Oceano Martina interview - Giving the ocean a voice
Photo by Maru Brito
We asked Martina is she could describe it is that she does
She is a scuba diver and an environmental journalist with the purpose of giving the ocean a voice. She wants to defend the sea and be the voice that the ocean doesn't have.
"I believe that the main reason why we are damaging the sea so much is due to how little we know about it. It's not possible to protect what is not known. With my stories and images I seek to show people how incredible the sea is. I know that if I make them fall in love with the sea the way I did, then, for sure, they will want to change their habits and protect it" - Martina
Martina has developed multiple environmental projects including Coral Nation, which is a coral restoration NGO. She has filmed her documentary Missing Sharks, to create awareness about the need of sharks in the ocean. She has created Women of The Ocean Program an organisation to bring women together to connect with the ocean. And she writes environmental articles for PADI and other media.
We asked Martina where she grew up and what was her first memories about the ocean:
"I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, far away from the ocean. I have a great memory actually in Argentina, when i was a little girl. I travelled with my family to the coast. My dad and I went for a swim, I was on my dad’s shoulders and a couple of dolphins came and started swimming around us. I was so amazed and surprised, I thought it was the best thing ever. That's why probably later, when somebody would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would answer a dolphin trainer, until I realized this was bad for the dolphins and later changed my mind. But I can say it was love at first sight and I like to think that my dream of spending time in the sea surrounded by sea creatures was always there, ever since I was a child." - Martina
We asked Martina when in her life she knew she wanted to explore the ocean, and when in her life she knew she wanted to dedicate her life to protect it:
"Before I started exploring the ocean I lived in the city. I had finished my career in communication and I was working in a fashion marketing agency but I was not happy. I knew that there was something else, I needed a change. I worked, saved money and went out to look for that change.
I was 22 when I prepared went backpacking. On one of my trips I went to Thailand where I went scuba diving for the first time. I remember very clearly that first moment underwater when I thought: "how come all this has always been here and no one told me about it.” I couldn't believe no one had ever talked to me about the sea, not at school, nor at the university.
That day I hugged the sea forever to never let it go again. It turned into my compass. I travelled to find it and to find myself" - Martina
"6 years ago I arrived in Mexico to learn to dive and had my first encounter with a whale shark, the biggest fish in the sea. "Jump!" the captain shouted, I didn't even had time to hesitate, before I realized, I was in the water swimming right next to the biggest fish of the ocean.
This powerful encounter changed my life and my way of understanding our planet completely. It made me understand the power of the sea. I had always been taught that we, human beings, were the owners of nature. While I was swimming right next to this amazing creature, I realized that we are just a tiny part of nature. It also made me wonder how we, being so small, can be causing so much damage to something so powerful and amazing as the ocean.
I recognized that a big reason for this massive environmental problem was the ignorance surrounding its existence. So, I considered that the best thing that I could do was to contribute "my grain of sand" to the ocean that I love so much; I had to start communicating its threatened state. Living so long in the city gave me the opportunity to understand that many people do not always, and may never, have the chance to encounter underwater creatures face to face as I did. But I was sure that if they knew about it, or if they had any idea of the incredible marine life that lives under the waves, then they would also fall in love with the sea. And, hopefully, they would consequently want to protect it too." - Martina
As Martina has dived many places in the world we would love to know what her favorite place diving had been so far:
"I really loved Molokini Island, in Hawaii. It is a crater island. I remember when I went to the bottom of the ocean and looked around I saw so many tiny fish of different colors, I loved them, it was looking so colorful. It was like swimming in a bag of skittles.
I also loved free diving here in Baja California because I got the chance to swim with more than 50 silky sharks, it was a completely extreme experience." - Martina
We also asked what she always brings on your travels?
"I always bring my diving gear with me, a computer to work, a notebook to write and an amethyst I have had since I was very young that I really love. I sometimes take it to my dives too, haha" - Martina
As all adventurers you always have a dream of going and we asked Martina where she dreams of visiting:
"I definitely wanna go to Galapagos and French Polynesia. It was my plan to go last year while I was living on a boat but we couldn't cross because everything was closed due to the pandemic, now it’s the first place on my bucket list, and it seems like it is paradise for divers and shark lovers." - Martina
We asked Martina about some of the inspirational women in her life and who she looks up to:
"Sylvia Earl, Madison Stewart (@sharkgirlmadison), Cristina Mittermeier ( I really admire her story telling), my mom because she is the kindest woman and my grandma because she is an environmental lawyer of almost 90 years who keeps working for the planet, teaches at the university and decided to do a career in a time in my country when nobody cared about the planet and not many women studying." - Martina
We believe Martina has so many accomplishments to be really proud of already, but we asked what she herself is most proud of so far?
Missing sharks documentary "It is a documentary I did with 0 money, just to create awareness about the need of sharks in the ocean. It is a journalistic investigation about shark hunting in Panama.
The shark is demonized every day by the media and in movies and is suffering greatly from this. With this documentary we seeked to change the reputation of the most feared animal in the ocean, in order to protect it." -Martina
Women Of The Ocean program: "WOMEN OF THE OCEAN (WOC) is a program that I personally designed and created that works with the empowerment of women from the coast through their connection with the sea. Unfortunately, in the little island I was living, most of the local women didn't know how to swim, even though water was the main element surrounding them. With the help of my friends we worked hard to inspire the girls to connect with the ocean and to empower them and give them more visibility in the community. By focusing on women as important stakeholders in coastal communities, we can enhance coastal productivity, reduce inequality, and alleviate poverty giving them more working options." -Martina
With so many accomplishments in the backpack, what do you dream of achieving in the future?
"As a journalist I would love to work for National Geographic doing expeditions & ocean documentaries. I remember reading their magazines since I was very young.
I also would love to do more and more shark documentaries to keep creating awareness and protecting them ( I already filmed two but this is just the beginning)." -Martina
What advice would you give to someone dreaming of a career doing ocean conservation?
"We need people that protect the ocean in every working area. Of course science and biology are very important, but we also need lawyers, financial people, marketing people, divers, etc. In every job you have there is an opportunity to save the ocean and to save the planet. The first step is always to start. Think of what you can do to save the ocean today? I am sure there are plenty of little actions and options. I believe we all have a gift that we came to give to this planet, you just need to know which one is yours and start working towards creating a better world with it." -Martina
Lastly we wanted to know which VANDAYA jewellery piece is Martina favorite:
"The Fiji Shark Necklace, I love it, not just because it’s beautiful but because sharks are my friends and it relates to my purpose on this planet." - Martina
Find the Fiji Shark Necklace here
If you wish to follow Martinas journey, you can find her on Instagram here @oceanomartina
And you can watch her first documentary missing sharks here:
Thank you for reading!