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Leah Henseler (@leah_henseler) by Lily Joseph (@lilijoseph4)

Advice from the ocean: A must read for ocean lovers who want to conserve the ocean.

In the last couple of months I have read a lot of books for my bachelor thesis and now for the research of my master thesis. Whilst searching for new literature, I stumbled across a little blue book called Advice from the Ocean. It sounded quite interesting so I decided to buy it. Little did I know how much I would come to love this book. I focus my master studies on documentary-film and photography, although my interests also lie very much in nature conservation, especially ocean conservation. In the last couple of years I always tried to combine both passions into my work. It was such an inspiration to read about the different paths that can lead you into marine conservation and to realize that arts can also be a path.

Advice from the Ocean – Unexpected Paths into Marine Conservation” is a book put together by Leah and Christine Henseler. Leah and Christine are mother and daughter from upstate New York.  

Their goal with the book is to show other people that there are many different career paths into marine conservation. Leah herself knew from a young age that she wanted to combine arts like woodwork, sculpting and painting with marine conservation. A path in which arts and science are already combined seemed to be hard to find and she often got told that she should study science and do arts as a hobby. The young woman, at only 17 years of age, did not let herself get discouraged by others’ opinions – she did her own research and found 22 professionals in the marine conservation field from over 14 countries. All their stories are combined in Advice from the Ocean.  

As she herself looked beyond the expected, she found that her two passions, art and science, were not unrelated. One makes the other stronger. Ever since she figured that out, her life has been driven by marine conservation and art.

Contributors share their unexpected career paths into fields as diverse as geospatial technology, environmental law, conservation psychology, creative consulting, film, sculpting and more. How did they get there? What challenges did they face? What did they learn? The book unveils it all.

Leah told me that the ocean gives her a sense of peace. The more often she dived into the sea, the more she transformed from an observer to an active detective. Where she used to see just a coral before, she now sees principles of design. So she brought her connection on land with her and started recreating with art what she saw underwater. Her journey began immersed in a pool, breathing through a regulator, though it also began on a craft table. Two separate paths which not often cross, though they did for her.    

I asked Leah what advice she would like to give people reading this article, and she answered to not compromise your passion for a traditional career. As she herself looked beyond the expected, she found that her two passions, art and science, were not unrelated. One makes the other stronger. Ever since she figured that out, her life has been driven by marine conservation and art.  

At the young age of 12, she got certified as a junior open water diver. At only 14 years of age, she had already gone on a catamaran for three weeks, diving 2-3 times a day with seven other students. The following summer in Bali, she was exposed to artificial reef work. There her focus shifted from recreational to scientific diving.   

In 2019, she volunteered at an organization called Conservation Diver in Thailand, where she worked with and learned from marine scientists. In 2020, the book Advice from the Ocean was born. 

Following your passion, knowing what you want to pursue in life and making a change for the better is something I always admired in people. I was stunned by Leah’s story. Even though she is still in High School, she is following her heart, pursuing her dreams and taking action. I am sure she has a bright future ahead of her and that she will inspire the generations to come with her career path. 

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