I can remember being 4 years old, climbing into my grandfather’s rowboat, and experiencing this rush comprised of that “open road” feeling and maybe some innate desire to be a part of the water, particularly the ocean. As a toddler, I would beg my Dad to set the VCR to record the very first years of Shark Week, since it came on past my bedtime. The following day I’d have a VHS tape that delivered more joy than Christmas morning – or if the recording failed the feeling was more like accidentally loosening my grip on one of my first helium-filled balloons. A chance to get a glimpse of a shark or the ocean world had me absolutely frothing. 

My relationship with the ocean has changed of course, and still changes all the time. But it always advances. With every new bit of knowledge comes either some greater appreciation, a change in behavior, an uptick in respect, or most often a combination of all three.

"It feels like I've invested in the ocean, like I have some stake in its successes and failures."

As the knowledge accumulates, so do friends along the way and they share the lessons they’ve learned. Some are similar; some are different and brand new. I want to hear what they know and think because there’s always more to learn and who better to learn from than the ones you know and respect. 

Getting to know the uncommon people who share a common love for the water has brought me into a community I always hoped existed. I wished one day I’d be able to catch a glimpse of it. And all these years later, I finally found out that community is real and deeper and wider than I ever thought it could be. 

Those uncommon peoples’ love for the ocean is infectious through their stories and I love to hear them. I hope you do, too. The more people I can help hear those stories, the better the chance my favorite place on Earth has to thrive. 

It’s weird but it feels like I’ve invested in the ocean, like I have some stake in its successes and failures. Maybe all the underwater people I meet feel that way. I hope so. That feeling connects me to nature like nothing else can. That feeling gets me closer to being human.