The Marine Conservation Society has released a series of three short films, exploring human connection to the ocean.
Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery the films follow three individuals as they explore the different experiences which led them to a deep connection to our blue planet: surfing, diving and beach cleaning.
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "The sea means something different to each of us. These films capture the awe-inspiring nature of the sea, the close emotional connection that individuals have with it and the positive impact it has on health and wellbeing.
"But the films also highlight the vulnerability of our oceans and how susceptible they can be to the negative impact of humans.
"Our players have raised £3.25 million to support Marine Conservation Society. I’m delighted this money is helping protect our oceans and marine environments, helping them to thrive so they can continue to be enjoyed by everyone."
Charlotte, who has autism, mild cerebral palsy and bipolar disorder, is now a competitive parasurfer and volunteer for the Wave Project. In the film, Charlotte speaks of her fear of the ocean, until her Mum signed her up for surf therapy lessons. As someone who was very scared of the sea, and spent much of the first lesson on the beach, Charlotte’s journey to surfing competitively is a wonderful story of the restorative power of the ocean.
"As soon as I walked into the water, I just felt very calm, in control and happy – the first time I’d been in the sea, happy and not worrying about anything else."
Charlotte has since competed in, and won, several surfing competitions and now supports the Wave Project helping other young people like her.
Georgie is a Marine Conservation Society volunteer, and part of the charity’s Seasearch programme for divers. In her film, Georgie takes viewers underwater to see some of the wonders of UK seas and the unfortunate reality of human impact.
The film highlights the incredible diversity of life, colour and beauty in the UK’s waters, "if you’re willing to get a little bit chilly", as Georgie says. As a photographer, Georgie’s goal is to capture the UK’s seas in a way that inspires and motivates others, and builds a connection between people and the sea.
"I don’t think I've ever done a dive and not seen some form of human impact."
Whether on a small or large scale, Georgie’s film highlights the issue of marine pollution, from fishing nets to microplastics, and how it’s become part of experiencing the ocean.
But the film is full of hope and inspiration, as Georgie says, "there is a lot we can do as individuals".
Divers and snorkellers can sign up for Seasearch; volunteers survey the state of UK seas, providing data and insight into marine flora and fauna.
Vaishali is a Marine Conservation Society volunteer, and in her film, speaks of her connection to the ocean which she found through beach cleaning.
"Going to a calm and quiet beach, it helps you focus better – blows away the cobwebs - It cleanses your mind and you go home feeling relaxed, happy and rejuvenated."
As a dedicated beach cleaner, Vaishali sees firsthand the impact of pollution on marine life; she speaks in the film of spotting a seabird tangled in fishing wire on the first beach clean she attended.
"We don’t think our actions can have major consequences", she says. But everyone can make a difference: "It’s really important for us to change things now, and we can."
Vishali, Georgie and Charlotte's the sea and me films can be found on the Marine Conservation Society’s website.
Players of People's Postcode Lottery have raised over £3.7 million for the Marine Conservation Society.
Image: Billy Barraclough