in ankle deep water, and this female swam straight to us, almost over our laps, checking out what the noise was! She then swam away and turned around to check it out again. It was truly incredible to witness her intelligence and curiosity first hand.
Tell us a phrase that means something to you?
“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to Earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” Jacques Yves Cousteau
I love this quote because I think it represents the true mystery of the sea. It's the only place on our planet where humans are weightless, and one of the last few places that isn't inhabited by our own species. I think it is also the only place where many people truly feel free, which that in itself should be enough to make our oceans and its organisms worth protecting.
Photography by Maximillian
Batubolong & Echo Beach, Indonesia
Tell us about yourself?!
Hello, I'm Maya Joshua Fernandez from the Philippines and I'm half Filipino, half Japanese. I currently live in Bali where I'm a makeup artist and a soul surfer in my free time! I love spending time at the beach, inviting good friends to watch sunsets or even alone. I would say I'm an introvert and I love Filipino, Indonesian and Japanese food. I keep a few people close to my heart and treasure all of them..I'm a random person but I'm nice and I don't bite!
Describe your lifestyle in three words?
Surf, Makeup, Energy
How long have you been surfing for and where's your absolute favourite place to ride waves?
I've been surfing for about 2 years now but most of the time I can't say I had the chance to surf on a daily basis as there's time that requires me to go off the island. Ever since I got back to Bali last year, I decided to stay the whole year to focus on surfing and my career. This time has helped me to reflect on the past months and focus on myself and the waves. I can say my favourite spot is Batubolong beach. I always go on the left break but when I have the chance to fly out of the island, I will head straight to East Java!
Having a career as a makeup artist in the fashion industry, do you prefer to use ethical beauty brands?
When I was learning back in the Philippines I didn't have enough knowledge and access to sustainable ethical brands. As I have grown in my career and continue to do so, I have met many people who have inspired and motivated me to support sustainability and the use of ethical beauty products! Recently I was gifted by an L.A based makeup brand that promotes a cruelty-free and vegan based makeup. I am so grateful to be given the chance to explore more and create looks using ethical and sustainable beauty brands.
What's your favourite makeup look/s that you've done to date?!
One of my favourite makeup looks I've done so far is the shoot I did with one of my favourite photographers in Bali, her name is Sharon Angela. The shoot was for L'Officiel Indonesia. It was a very creative and unforgettable one.
The second look was all about women empowerment and divine feminine. A shoot created by Wedda Sattya and my best friend Yasmin Suteja. This shoot has grown on me and made me proud of what I do for a living. I'm so happy to be part of such amazing projects.
Have you seen much change in Bali with conscious living towards plastic consumption, recycling and looking after the environment? If so what kinds of change?
I'm aware of so many changes here in Bali, especially in the area where I'm living. I can definitely see people trying in their own way to contribute to recycling plastic and helping the environment as a community. It's thrilling to see as it's proof that people are waking up and individual efforts all make a difference.
Tell us a phase in your life that has been of great significance to you?
The time I left the Philippines to build a career in Bali. As a Filipino not knowing anything about Bali and western culture, it definitely gave me a culture shock! Also the fact that I did't know anyone from the fashion industry made me struggle a lot as an individual try to survive. Going through this rough patch ended up taking me down the right path. There is good energy, flow and a place that I call home. This experience has made me grateful about everything! Being able to live, surf and work and meet amazing people here always humbles me.
Photography by Alec Weir
Location Port Wiillunga, South Australia
Hi Mariah! Tell us about yourself?
I am currently in my final year of my undergraduate degree of Animal Behaviour and throughout my degree, my love and passion for the ocean and marine conservation has grown extensively. I have been involved with many different conservation organisations that have contributed to my desire to work with marine animals in the future. I am constantly trying to improve the world around me by living as sustainably as possible, whether that be through the food I eat, or reducing my use of single use plastics or investing in ethical and environmentally friendly brands, such as Shapes in the Sand.
Tell us about your whale tail necklace, does it have a special significance to you?
My whale tail necklace is from Sea Shepherd, who I am a volunteer for and have been for over two years now. It is handmade from driftwood so each one is unique. It serves as a reminder of what we’re fighting for every day. I’d love to have the opportunity to swim with whales in the wild one day.
What’s your relationship with Kaikoa Conservation?
Kaikoa Conservation are a Hawaiian based marine conservation organization and I am an Ambasador for them here in South Australia. Along with two others, we organize beach cleans and fundraising events to raise awareness of the issues impacting our marine environment such as plastic pollution, overfishing, climate change and much more. I have been an Ambassador for them since February 2017 and love working with them and being able to help them continue their amazing work!
As a #ReusableLifeAmbassador, what are you 5 reusable items that you do not leave the house without?
I always have in my bag my metal drink bottle, keep cup, cutlery set, straw and a produce bag of some sort. Just having these five reusable alternatives can help eradicate almost all single use plastics in your every day life when out and about.
