Leah, please introduce yourself…
My name is Leah Crake, I’m 23 years old living in Exmouth, Western Australia, working as a Marine Biologist on-board Ningaloo Blue Whale shark charters.
What inspired you to become a Marine Biologist?
I’ve loved the ocean my whole life. Growing up I spent a lot of time in the water diving and surfing. As I got older, I became more curious and passionate to learn more about the ocean and all of the wonderful organisms that live in it, which is what inspired me to become a Marine Biologist.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me consists of working on-board Ningaloo Blue Whale shark charters educating people about the environmental significance of this World Heritage site and taking tourists swimming with all the beautiful creatures on the Ningaloo reef such as Humpback whales, Manta rays, turtles, various species of sharks and of course Whale sharks. On my days off I love to surf and explore the Ningaloo reef on my own boat. I have also recently started a casual beach clean-up group in Exmouth called ‘Coral Coast cleanup’.
What are some of the greatest surreal ‘pinch-me’ moments you’ve experienced so far?
Ahh so many! Definitely seeing a Blue whale, Great white sharks, Orcas, a Leopard shark and turtle hatchlings for the first time. Dancing with 8 Manta rays in the water is up there. But the most unreal encounter I’ve had is playing seaweed fetch with a wild and untrained Bottlenose Dolphin... it’s crazy how intelligent they are!
What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from spending so much time beneath the surface of our oceans?
To be humble and harmonious... even the smallest creatures have a purpose for the bigger picture.
The ocean is your life and livelihood: with everything you’ve seen, experienced and learned what facts and environmental issues still shock you?
At least 8 million tons of plastic is dumped in our ocean every year! And 90% of large ocean hunters/ apex predators have disappeared... with that everything under them in the food chain is declining and changing rapidly.
What is the connection between plastic pollution, our oceans and the climate crisis?
Most plastics are made from materials derived from fossil fuels. Incineration of plastics in developing countries pumps hundreds of million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in warming temperatures... when temperatures rise this puts our ocean under stress.
Warmer temperatures contribute to ocean acidification, causes coral bleaching that disrupts delicate ecosystems, and effects other marine organisms such as sea turtles, which has resulted in more females hatching than males causing a crisis in sea turtle sex ratios.
The ocean is the world’s largest carbon sink for greenhouse gases, however plastics directly smother it. Whilst taking one hundred years to break down, plastic releases greenhouse gases from the heat of the sun and creates a disastrous feedback loop. Our oceans absorb carbon dioxide, rapidly causing them to become more acidic threatening the habitat of every species in our ocean, including coral and plankton that form the base of the food chain. Oceans play a vital role in keeping the earth’s carbon cycle in balance: plastics are putting all of this at risk.
Which documentaries should people watch to learn more about this?
David Attenborough: ‘A life on our planet’ and ‘Drowning in plastic’.
How can people get involved to help save, protect and restore our oceans?
Reduce your use of plastic and get into better habits with reusables, attend local clean ups, educate yourself, take on a more plant-based diet and donate to charities.
This year I’m manifesting…
To travel over East for summer.
For your daily dose of ocean therapy follow Leah on Instagram @leahcrake
To support Sea Shepherd and their on-going campaigns to defend, conserve and protect our oceans, and make a frequent call to action to act now and #SaveOurOcean shop the Arnhem X Sea Shepherd 'Protect The Locals' Charity Tee here 🌏🐳