Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?
I'm a freelance journalist based in San Diego, California where I cover ocean science and culture for The Guardian, The Atlantic, Sierra Club Magazine, Hakai Magazine and other publications. I recently published my first book: The Imperiled Ocean: Human Stories from a Changing Sea (2019, Pegasus Books; 2020, Goose Lane Editions), a non-fiction collection of ocean essays that was featured in The Wall Street Journal, Lit-Hub and others. I am currently writing my second book about the race to map the ocean floor by 2030 (2023, Harper Wave).
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
I first fell in love with the ocean by reading books by and about long-distance sailors like Bernard Moitessier and Joshua Slocum, but over time my interests have evolved. I still love narratives about people striking out on adventure at sea, however, today I write much more about the environment, science and geopolitics surrounding the ocean.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
I have to thank fellow writers in the science journalism community. Reading their work and hearing their feedback on my own is what keeps me engaged in this exciting field.
What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?
Recently, I spent a week in the Gulf of Mexico diving into submerged indigenous sites that trace back thousands of years. I love thinking about how the coastline has changed over the centuries and how humans have adapted to the ocean of today.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I was the former writer and editor for Canada’s Vancouver Aquarium, where I helped produce weekly ocean science videos for the Vancouver Aquarium’s multi-media storytelling site, Ocean.org. While working at the Aquarium I met ocean lovers of all stripes: divers, scientists, taxidermists, veterinarians, the list goes on. It was my role to capture their love of the ocean and communicate it to a wider audience. I still carry their perspectives with me and I believe it makes for better, more inclusive ocean journalism.
What are your degrees and certifications?
I graduated from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada with a Master's in Creative Writing in 2018. I also have a Bachelor of Arts in English and German Literature from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada.
What are your hobbies?
As a writer, I do spend an awful lot of time reading books and participating in book clubs. I love going for walks on the beach with my dog.
What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?
I like writing stories outside the mainstream and I enjoy the challenge of explaining why pressed seaweed or ocean maps (for example) are important to the wider world. The best advice I can give is to follow your curiosity wherever it takes you, but to always keep one hand on the railing, so you can pull yourself back out of the rabbit hole and explain to everyone what you found down there.
How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?
I had been interviewing members of the OET staff for my forthcoming book when I got the chance to join the July 2021 expedition and see ocean mapping in real life.