Do you have any advice for others who would like to implement more sustainable practices into their lifestyle? Any hot tips?!
The issue of plastic pollution can be extremely overwhelming so don’t beat yourself up when you accidentally use a plastic item or forget to ask for no straw. To start with it can help to collect all your rubbish in a glass jar so you can physically see all the rubbish you’re producing and where you need to cut it out. From there, refuse any plastics you can and remember to bring your reusables, I always say if I don’t have my keep cup then I can’t get a coffee that day. It could be good to start with the ‘Big 4’ of single use plastics: bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups. Start with these four then expand to other areas. Going to beach cleans and following plastic free accounts on Instagram really help keep me motivated to reduce how much plastic I bring into my life.
Tell us a phrase that means something to you?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
This is my favourite quote of all time. A lot of the time I get people telling me that what I’m doing won’t make a difference or that they don’t want to change their ways because they’re just one person and it won’t do anything, but this quote reminds me that each of us have our role to play on this earth and if we all do our part then we can make a difference. Every action we do every day has an impact, just be sure that it’s a positive one.
Tell us a little about your background and where you grew up!
I am a Pyemairrenner woman, Aboriginal to Trouwunna/Tasmania, but I grew up on beautiful Bundjalung country in northern New South Wales. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood close to country, swimming in the ocean and hanging out with animals.
Nature is such an incredible source of inspiration and it’s clear that it plays an important part in the development of your music. Where’s your favourite place to date that you have been inspired by to create sounds?
I recently moved to Narrm/Melbourne where I have less access to alone time in nature. I am still trying to navigate how creativity works for me in this new environment. My favourite place to sing is by bodies of water, whether it’s the slow rhythm of the ocean or the gentle giggling of a stream. The sound is so musical and makes me want to sing. Crickets remind me so much of home, and frog calls. I love singing with them too.
What’s the significance behind the name Willow Beats?
The word “Willow” is closely tied to early memories Narayana has of his father and my grandfather. The beats part got tacked on somewhere down the line and it stuck!
Do you have any sustainable practices that you implement into your day to day life?
We would love to hear them!
I carry a waterbottle, but at the end of the day ethical consumerism is still a big trick to keep us complacent when really the entire structure needs to change. Sustainable living is also really inaccessable to those from lower socio economic backgrounds. It’s expensive to shop ethically. I volunteer (when I am not touring) at an amazing organization called Seed Mob, it’s a climate coalition run by young Indigenous people. Indigenous people are the first to be affected by climate change, islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Torres Straights are already being affected by rising sea levels. Support First Nations people to protect country. Stay educated, stay woke, broaden your perspective.
Define “Less is more” in your own words
I didn’t know I needed all this stuff until you told me I did and it didn’t make me happier.
What is the next stop for Willow Beats?
I am still riding the high of our Debut Album release. We have our debut album tour coming on in March which is very exciting. Until then I will be writing music and spending some much needed rest time at home.
A quote that is significant to you?
“It’s not a lot but we do our best”. My mother would always say this when presenting people with the most luscious homegrown meals. Anything we needed she would build from scratch and it was always luxurious in its simplicity. Afternoons were spent picking herbs and soaking in a tub over a giant fire outside. She managed to create joy throughout my life with simple pleasures. She is my sustainable hero.
Tell us a little about your background
I'm from a little village in the North West of England which has a coast...but you only every see the sea twice a day as the tide is huge over the mud flats. Instead my passion for exploring the sea started a bit more tropically in Malaysia. From a young age, every other year we would try visit my mothers family in Malaysia, and when we did we would visit the East Coast islands. How could you not fall in love with the sea there? That initial spark that ignited in those warm waters has driven me to pursue scuba diving and has let me to complete my degree in marine biology at the University of Plymouth.
What's your favourite marine animal and area of study?
My favourite animal (let me tell you this is not easy Alex!)...It's between a Mantis shrimp or a Manta Ray. Manta Rays because they are the most elegant thing in the sea. Huge, graceful and highly intelligent. Mantis Shrimp because they are so bad ass. They put into perspective how little we actually see the world. With at least 12 colour receptors on their retina to our puny 3, imagine how psychedelic the world is in their eyes!
You are currently in Malaysia and on the move. What have you been up to this past month?
I've come to Malaysia to visit the family. I couldn’t be on this side of the planet and not swing by! It’s been a well needed rest as just in the past month I’ve been diving with bull sharks in Fiji, watching scientists tag sharks to monitor the effects of shark feeding as well as trying to decipher the nursery grounds of Fiji’s sharks. I’ve also completed a diving course on twin tanks, GUE fundamentals, as even though I thought I was a good diver, I knew I could push myself to become even better. And then lastly I went on a photography trip to the Mecca of Macro, Lembeh with the fantastic underwater photography William Tan. Not only did we do the usual critter hunt in the day to scope out blue-ringed octopus, mantis shrimps and hairy frog fish… but we also headed into the middle of the strait for black water diving at night, luring in creatures of the night and deep, basically larvae and plankton. The coolest, most alien-like creatures I’ve seen.
