Fact: The world has already lost 27 per cent of its coral reefs. Source: Oceans Without Borders, a marine conservation program initiated by the experiential travel company andBeyond. If this destruction continues, it is estimated that 60 per cent of the world’s coral reefs will be depleted over the next 30 years. “We are in more trouble than we have ever been in on the planet,” asserts Dr. Tessa Hempson, a marine biologist employed by andBeyond to pilot Oceans Without Borders. But the news isn’t all doom and gloom. “There is more awareness than there has ever been and more impetus for change,” she affirms.
With an increasing number of factors affecting the health of the world’s marine ecosystems, andBeyond is expanding its focus on wildlife conservation to include the protection and flourishing of our seas with Oceans Without Borders. Hempson’s position is new for andBeyond, and together they are creating marine-based conservation initiatives that include direct and socio-economic benefits to local communities while securing and improving the health of the marine ecosystems off East Africa. “I have always been passionate about reefs,” says Hempson, who has a PhD in coral reef ecology. “Science is essential and an amazing tool but doesn’t have the hands-on impact that I really want to be involved in. This position [with andBeyond] allows me to work with communities on the ground and work with people that have the finance, motivation, and global influence at the level that change needs to happen.”
Conservation is for all of us. “We all have to be engaged in order for us to have any shot at saving our reefs,” says Hempson. “Soon, ‘the sustainable way’ won’t be the way because it’s trendy, but because it will become the only way.” Oceans are seen as common property, and also an endless source of bounty because so few people have a sense of what’s below the surface. Global momentum has built in the past year to ban plastic straws, while some African countries have gone even further and banned plastic bags but as Hempson points out, there must be a “push to stop the source of the plastic.” Even more critical is the need for “a resetting of our norms to the way things should be.”
For those who are so inclined, andBeyond’s Vamizi Island will be offering immersive experiences, allowing you to go behind the scenes of andBeyond’s marine conservation efforts through the new Oceans Without Borders Small Group Journey. Led by Hempson, philanthropists along with enthusiasts will participate in the development activities that underpin the Oceans Without Borders initiative.
Never miss a story. Sign up for NUVO’s weekly newsletter.