Behind the Scenes: Ep 9
December 20, 2018
Megan here! Again. Honestly you can expect all blogs to be written by Megan unless otherwise specified. So - Chasing Coral. Zack Rago. Hope for the future. Let’s talk about it.
I’m gonna be honest, I never expected we’d get a response from “the Chasing Coral people.” I still can’t believe we did. I remember first hearing about the documentary and what the filmmakers hoped to capture. I had just wrapped filming a tv series in the South Pacific and my brain was still swirling with memories snorkeling and diving in the Great Barrier Reef and marine protected areas off the coast of New Caledonia. (True story: I FaceTimed my old roommate Kacie while snorkeling in the GBR. Great reception! Who knew?!) Everywhere we went in the South Pacific, we met people fearful of more bleaching events. So even though I had exactly zero background in marine sciences and was only a freshly certified diver, I could tell Chasing Coral would have a massive impact on the marine community, no matter what the filmmakers discovered.
Flash forward two years and we’re gathered around Char’s dining table with cables sprawled all over the place, connecting computers to microphones & phones to microphones & microphones to bodies. I’m going to admit to you all here & now that I do have the self-awareness to know that waiting for a recording session to start is arguably when I am at my grouchiest. Mostly because it’s nerve-wracking talking to experts about stuff that you love but know way less about! This time I was grouchier than ever because we were waiting for Zack Rago to hop on the line and he was my favorite part of Chasing Coral. So I guess you could say I was starstruck.
Turns out he’s spectacularly fun to talk to and made us feel super comfortable even though we’re about as far from scientists as you can get! Even though the film was released in 2017, Zack continues to work with the production company, Exposure Labs, in a capacity he’s clearly perfect for: the Youth Outreach Manager for Chasing Coral’s Impact Campaign. In this role, he travels around the country speaking to students of all ages about the beauty of the ocean, as well as its biggest threats. The main goal is just to open the eyes of these kids and young adults to an environment they likely haven’t seen before in the hopes of instilling a curiosity. As we’ve heard before: you can’t love what you don’t know. Most likely the result of his press conferences and tours to schools across the country, Zack is on his way to picking up the Teacher Voice, which my mom STILL uses on me even though I am not seven, like her students. But his willingness to patiently and thoroughly answer all of our many many many many questions meant we learned so much from the hour we spent chatting.
One of the coolest things we learned is that the Chasing Coral Impact Campaign makes it so easy to set up public screenings of this documentary! For those who prefer getting educated from the comfort of their own couch (i.e. me), the film is available on Netflix. But if you are interested in setting up a viewing in your community - at a school, community center, church, office, etc - the Impact Team has TONS of supplemental resources to make your screening more engaging! Click here to find out how you can register a screening in your community! My resolutions for 2019 include getting more involved outside the comfort of my apartment, so once Safety Stop Scuba goes on recording hiatus, fingers crossed we can pull together a viewing of this documentary. In the meantime, it's a great Netflix & Chill for those of you trying to impress someone with how much you care about the state of our oceans.
peace love and educating the youth of tomorrow!
safety stop scuba
December 7, 2018
Hi friends!! Make no mistake - just because Char’s melodious laugh seems like a distant memory doesn’t mean we haven’t been hard at work! We’ve been busy recording with guests around the world and spending time in the pool for our Divemaster certs. Char’s nonprofits have appeared at festivals and trunk shows all season, Sara has acquired approximately 8,000 specialty certifications in the last few weeks, and - as for me (it's Megan - sup) - I’m letting my bank account recover from the damage I did at the dive shop on Black Friday.
So - status update. We’ve got a tonnnn of new episodes on our slate, and we’re set to drop the first of ‘em on December 17th! We’re about halfway through recording, and every episode so far has been a blast. Not to mention we’ve remembered to press Record every. single. TIME!! Growing and changing, you guys.
With this new selection of episodes, we've been very fortunate to expand our guest list from our dive family to include members of the larger marine community who have all provided us with great insights on trying to protect our oceans on local and global levels. One of the themes that keeps coming up is how change starts one step at a time. I don’t know about you guys, but I get overwhelmed SO easily by all the calls to action: ban plastic bags! also straws! use reef-safe sunscreen! save the turtles! save the corals! save the sharks! save the whales! save the ocean!!! save the planet!!! It's paralyzing. But talking with some of our guests made change feel so much more tangible.
Zack Rago, who played an instrumental role in the 2017 documentary Chasing Coral, traveled with the film crew to install underwater timelapse cameras attempting to capture images of coral bleaching events. Since completing his work on the doc, Zack has continued to spread ocean awareness as Chasing Coral’s Impact Campaign’s Youth Outreach Manager. He travels around the country educating students of all ages about the wonders of the ocean - something I think I took for granted as a kid because I’ve lived at most 45 minutes from the water my whole life. What struck me most about how Zack approaches these students was something I will paraphrase the crap out of (check out Episode 9 “Throwing A Better Party” for his direct quote): you don’t have to be a top researcher or a filmmaker or a coral nerd to work on something for a cause you're passionate about. Chasing Coral had lawyers and accountants and careers of all sorts - people working within their career of choice in support of a greater cause. I can't imagine how rewarding that must be - and what a great lesson to start instilling in the next generation.
