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Nalua's Journey - From Changemaker to Marine Biologist

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

I was first introduced to the Save the Med Foundation back when it was named under Ondine and I was a young impressional girl that just started secondary school. Back then I had no idea what effects plastic had on our dearest oceans and the tainted future it had. They talked heavily about the Posedonia and that it was suffering immensely, so they decided what better way to show us how much it was suffering by taking us on a snorkelling trip. The trip was the actual first educational trip that caught my interest and since then I always had an inclining that in the future I would work in something regarding the sea. As I got older and got more informed about the current problems that our seas are facing, my interest towards the sea grew. I was determined that something had to change in order to save our seas from a possible death. At that time I knew that I wanted to study marine biology, but I still wasn’t sure.

At my school we were already starting the conversation of: there is a problem… how can we solve this. But there wasn’t enough motivation to actually take our words and convert them into actions. Until the Changemakers at sea competition came through and changed our lives forever. This was the first ever edition of the competition, and we just had to do a project on marine conservation… that simple. ‘Lokahi Makai’ was created. It was composed by 8 girls including myself from year 12 and year 13. I cannot even fathom how great our group was; we were all determined to make a difference, therefore the ball started to roll. We all had different but unique personalities where each one of us could carry out a specific and beneficial role in the team which we could combine to produce an amazing product.

So… what did we do? We did multiple things as we were such a diverse group. We first set off to different beaches and did mini beach cleanups of one hour. With the plastic found on the beaches we decided to do a mosaic that represented the state of the oceans. Then we set off to involve the younger kids at our school by doing plastic related debates and give them small talks about our project. We would film all these mini projects and make small little videos in order to post on our social media pages alongside a full documentary including everything we have done as a final product.We also had a project on fund-raising money for both Save the Med and Alnitak by selling our own t-shirts and selling plastic free products at our Christmas fair. We were very conscious of our demographic meaning social media was the key. We set up many accounts through several social media platforms and updated them regularly with related content.

During those weeks of work I learned a very valuable lesson; teamwork and communication are the key to success. It was truly amazing to see the impact we had on the people of our school and how younger students where starting to be more proactive in their day to day lives. People were more and more motivated to change their lifestyle in order to protect our oceans. Eventually the results came in and we won! We were invited on the Toftevaag research boat to work alongside a team of scientist surveying the coasts of Cabrera for a week.

Finally the week full of scientific research was here and literally I couldn’t hold my excitement. That week changed my life. We got to be real-life marine biologist for a week. We would survey marine species, learn about data logging and more about the consequences of plastic in the ocean but on top of that we would have prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner and clean the boat after. We saw pods of bottlenose dolphins, sperm whales and several species of fishes and birds. What really surprised me was the there was whales in Mediterranean! Therefore I was set on seeing one. One day, we were out in the deep sea, off the coast of Cabrera, we caught on to a whale by the hydrophone, hence there was one near us. The

You would only hear clicks and when clicks stopped that meant the whale was coming up to breathe and we only had 10 golden minutes before it went back down for a long time. So the clicks stopped and immediately everyone went all around the boat and silence. Dead silence. You could feel the excitement from everyone. Then we saw it from a distance, well… I couldn’t see it, as I cant see from long distances. Everyone was ‘ooing and aaing’ and I couldn’t see anything! I got the binoculars and just when the whale dived into the water, I saw its big tail. I was kind of disappointed as I thought it was my only time that I would see a whale, however we caught on to several clicks meaning there was several whales… a family. Therefore I was smart enough to go get my glasses just incase we see an other one. As soon as I put them on, I see it. I saw the whale coming out of the water. I started to freak out, what are the chances? It was destiny, fate.

Then I KNEW that I wanted to become a marine biologist. I wanted to do it for the rest of my life and I was determined to make a change for the better to save our beloved seas. That week changed me to the better and I’m so grateful to have experienced it with such amazing and inspiring people. Thank you for giving me such an opportunity that I would never forget.

When we were on the boat we were talking about the future of ‘Lokahi Makai’ as some of the group were leaving to uni. We didn’t know what to do but we had such momentum that we couldn’t stop right there. Our purpose was to make a change, spark a movement, redefine the future. Therefore we set of to keep on inspiring and motivating people to join the movement to save our oceans. We wanted to pass on the baton to the next generation, see what they can do to change the world. So we would go to different classes talking about ‘Lokahi Makai’ and our amazing experience on the boat. We had such a great response, the children actually wanted to make a change and we had parents coming up to us to thank us because not only we reached their kids we reached them also. Have you ever heard the butterfly effect? It’s a chaos theory that one little thing can create a series of events leading up which can effect a large complex system. The concept is imagined with a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a typhoon. And thats how I envisioned our journey, showing people that everything is possible, if we all work together as a driven force to change. That change has to start with you then it will translate to the rest of the world. I’m so grateful to be part of this journey and truly inspired with everyone that was working alongside us.

Our mission was complete, we passed on our legacy so to say. I’m happy to finally say that I recently got accepted into the University of Glasgow to study marine biology. I personally think, becoming a marine biologist is what I was born to do. I am destined to be around water, and want to study our oceans and learn about their endless phenomenons for the rest of my life. I know it sounds super sappy but once you experience something that you love so much it will truly convert you into a better person.

Lastly I wouldn’t be here confessing my love towards the sea if wasn’t for Save The Med Foundation. Thank you so much for transmitting your love to the ocean to me and to all the youngsters out there.

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