What kind of positive change would you like to see towards our oceans? Is there an area you are particularly worried about?
There are so many things hitting the oceans currently, a lot of these impacts the oceans can buffer against if given time. But something the oceans have never had to face before is plastic pollution. I know a lot of people are working to solve this issue, but especially being in Asia at the moment, I can see a lot of people still don’t know, still don’t care. I’ve seen first hand plastic bags being pulled out of dead turtles that have washed up. If the whole world doesn’t act together, we are going to lose a lot of our beautiful marine life.
How long have you been diving for? and what is one of you favourite dive spots to date?
I’ve been diving since I was 12. I lucked out big time as my dad loved scuba diving so I naturally had my diving buddy. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the red sea earlier during my scholarship year, and we dove quite relentlessly within the Ras Mohammed National Park in the North. It was brimming with life and colour. We timed it for fish spawning, so were able to see huge schools of bohar snapper, barracuda, bat fish…and my favourite, schools of puffer fish!!!! It was probably one of the few places I’ve been to that showed me what seas all around the world should look like.
A phrase that means something to you..
Every Action has a Reaction. – I learnt this one in school and initially used to think it applied to the way we treated others around us. I still believe that, but now also apply it to the way we treat our world in our day to day. Especially when some of us live so far removed from nature and the oceans, we can hardly see how one little thing can have a repercussion. But reactions are inevitable, we’re all connected to each other and our environment.
"Buy less, choose well, make it last."
- Vivienne Westwood
Photography by Julian Calo
Location // Guincho Beach, Portugal
Tell us who you are, where you’re from and what gets you out of bed in the morning.
I am Margot, a French girl from the Franco-Swiss region where french writer & philosopher, Voltaire spent the last years of his life. Together with my partner in life and at work Julian, we recently moved to sunny Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. I sleep with the blinds open so that I wake up as the sun rises, usually to the thought of a slow early morning, drinking mate, (the traditional Argentinian drink, featured in pictures) with Julian, and the joyful opportunity to share the mission of The Pastel Project.
With Conscious living on the rise there is now an abundance of Eco bloggers teaching people and showing them how they can live a more eco lifestyle. We love that you live this kind of lifestyle. Describe your style of living and how you implement sustainable living into your day to day lifestyle.A conscious lifestyle is about understanding the choices you’re about to make and being deliberate in all your decisions. This involves both sustainability and ethical perspectives. So, implementing a sustainable living into a day to day life is thinking and choosing for the long-term. Fashion wise, I buy fewer but better quality. I mainly choose brands that create products with a purpose that is either good for workers, communities, the environment, or if possible all of those. Beauty wise, I use fewer products and put on greener make-up and cosmetics. In terms of food, I choose a plant-based diet that is good both for my health and our planet. I try to always buy in bulk. I seek to reduce the waste that I may produce by refusing anything disposable. I bring my reusable tools with me everywhere I go, and I select products with less packaging or none. Altogether, these actions help me to reduce my carbon footprint for a better circular economy.
“Less is more”- It seems very simple doesn't it! Describe the Less is more concept in your own words.
I think it’s about Seduction. What seduces is often not actually there. When I speak of seduction, I don’t necessarily mean it with sexual connotations, but more like any kind of appeal. There has to be space for imagination. I often think that’s why art galleries are usually completely white, and it is certainly why minimalism has become so present in the last 50 years, not only in the arts, in all fields, especially in design (home design). Simple things transmit a feeling of peace and calm, and that comes with taking things slower and consciously enjoying the important things in life more. The more obvious thought is that it is about quality, not quantity, in all aspects of life. When it comes to materials, it’s about taking care and appreciating what we already have rather than jumping into the rat race of having more and better. The subject also makes me think of color saturation. It’s hard to look at a photo that is too saturated. It’s too much. Most people don’t like it when something is too much, and a lot of people only realize it after getting carried away with things thinking the more, the bigger, the faster, the better. Have you ever gotten that feeling of something being too much and therefore being overwhelming? What I basically mean by all this is that not only the planet would appreciate more a little less of everything, but also our souls. The concept is about cleaning our physical and mental space, and there is a thin line between knowing what we truly need and what we just want, and today’s advertising strategies do not help. In the end it’s a question of mindset and finding the right balance for ourselves.
Where do you see The Pastel Project headed in the future?
There is always room for improvement and we want to continue inspiring as many people as possible to live a more sustainable life. For that reason, we are working on the idea of sharing men's fashion and self-care.
What’s your number one go to Eco product? (It can be anything!)
The first go-to eco product that comes in my mind right now is the 100% compostable flax straw waste based iPhone case from Pela.
Being naked is the #1 best sustainable option. Eco and fair clothing is the #2 best sustainable option.