Underwater Videographer, PADI Course Director, Conservationist
Growing up Don spent a lot of his time on water, but in its frozen state, skiing in the Alps. During a sabbatical, taking break from work, he traveled around the world and was introduced to the underwater world on Koh Tao, Thailand. It was love at first sight and Don spent the remainder of his trip diving wherever he could, eventually becoming a Divemaster.
Back in the world of Management Consulting, Don couldn’t really forget the world he had discovered under the sea. When more and more friends and colleagues asked where they could get certified, he became an instructor in Utila, Honduras, and worked at Utila Dive Center for a while. His next consulting project brought him to Shanghai, where for a while he was the only English-speaking dive instructor. Teaching diving on weekends he started to see first hand that educating dive students about the truth behind shark finning was changing behaviors.
A few years and a change of career later Don was in Hong Kong working in finance, and again teaching on weekends. This allowed him to not only meet a different set of people, but to pass on the importance about marine conservation to his students. His passion for underwater imaging, especially videography, brought him to remote places all across Asia, including Truk Lagoon, Palau, Komodo and Fiji.
While instilling a strong desire to help protect the ecosystem in all his students, Don felt there was more to do. He started giving presentations at high schools, often talking to over 400 students on topics of marine pollution and shark finning.
“Traveling, especially for diving, has shown me not only how beautiful, but also how fragile our marine ecosystem is. While people in the remote areas we go diving are keen to learn and help, issues such as pollution, and the decimation of sharks, cannot be solved locally, but must be tackled globally. The root causes of challenges such as shark finning, and thus shark protection, can only be solved by eliminating the demand. Hong Kong, sadly the world-wide center of the shark-fin trade, is the perfect place to educate people, especially the younger generation, about the effects of the shark fin trade. Usually people are horrified when they learn the truth and are very open and receptive to solutions. Several times people have come up to me and told me that they removed shark fin soup from their menu, which really made my day. But it is when I talk to the younger generation, that I feel we have the strongest impact in changing behaviors.
Working together with Shark Guardian and alongside these incredibly experienced conservationists is a humbling experience. I am looking forward to exchanging ideas, experiences and tools, more effectively reach out to those who really can, and will, make a difference in protecting and saving the marine ecosystem.”