Perhaps you are an accountant who loves to go SCUBA diving on vacation, or a high school student who loves fishing but does not excel at science. Is there a place for you in the fight to conserve our oceans? According to the non-profit Beneath the Waves – yes!
A Missing Piece
Beneath the Waves was founded in 2013 with a focus on shark research and conservation. Today, the non-profit broadly uses science to catalyze policy for the protection of the world’s oceans.
During this year’s COVID-19 lockdown, Beneath the Waves noticed a shift in the public’s focus on environmental issues. The non-profit experienced a timely uptick in public interest in ocean conservation that they attribute to a larger shift in public awareness of the natural world. “We started to notice…an increase in the amount of people reaching out asking for advice for how to get into the oceans discussion—on both a personal and professional level,” says Andi Cross, Strategy Director at Beneath the Waves.
The nonprofit speculates that the increase in people seeking involvement in ocean conservation efforts is directly related to the chaos created by the pandemic – that the upheaval may have led people to re-assess their priorities and allow environmental issues to take center stage.
While the elevated interest was exciting for Beneath the Waves, it also revealed a glaring problem: how can non-scientists become involved in ocean conservation? “The overarching concern for most people was that they didn’t have a science or research background, or weren’t close enough to an ocean to help,” explains Cross.
Realizing these missed connections, Beneath the Waves saw an opportunity to fill a void in ocean conservation.
The Crew: An Ocean-Focused Social Network
In conjunction with their June 2020 relaunch, Beneath the Waves proposed a new way for non-scientists to connect with ocean conservation opportunities: by fostering personal connection.
“Our relaunch marks a commitment among those on our team,” explains Dr. Austin Gallagher, Founder and Chief Scientist at Beneath the Waves. “It represents taking risks, being a bolder brand, sharing a stronger message, and providing a more inclusive concept.”
And so, “The Crew” was launched.
The Crew functions as a social network for people to learn about the ocean, discuss relevant issues, and connect to conservation efforts using the skills they already possess – no science background needed. “We have always believed that being a custodian of the oceans doesn’t require a Ph.D. or for you to live beachside,” says Cross. “It requires a wide variety of skills, backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences to come to the table and work together around a shared mission. We want to let people know that there are options for them—and even options for them right at their fingertips.”
With this mission in mind, The Crew aims to connect ocean advocates with actions that fit with one’s interests, abilities, and resources. The platform also offers mentorship and coaching opportunities, giving Crew participants the ability to learn from ocean conservation experts.
To maintain the platform’s focus, Beneath the Waves makes a point to meet with every new user to ensure The Crew is the right fit for a person’s goals and interests. In this way, Beneath the Waves seeks to create a rich platform of voices that share a common goal in conserving the world’s oceans.
According to Dr. Gallagher, the personal connections like those fostered through The Crew are essential for the development of innovative means of ocean conservation. “We can’t do any of this alone,” he explains. “We realized that if we could bring more incredible minds and passionate people from different areas of expertise together, we could get that much closer to restoring ocean abundance in the next 30 years.”
Since the announcement of The Crew in June, over two hundred people from around the world have asked to join. Given the reception the platform has already received, Beneath the Waves expects The Crew to quickly grow when it is officially launched in August.