woman diving in the ocean

Dear Ocean,

I’ve been drawn to you ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always been fascinated by the videos I’ve seen of you on TV. I would always get excited when the nature channels would do ocean specials on diving and coral reefs. I’ll never forget the first time I went diving in the ocean. I jumped off the boat and from the surface, I couldn’t see the bottom. As I descended deeper I got my first glimpse of the coral reef on the bottom. Even from so far away, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

As I dropped down deeper the corals and fish got larger, what looked like tiny statues from far away were now pillars that towered over me. Different colors of yellow, red, green, and purple. The fish that lived on the reef zigzagged in and out through the ridges and crevices in the reef. That first dive was a monumental moment in my life. The time I spent diving that reef solidified how I would spend the rest of my life and I couldn’t be more grateful to have found my calling. 

Since that first dive,  I’ve been on over 300 dives around the world. Every single one of them has been absolutely amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to dive all over the Caribbean, Indonesia, and across the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific. I’ve been on reefs people could only dream of. What I love most about coral reefs is the unknown.

Yes, you’re guaranteed to see coral and fish (obviously) but there is so much more than that. I’ve been surprised countless times by all the life I’ve seen on reefs. Manta rays, Hammerheads, eels, Galapagos sharks, octopus, cuddle fish, squid, frogfish, nudibranchs, dolphins, and even once I got to see a pregnant humpback whale napping. Coral reefs aren’t only gorgeous, they are also important in so many ways.

Coral reefs are special as they are one of the most biodiverse environments on our planet but are lacking in nutrients. Most areas with lots of life are rich in nutrients, so coral reefs go against the status quo. To make up for the lack of nutrients corals do something called nutrient cycling. Corals are also living animals even though they look like rocks. 

Coral reefs are also economically important. They’re home to many fisheries around the world. They are also vital to many tourism and recreation industries. Thousands of people are employed because of coral reefs. If we were to lose them it could crush the economy of many islands around the world.

Corals are also important in medicine. There is a ton of research being done on corals right now, it’s thought they may hold the cure to things like cancer or Alzheimer’s due to their regenerative properties. So it’s extremely important we protect them. Unfortunately, coral reefs are in danger. Hundreds of corals are dying every day from things like bleaching, ocean acidification, and shifting atmospheric conditions. It is up to us to try to protect them. 

It’s been 7 years since I went on that first dive on a coral reef. My love for coral reefs and the ocean has only grown stronger since then. Today I can proudly call myself a marine biologist. More importantly though, I can call myself an ocean protector and I challenge you to try to do the same so we can save our coral reefs for future generations to love and enjoy. 



Editors’ Note: This love letter is part of Planet Home’s Valentine’s Day series 💌 We asked our team to write an ode to a part of the world they feel most connected to. We hope this inspires you to appreciate all things big and small that make our planet feel like home.