Recently, Greg had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia Carvajal, a professional fire performer turned ocean conservationist. After a life-changing experience swimming with wild dolphins in Key West, Florida, Cynthia was inspired to start Ocean Lifeline, a nonprofit dedicated to spreading awareness on the adverse effects of human impact on the world’s oceans. Here’s what Cynthia has to say about her eco-conscious epiphany and her mission as founder of Ocean Lifeline.
Making eye contact with a dolphin swimming four feet away from me shifted my awareness that we can coexist harmoniously with our environment. At that moment, I realized that one of my life’s missions was to protect whales, dolphins and marine-life from human destruction and fatality. It became clear to me that I needed to reevaluate my lifestyle as a consumer living in New York. Without hesitation, I sold everything I owned and relocated Hawaii.
Conducting interviews with a Kodak 1080 HD underwater camcorder, I started meeting with anyone who was willing to talk about issues such as commercial fishing, shark-finning, the plastic crisis and dolphins in captivity. After a few months of nature therapy, I was lucky enough to catch the eye of the New York Women in Film and Television, who decided to sponsor my project and upgrade the documentary in progress with a professional underwater videographer, producer, sound guy and cameraman.
With the help of marine biologists, oceanographers, professors, Hawaiian natives and dive masters, I was determined to share my message with a larger audience, reminding those people in metropolitan areas, such as New York, that trash is never really “out of sight” and motivating urbanites to be less detached from nature. A rigorous 10-mile hike to Kamilo beach in Hawaii served as a devastating and all too tangible reminder that the plastic just doesn’t go away. Here, plastic from the great Pacific garbage patch, Japan and all around the world washes up to shore. Decade-old plastic pieces still remain—only able to break down to more numerous, smaller pieces of plastic. After holding a handful of “plastic” grains of sand, I knew it was time to go back to New York to spread awareness on the plastic crisis.
The mission of Ocean Lifeline is to captivate the public interest in marine life through the creation of powerful imagery. For the first time ever, our talented production crew, Max Nova, JR Skola and Tanya Morgan created a progressive guerrilla marketing plan to spread awareness through massive projections on buildings in New York’s China Town, Union Square and Soho. As jaded New Yorkers stop and stare at documentary footage of me swimming with 30 dolphins in Hawaii, they’re instantly captivated by the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.
What inspires me the most about these projections is the juxtaposition of untouched nature vs. a concrete jungle. People living in big cities live a fast-paced lifestyle. Many of us do not even encounter nature at all on some days. Seeing these documentary projections reminds us that we are still very much connected and a part of nature—every individual has the power to be part of the solution by being a more conscious consumer. Whether you live in paradise in Hawaii, a beach town in California or a metropolis such as New York, we are all connected to the oceans.