Shark lover, marine conservationist and professional free diver Ocean Ramsey is taking on the plight of the sea’s largest beast one fin at a time.

Freediving conservationist Ocean Ramsey, an author, scientist, entrepreneur, model, designer, scuba instructor, and nonprofit founder, is determined to change the way we look at sharks in our oceans.

You founded One Ocean Organisation with your husband, Juan Oliphant, which helps untangle sharks from fishing nets and remove plastic from the sea. Tell us about your work

We help save sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, coral reefs, and more from entanglement that would otherwise be lethal or lead to continued long-term suffering. We also help people to stay safer by teaching them what to do, and not to do, in the presence of a shark, in a programme now open to the public seven days a week. The public can join us and our team out on the water as we monitor the shark populations for entanglement and record behaviour and environmental conditions for our ongoing studies, including our field ID database of identified sharks, which helps us to continue to grow our understanding of their movements and behaviour on an individual basis without the need for potentially lethal invasive techniques such as SAT tags.

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You offer a shark encounter experience in Oahu that received the TripAdvisor 2023 Travelers Choice for Shark Diving. Can you elaborate?

We guarantee people can see sharks in the water, so there’s a lot of return guests. Every dive can be a little different, and there are even seasonal changes with higher chances of seeing certain species. People come back to see different sharks, observe different behaviour, and witness other marine life like humpback whales, dolphins, monk seals and manta rays.

Shark lover, marine conservationist and professional free diver Ocean Ramsey is taking on the plight of the sea’s largest beast one fin at a time.

An extra big highlight for people is seeing and swimming with tiger sharks or whale sharks, which are rarer than the Galapagos sharks and sandbar sharks. So, we launched an Advanced Tiger Shark Programme last summer, and every participant encountered more than one tiger shark because it’s four hours instead of two.

During whale season, they can hear humpback whales singing, and sometimes the whales even swim right up to us while we are with the sharks. Juan, myself, and the other biologists and shark safety guides monitor the sharks for entanglement. We also pick up and remove marine debris that can harm dolphins, sea turtles, whales, and sea birds. We record data, including variables about the abundance and behaviour of the sharks, environmental conditions, and specific IDs.

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What are your travel plans for 2024?

I’m doing some presentations and projects in a couple areas of Mexico centred around marine life. I’m also heading back to Fuvahmulah island in the south of Maldives where we started Nature Friends of Maldives and Pelagic Divers Fuvahmulah to help locals create a plastic reduction and marine debris removal programme alongside an educational shark and dive programme.

Ocean Ramsey

Are there any sharks that you haven’t encountered yet?

I’d love to encounter a basking shark, and the Greenland shark, the longest-living vertebrate on the planet. I’d also love to see a megamouth shark. I’ve dived with and studied more than 30 shark species for over two decades and spent four years writing my first book, What You Should Know About Sharks, in my efforts to help educate people on how to coexist with sharks and help inspire support for conservation.

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Do you have any travel rituals? What can you never travel without?

My travel must-have is my amazing husband; no one would know about the work I do without his incredible talent for photography, videography, and storytelling.

Shark lover, marine conservationist and professional free diver Ocean Ramsey is taking on the plight of the sea’s largest beast one fin at a time.

After him, my two must-have travel pieces both feature one of my favourite tiger sharks, Moana, who I grew up with in Hawaii and whose photo features on my tiger shark pareo and shark puffy jacket. The pareo can be transformed from a scarf to a dress, shawl, skirt, wrapped up into a bag, head covering, towel, blanket, mosquito barrier, hair band, pillowcase cover and pillow. My shark puffy has been a lifesaver on cold flights and in unprecedented weather. It makes for a great pillow, back support, cushion, or shade for long journeys.

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How will your organisation evolve over the next few years?

We’re starting a new project to help people better understand the importance of predators and their plight, so this is extending our work beyond the focus of sharks. Mariah Meyer, one of our team shark safety and biologists, has taken over our One Ocean Education outreach programme and reached more than 1,000 new students.

We’re doing new partnerships for products and companies supporting marine conservation initiatives; many are focused on marine debris, and some are on supporting conservation-minded scientists in developing countries. We have a few educational series for social lined up and will continue with the online campaigns to involve and support more ambassadors and conservationists around the world.

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