Our History and Our Mission
The History and Mission of Blue Ocean Network
Thanks for joining us here at Blue Ocean Network! My name is Laurie Wilson and I’m the co-Founder of this ocean-loving, ocean news, event-happening and ocean-changing community. I’m a writer, a speaker, and an adventure-maker and my passion is diving the ocean. I love to share what I learn from those in the ocean trenches – insights that can help us all be more effective, wise, profitable, sustainable and connected, all while fun! My background is hospitality & tourism management, and I’ve been fortunate to play a part in dive travel since 1989. I’ve worked in a variety of jobs in the dive industry and this has given me an amazing overview and insight into the environmental and social impacts business owners and consumers have on the ocean.
Moving to a Dive Mecca
After taking time off to travel and dive in the Pacific and southeast Asia, I landed a 4-year stint as Sales & Marketing Manager at Sunset House Dive Hotel (one of the first-ever dive resorts) on Grand Cayman. It was the Cayman Islands Dive Operators Association that introduced me to eco-tourism practices and dive travel sales. As I toured dive retailers and travel agents around our resort property and hosted them on boat trips to Stingray City, as part of Cayman Islands Department of Tourism familiarization trips (FAM’s). I provided travel pros with an on-site crash course on how to sell dive travel at one of the world’s top dive destinations. Word got out, and our tours became so popular that the CIDOT made sure Sunset House was always slated for FAM trip schedules, whether or not the agents sold diving. Expanding on this education theme, I got the go-ahead to lead seminars for Sunset House at the DEMA Show and as a a result, DEMA Show management invited me to be a regular DEMA Show business speaker.
Resources for Dive Businesses
It became obvious there was a huge need for dive travel business education, so when I left Sunset House, I founded the Dive Travel Resource Group (DTRG) with a mission to provide business education and resources that would help dive and travel professionals to sell dive travel. I’ve worked with SCUBA magazines (legendary Skin Diver Magazine Publisher Paul Tzimoulis and Photo Pro Geri Murphy taught me so much about selling the travel experience); national and international travel associations like ASTA and PATA; large travel conglomerates (such as American Express and Liberty/Gogo). Plus exceptional opportunities to work with Anne & Wayne Hasson of Aggressor Fleet; Jean-Michel Cousteau and Stan Waterman and all kinds of resorts, dive operators, dive travel wholesale companies and many tourism boards.
NGO, G.O. and GEO
Through Cayman connections, citizen science trailblazer REEF got me involved in their Public Relations efforts and their fish ID programs. After participating on the advisory team for International Year of the Reef, NOAA invited me to market the U.S. National Marine Sanctuary program. I was also involved in the launch of the Marine Sanctuary Foundation, working with Sylvia Earle’s National Geographic Sustainable Seas Expedition, and helped to promote the fledgling Flower Garden Banks NMS with Platinum record band Little Texas.
Over the years, I’ve had the honor of learning from and collaborating with some of the ‘who’s who’ in the dive industry. One of the ways to share this wealth of industry wisdom was to develop the “Dive Travel Conference” which showcased the generous knowledge of our top marine tourism pros. This quickly expanded to provide year-round DTRG seminars at U.S. regional dive and travel shows, international dive shows and trade conferences like DEMA, DEMA Asia, ADEX and PATA, along with regular webinar presentations for The Travel Institute. At last count, more than 15,000 Sellers of Travel have participated in these learning programs and events. While this was all happening I was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame and I earned an MBA and Certified Management Consulting designation.
She Who Cannot Be Ignored
The next obvious step was to take these skill sets and knowledge on-line to provide 24/7 news and resources focused on the needs of dive travelers and the businesses that serve them. But it was becoming glaringly obvious that selling ocean protection was much more important than selling diving. I had seen first-hand how glorious our world’s reefs could be and the degradation from this abundant baseline ultimately forced me to reevaluate everything that I was doing. Mother Ocean was giving me a piece of her mind, compelling me to make a change.
Diving Into Sustainability
We are facing serious issues that impact our beloved ocean, our entire planet and our very survival. Climate change, ocean acidification, plastic pollution, the demise of our coral reef ecology, habitat loss, over fishing and business-as-usual are conspiring to get our attention. I’ve been tapping into the amazing people I have met since I started diving as a youngin’, to find answers to these issues. I’ve been connecting with the scientists, ocean leaders, authors, artists and business people who offer fascinating insights and together are providing hope and ways forward.
Ocean Community Portal
This urgent work is what is driving our Blue Ocean Network team to create a new and expanded website (our ocean community portal); to continue with the annual Blue Ocean Summit and; expand our events to bring to your attention the ocean movers and shakers, the ocean change makers and their awesome stories. Our job is to call in the massive ocean tribe, spotlight people and initiatives that are making a difference, and to provide hope to those who are doing their part to spark ocean change. This work can no longer be relegated to the scientists and non-profits of this world. It’s time for consumers, businesses and concerned media to get involved, coordinate our efforts and cross-pollinate the wisdom, innovation and actions required. Ocean Lovers want to connect, learn and make a difference, and Blue Ocean Network provides a platform to do this.
You Are Not Alone
There are millions of us addressing ocean issues, but the job is massive, the path is not linear, the resistance is strong, and we all yearn for support. While there may be times when you want to roll up in a ball and cry in a corner, there is now a community of people around you who totally ‘get it’ and will inspire you to get on with it.
It’s All Hands On Deck
We are calling on each other to participate fully. To share, collaborate, support and compel each other to step up, and help in whatever way you can, with what you have, where you are, to stem the tide. In fact our new monthly newsletter is High Tides; we want to harness the tide – this movement of devoted ocean lovers – by bringing to you, real-life examples of initiatives and people moving towards positive change.
Thanks again for diving into your Blue Ocean community!
And for bringing your own brand of hope, wisdom and inspired action. We are here to help you make your voice heard, share your concerns, inspire others and be the change you want to see in the sea. Learner, Sharer, Instigator, Connector Blue Ocean Network