In 2014, Seasource Group began collaborating with established filmmakers Todd Tinkham and Ben Turney to create a web series profiling some of our state’s most remarkable ocean conservationists. We’ve uncovered a tightly connected community of powerhouses who support one another through thick and thin (mostly thin). Despite endless policy blows to marine mammal protections, petitions to allow offshore oil drilling and fracking, and repeals on clean water and air protections, they banter and persevere with joy and sparkle.
A tiny handful of the leaders who’ve fallen under our lens include:
Keith Rittmaster, one of the world’s top whale and dolphin researchers. Born to be wild, Keith rides around Beaufort, NC on a motorbike bedecked by a decorative shark fin. He’s usually heading to work in a tiny trailer-lab with no running water. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that his office might as well be in the middle of the Amazon. This year, he procured a portajohn, a boon for work conditions there at the Cape Lookout Studies Program. The MacGuyvering he and volunteer, Josh Summers have undertaken to safely catalog and store giant whale bones and skeletons demonstrates unparalleled genius. Fortunately, their tiny space is temporary. Help Keith and his colleagues progress beyond the portalet by donating to their bricks and mortar Cetacean Education Center project!
Bonnie Monteleone, another marine motorcycle maven and also Executive Director of the Plastic Ocean Project. Bonnie is an artist turned scientist who travels the globe removing plastics from the sea. She incorporates some of this into large-scale art installations used for educating school children about wildlife, environmental, and public health impacts of global garbage. She’s also collaborating with PK Clean to convert ocean plastics to fuel using a newly efficient closed-loop conversion system. Get involved!
Ginger Taylor, a psychotherapist who spends most of her free time volunteering on turtle conservation efforts. In partnership with Plastic Ocean Project, Ginger launched the Ocean-friendly Establishment (OFE) Certification program, which offers incentives to locally-owned businesses who adopt one or more sustainability practices. In under three years, Ginger recruited more than 80 enterprises all along our NC shoreline. Apply for your own OFE certification!
Jessica Murphy and Kevin Davis, owners of La Perla Restaurant in Morehead City. They are one of our favorite OFEs, and they created one of the tastiest meals we’ve encountered in North Carolina EVER. Also, if you ask them to make you a cocktail that tastes smoky, “like cigarettes and ribs,” they can totally do that for you. Contact them and find out how you can help them secure a new and larger space closer to town!
Lisa Rider, a surfing wahine eco-warrioress who reigns supreme at the center of it all. Lisa began rescuing ocean wildlife at a young age and now works in waste management for Onslow County. Her annual NC Marine Debris Symposium, Earth and Surf Festival, and numerous beach and scuba clean-ups have resulted in profound collaborations between researchers, scientists, artists, and passionate volunteers. She also skates like a roller disco queen.
Soul sucking human and media static envelops and overwhelms us with bad news each day. By sheer force of will, these NC coastal dynamos forge ahead as though all they hear is GOOD news. They remain fueled and driven by a common belief that directing their energies positively promises to yield results even if they never actually see those impacts themselves. It’s not about self-congratulations; it’s about the larger and more inherent good that accompanies stewardship.
Still, for these sea-loving tarheels, there is little time to communicate what they do to policymakers and citizens. This is where we come in. And since most of their efforts are a labor of love, we’re keeping ours that way too. Please be patient. Keith, Bonnie, Ginger, Lisa, and their Scooby Gang of Ocean heroes are far more FASCINATING than anything you’ll see on network television. We know that once you watch one segment, you’ll be hungry to see the others. To avoid any unseemly storytelling gaps, we will complete our first full series season before we release any episodes. Tune back soon!