It’s early afternoon, and I’m snorkelling above a coral reef in what is widely known as one of the most pristine places in the world – Lord Howe Island, 300 miles off the east coast of Australia. Surrounded by hundreds of brightly coloured fish (and equally colourful coral) I’m scanning the water looking every which way with my child-sized flippers & mask on, trying to remember how to breathe through one of these damn things, and attempting to maintain my chill.
Not quite as easily said as done, as I’ve also just spotted the sharks that I was really, really hoping I wasn’t going to see.
I should quickly explain that they were in fact baby sharks. But still, my heart is racing and I’m performing a mental check of my body hoping that I didn’t cut my leg shaving this morning and that a feeding frenzy is not about to get underway…
Suffice to say, I survived. We all did, in our group of 8. In fact, once we realised just how harmless they were, some of us might have deliberately gotten a little bit closer to the cute wee blighters. In the end, you had to drag us out of the water – a theme which was to repeat itself over and over again, over the next 9 days.
We began our journey by rolling off a tiny commuter plane and straight into the shadows of Mt Gower and Mt Lidgbird, to an area named Little Island, where local man and avid environmental activist Ian Hutton starts calling down Providence Petrel birds from the sky. Yes, calling them down.
They circle and swoop above our heads in their hundreds like something straight out of Jurassic Park, but a loud noise from the ground will bring them flying towards you at a clip – it might be a sign that their nests are being invaded, and they will drop from the skies immediately to protect their young. Docile and endemic to the island, it’s just one of the species we are learning is perilously close to being endangered due to rising water levels and unseasonable temperatures.
I’m here on Lord Howe island with a motley crew – we are students (two, Hugo and Amelia) and mentor (that’d be me). We are a film crew working with Adobe to document the work these students create as they explore the island and create meaningful artwork to reflect all that they are seeing. We are members of the dedicated Passion Passport team, who have created and co-ordinated 3 separate journeys for 6 different students from Patagonia to the Maasai Mara to here, in Australia. And we are all here together to try and raise awareness of climate change, and the catastrophic effect it is having on our earth.