Q1. Hello, could you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
What I do: I hope to spark thought and proactiveness in people to make more conscious positive choices in how they affect the ocean and their environment ie planet. I have a few different hats work-wise.
I am a passionate underwater photographer. I thoroughly enjoy meeting animals and sharing the encounters that I have with them. Naturally capturing a different side to the expected personality of that animal is a goal of mine.
I am a Rainforest Rescue Ambassador - I 1000% support planting of trees, rescuing and rejuvenation of cleared land and any land. The positive benefits are infinite as it trickles all the way to the oceans and hugely sustainable AND so efficient and effective for your money.
I am also a manager, producer, go-fer/runner, assistant, editor, sound gal, anything really that's needed to get the job done.
Q2. What sparked your interest in marine life?
As a child, the Singapore Zoo kicked things off with animals in general and all those National Geographic magazines my uncle collected. Also, my Kong Kong (grandfather) had ALOT of aquariums at his house with various kinds of goldfish, which was really cool to watch. Later in life, learning to dive really set this passion in stone and I immediately felt that divers high and I've been totally mesmerized ever since.
Photo Credits: Jasmine Carey
3. What drew you specifically to the photography of whales?
When I met Darren Jew he told me he swam with whales. I was in shock and disbelief. Swimming with whales, that's a complete unicorn moment, practically impossible.... maybe a pass here and there. A great interactive swim would be a total wonder. After a few months, the whale season came a free space came upon a boat and I had to see for myself. #LIFEchanging moment happened when a mother came up through the milky white waters and stopped inches from my frozen body, she saw me, she acknowledged me. Whales especially are the most fascinating characters of the ocean. They have a conscious choice to get to know you. There's so much to learn. Over the years Darren and I have really learned and witnessed through our swims their various behaviours and cheekiness, and still, there is more to learn, but with each swim, we are fortunate to get to know them and they know us that little bit more.
4. Could you give us some insight into your adventures out at sea? What does a typical day look like?
A day out at sea on a whale swim trip is an early start, 4.30 am wake for a 6 am quick breakfast for a 6.30 am transfer to the boat. 4.30 am -6.30 am requires, readying all the gear for us and the guests, including food, swim gear, ensuring all cameras are ready, and if any needs assistance doing that, packing the transfer taxi, making sure no guests are missing lol. 6.45 am load the boats, count guests again, check gear and food before we depart. On the way out the harbour, we check weather, tide, swell, wind with the previous day/ weeks encounters in mind and choose where in the islands to head out to start our whale spotting.
We have a great day of fun and adventure and head back to home base in the afternoon. While guests are showering or having a quick nap, all gear is washed and everything is unpacked ready for the next day and then it's time to download and edit images with our guests that want to learn about this for an hour or so roughly and even a short educational talk. Admin is squeezed in among all this but that is the bulk of a day whale swimming day. Then dinner and dessert! and catch up on anything that needs doing to keep things running as smoothly as possible.
5. Could you give us some backstory as to how you scored your award-winning shot: Essence of Life?
Photo Credits: Jasmine Carey
When the clouds started to roll in it really softened the light and the mood in the water. It almost felt like what could be an out of body experience, floating on the surface looking down, observing the mum and calf being so comfortable, raw and true towards each other. Obviously, they were aware of us but did not let that inhibit their bond. Watching it unfold, I knew it was magic and I just hoped that I would be able to do it justice. It definitely had all the makings of a beautiful image.
Being close to whales is the ultimate wildlife experience. To have an animal the size of a bus acknowledge your existence and be curious of you and genuinely interested is like nothing else. All your emotions what to erupt all at once and yet you feel cleansed of all life’s “problems”, all the heaviness on our soul just melts away. They really put things into perspective and give you so much joy.
6. Since you have a unique look into the lives of whales, is there anything unique and interesting about whales that many do not know about?
In a whale season, we could be in the water swimming with whales for over 60+ days consecutively (except Sundays as working Sundays is not allowed), I feel totally blessed, lucky and fortunate to be able to witness and learn about so many various encounters and interactions. Before being to experience humpback whales and now even orcas so in-depth, I didn't think they were so tactile as they are. Such large, 'awkward' creatures, with such conscious and gentle touches for each other. Such large creatures with barely any facial expression as we (humans) know it, lights up the oceans with their mannerisms and more than often subtle yet definite comforting touch. It amazing to me that even though we are both in totally different worlds ie land and ocean, we are both mammals and we are more similar than we choose to accept.
7. How are whales an integral part of the ecosystem?
Whales are vital as they re-distribute nutrients across the seas; essential to the marine eco-system, and the production of phytoplankton, which produces over half of the world's oxygen. This is known as the "Whale Pump".
Photo Credits: Whale Pump (Whale.org)
9. How do you think members of the public can help, with regards to the effects that climate change has had on marine life?
It's a huge ripple effect. I would for love people to:
Fall in love and reconnect yourself with the emotions animals use to give you when you were a child. The more you love them the more you'll want to protect them.
Be more proactive and conscious in their positive choices, eg leave a bucket outside and collect rainwater to water your plants, don't choose single-use plastics, collect your microplastics in your washing machine
Be active with #realconservation, don't beat yourself up if you forgot your reusable coffee cup
Support organisations that actually do something and are not just there to create awareness of issues we already know about
OH! and plant more trees.