Speaking with Cy Scammell and Snow McCormick, who founded an activist group based out of Washington State called PNW Protectors, we learned a ton about grassroots organizing. These two angels on earth saw the devastating effects of human interference on the Salish Sea's population of Southern Resident orcas and instead of simply mourning the losses of these beautiful creatures, they asked a question: why is this happening? So they took it upon themselves to learn about the species, their habitats, and food sources. They spoke to environmentalists, marine biologists, and fishermen. After piecing together a clear picture of what was going on in their area, Snow and Cy took the next step: telling everyone else. As Snow and so many others have said, "If they don't know, they can't care." Through encouraging others to get educated and make their opinions heard to local and state legislators, PNW Protectors have started a movement in Washington State and beyond. All stemming from their passion for their home and the orcas.
These are just the first two episodes we've got for you but our list of upcoming episodes is long and features POWERHOUSE women working around the globe in support of their specific passions. We here at Safety Stop are so excited to start sharing these episodes with you all. We'll be posting more in-depth blogs about each guest/episode in the weeks to come - we are in such awe of these folks! Each one has truly inspired us to take more ownership of the changes we want to see in the world. We hope they inspire you, too.
peace love and baby steps to 4:00!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 6 & 7
October 9, 2018
A rare weekend recording session allowed us to capture two episodes back to back and gave us a chance to experiment chatting with guests remotely! Because a recording session without adding a new element into the mix just sounds too easy. We used a pretty user-friendly program to help record audio from our guests calling in from the UK and midwest which was so cool! It was the first time we got to expand our reach beyond Char’s living room - being able to connect with people worldwide really broadens the horizons for Safety Stop!
We were SO excited and a little nervous to have our first guest we didn’t already know personally - Saoirse Potte! Sara used her network of dive pals to get in touch with Saoirse, who is a biosciences grad student based in the UK! Saoirse talked to us about her thesis - tracking the population habits of the zebra(/leopard) shark in Mozambique, where she spent a whole year accumulating data in partnership with Marine Megafauna, All Out Africa, and Zavora Marine Lab. She explained to us that - like manta rays, jaguars, and many other species - zebra sharks can be identified as individuals by their unique patterns! So one of the cool facets of Saoirse’s research was developing a citizen science program called “ID the Leopard Shark” which provides a forum for recreational divers to submit underwater photos of leopard/zebra sharks to see if those individuals have been previously identified! Any additional information submitted with the photos helps drive Saoirse’s research creating an index of population data for this endangered species. And - if you're lucky and you submit a photo of a previously UNidentified shark - you get to name it! With great power....
We also got to spend some time chatting with Sara’s dad, Frank! Frank is one of our biggest supporters, and, as the main influence behind Sara’s interest in diving, we loved getting a chance to hear his stories! - though we’re sure Sara has heard them countless times before. How cool would it be to live in a remote bungalow with a pod of dolphins as your next-door neighbors spending your days searching for sunken treasure? What a life - we can only imagine how differently Sara would have turned out if Frank and his team had located any. But the stories live on! We are grateful to have had the chance to dive with Frank in Belize, and look forward to many more dives and stories to come!
As for the ladies of Safety Stop, we mayyyyyy have started planning a trip to Mozambique while still on the phone with Saoirse…. How could we pass up the opportunity to dive in tropical waters and name some sharks?!
peace love and dessert for breakfast!
- safety stop
Behind the Scenes: Ep 5
September 27, 2018
In true Safety Stop fashion, there’s no such thing as a dull recording session, and ohhhhhhh boy(s), was this week a doozy! We knew it was coming. Call it intuition, maybe it was the evil grins stretching across two bearded faces, or the impassioned high five that followed, but we knew instantly that asking our pals Fred Haemker and Ian Wells to be on the podcast would be entertaining - for themselves, at the very least.
Ian showed up with..... more mics!!! Can you imagine how much Sara regrets taking on the task of editing with four mics fired up? Our resident tech guru pulled some sound equipment out of his Mary Poppins bag of filmmaking gear and got to work testing audio levels while we laid down some ground rules for Dumb & Dumber (said with the utmost fondness).
The episode got off to a bit of a rocky start (we still haven’t mastered the art of hitting “record”) but fortunately for us, these gents are good friends of ours so they didn’t mind…. just gave us a lot of good-natured shit! Fred and Ian are both PADI & SDI Instructors and became great friends through getting most of their certifications together. Their unique bond is part of what nearly made us retract asking them to be on the podcast - when they’re together, you never know what’ll happen! Thankfully, short of a few too many “go deep” jokes, the boys behaved long enough to get through the episode and had fun with it! Dare I say... we may have even learned something!
peace love and baklava!
- safety stop