2019 Sustainable travel, marine conservation, and cultural immersion

In 2019, I will focus on publishing more about marine conservation, sustainable travel tips, and cultural experiences I’ve had traveling. These are topics that excite me and easy for me to write about. As I settle into this next chapter, I want to share more about my passion for the ocean, sustainable traveling, and connecting with people.

Blue Starfish Wakatobi

Yall should know by now, I LOVE SCUBA DIVING.

Most of my travels has been specifically to go scuba diving. The entire process is electrifying for me. From waking up at 6am, gearing up, log rolling into the water, swimming through the schools of fish, and everything in between….right up until I lay my head down to sleep because of pure exhaustion. All of it excites my soul.

Countries I’ve scuba dived:

  • Malaysia (PADI - Open Water Certification)

  • Philippines

  • Indonesia (PADI - Advanced Open Water Certification & SSI - Rescue Diver Certification)

  • Thailand

  • Belize

  • Vietnam

With the exception of Belize & scuba diving in the pool tank at Epcot DisneyWorld…. majority of my hours underwater has been in Southeast Asia. *disclaimer I am biased* BUT…. they don’t call it the Coral Triangle for nothing. Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, has some of the most pristine, untouched coral reefs in the world. From endless swaying field of soft coral to the multiple giant manta rays feeding in strong currents. The Coral Triangle has it all.

Coral Wakatobi

The Coral Triangle has been on my radar, since I started watching National Geographic and BBC’s Blue Planet as a kid. (shoutout to my dad for mixing in animal documentaries in between Rugrats & Disney movie). Extensive research has been done about the coral triangle, yet we know more about the moon than we do about our oceans. Despite the billions (USD) in charity, NGOs, and conservation programs, the ocean still needs more attention and care. Covering more than 70% of our planet, our ocean is the most important ecosystem. It regulates our climate, the air we breathe, and the food in your fridge.

World Wildlife Fund For Nature: Coral Triangle http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/coraltriangle/

World Wildlife Fund For Nature: Coral Triangle http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/coraltriangle/

For my master’s thesis, I looked for topics I truly cared about because the next 2 years would have been painful if I didn’t. So much thanks to my advisor for reminding me how much I love scuba diving. I found research articles and countless authors who wrote about marine conservation, marine protected areas, and sustainability, BUT something was missing….the perspective of fishers! As a social scientist, I wondered why wasn’t there more research done with fishers as the main voice of these marine protected areas?

Fast forward to finishing my thesis…I was awarded a Fulbright grant to continue my research in my dream location: Wakatobi National Park, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia

2018 I spent the year in Indonesia doing research about marine protected areas from a social scientist lens. Given my ancestral background, many asked why I didn’t choose Vietnam. Well, I have a love for scuba diving and research. Indonesia is arguably in the heart of the coral triangle. So, WHY NOT combine my love for scuba and research in the heart of the Coral Triangle?!

WWF: Coral Triangle http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/coraltriangle/

WWF: Coral Triangle http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/where_we_work/coraltriangle/

There are endless reasons why the Coral Triangle is significantly important. Personally, I want to scuba dive with whales and sharks. Morally, because it’s the right thing to do and balancing nature and people for future generations to enjoy beyond watching BBC and National Geographic documentaries.