The Ocean Lover, an educational company that offers knowledge about the underwater world through digital content and physical experiences, is a project by aquapreneur Terence Bell.
He explains, “The Ocean Lover is an educational company that is dedicated to reconnecting people with the underwater world through sharing personal stories. The website [to be launched in July] will feature ocean-related projects, resources and an Interview Series called Ocean Lovers. This series, inspired by Fishpeople, are short interviews with people around the world who have experienced the transformative effects of the ocean.”
The Ocean Lover: What’s your ocean?
Terence Bell: My watery playground is the blue ocean of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. It’s a busy place in a bustling city, yet it still has charm and is surprisingly abundant with beautiful marine life including bottlenose dolphins, grey and humpback whales, and sea lions to name a few.
I also spend a lot of time on the Big Island of Hawai’i, playing in the pristine, crystal clear waters with creatures of the underwater world like the playful spinner dolphins. I have to mention that the ocean I feel most connected to is my previous home and one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions, the beautiful and vibrant Bondi Beach – hard to beat on a hot summer’s day.
The Ocean Lover: How did you fall in love with the ocean?
Terence Bell: I grew up in Australia and we’re lucky to be surrounded by beautiful, clean and accessible beaches, so I had countless memorable beach visits with family and friends. Since then, I have lived in many places that have overlooked the ocean that I’m now spoilt, always seeking out a room with a view.
My first memorable water encounter was as a toddler when I stumbled into our backyard pool and slowly drifted to the bottom. An angel in the form of my mother immediately came to my rescue and ironically since then, being underwater has been my safe space. As a little boy, I was often found splashing around in any available water source – think a fountain or water feature. I think my profound love for water shifted to the ocean as soon as my feet touched the sand.
The Ocean Lover: What is your regular ocean routine?
Terence Bell: I’m in the water everyday – unless I’m on a plane which is often, usually around sunrise when it’s calm and quiet, and there is the powerful energy of a new day beginning. I swim 2-3 miles in the Santa Monica Bay or go surfing or paddling around Malibu. This non-negotiable morning routine provides the nourishment and ‘white space’ I need to start my day on a positive and vibrant note.
The Ocean Lover: What is your most memorable ocean experience?
Terence Bell: I read about a supposed dolphin whisperer who has spent a considerable period of her life (30+ years) in the water with dolphins, learning about their behavior, positive healing effect on humans and ability to alter our frequency to restore balance.
I was so intrigued that I flew to Hawai’i and experienced this for myself, spending a week with like-minded souls, playing with large pods of spinner dolphins and learning about their physiology and collective consciousness. This was probably one of the most blissful, joyful encounters I have ever experienced and has had a profound impact on my world-view and priorities.
The Ocean Lover: Do you use the ocean as therapy, self-healing?
Terence Bell: The ocean is my wellness doctor and has a powerful effect on my health and wellbeing. For me it’s part-meditative, part-fitness but mostly just pure fun. It provides a sense of liberation and brings an element of wonder to my daily life.
When I go for long ocean swims I often count my strokes, 1 through to 10, or repeat a simple mantra “I am swimming”. I find these simple thoughts allow me to get out of my own mind and really connect with the flow of the water.
The Ocean Lover: They say the mother of learning is play, what has the ocean taught you?
Terence Bell: The ocean has categorically taught me to feel more than think. I’ve been predominantly a rational operator (left-side brain) all my life and exploring the creative or feeling part of the brain is something I have been consciously developing over recent times. I know that when I try to do less in the ocean and just feel more, go with the flow, everything is easier and more effortless.
The Ocean Lover: What is your biggest fear about the ocean?
Terence Bell: My deepest fear is that we are destroying the ocean at an exponential rate because humans generally under-appreciate things we can not see or feel, the ‘out of sight out of mind’ attitude. It pains me to think that our fragile and finely balanced marine ecosystem is being destroyed faster than ever because of our selfishness and disconnection with nature. We’re the only species on the planet that takes more than we need and it’s having a detrimental impact on the environment. Awareness and personal experience are the key as we only protect what we love (thanks Jacques Yves Cousteau).
The Ocean Lover: Is there a person or project that has developed your passion or inspiration for the ocean?
The Duke is my ocean hero. I read about his adventures when I was young and was fascinated with his superhuman water capabilities – swimming, surfing, paddling, sailing, fishing, ocean awareness. The Hawaiians have a strong spiritual connection with Mother Earth, known as mana, and it defines their existence and culture. I feel the same way as Duke Kahanamoku when he said, out of water, I am nothing.
Endurance swimmer Martin Strel is also a standout, partly because of what he has achieved, swimming the entire length of various rivers, but more because he is genuinely a decent and humble human – his personal motto is “swimming for peace, friendship and clean waters.”
A true inspiration was the courageous Hawaiian crew of the boat Hokule’a, the Hawaiian canoe adventure that traversed the globe over 3 years using nothing but traditional wayfinding – an ancient Polynesian skill that requires memorizing hundreds of stars and where they rise and set on the ocean horizon.
The Ocean Lover: What’s your favorite film or book about the ocean?
Terence Bell: The 1980’s free diving classic The Big Blue set in the Mediterranean was very defining for me to explore the beauty of the underwater world and learn to dive deep on a single breath. This appeals to my nature as a purist in everything I do in life, the less is more approach.
Wallace J Nichols‘ book The Blue Mind is a masterpiece in linking science (neuroplasticity) with what we anecdotally know, that water has the ability to positively influence our life through reshaping our neural pathways and making us feel happy. His research suggests that focussed time in nature activates other parts of our brain, giving our fatigued frontal lobe a necessary break.
The late Masaru Emoto’s book on The Hidden Messages in Water explores the concept that water has memory, and how both the physical and energetic environment affects the molecular structure of water.
The Ocean Lover: What’s your wildest ocean related dream that you would love to see in your lifetime?
Terence Bell: Allowing every person on the planet to feel the bliss of the ‘blue mind’ at least once in their life. Something more tangible is the complete removal of all non-degradable plastics from our oceans – imagine the immediate impact we could have if only a few large consumer companies banned plastic bags and single-use plastics starting from tomorrow.
On a personal and aspirational front, I would love to have gills like a fish. I will probably have to wait a few more years, but I am happy to be a test dummy for this project.
The Ocean Lover: What is your superhuman ability in the ocean?
Terence Bell: Having respect for her strength and being at ease.
The Ocean Lover: How do people learn more about you?
The Ocean Lover: What is your fave ocean or water quote?
Terence Bell: I’ll throw in a few:
‘Out of water, I am nothing’ – Duke Kahanamoku
‘I need the sea because it teaches me’ – Pablo Neruda
‘The ocean is my essence, the mirror of my soul’ – Terence Bell
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