Ocean Advocacy Advisory Board
My passionate love for the sea is not only ingrained in my DNA, but also stems from the place I was born in Siracusa (Syracuse), Italy. I grew up with the sea in my eyes and my ears. The hours of my life, ever since I was a newborn, were marked by the sound of the sea’s voice. My sister Rossana and I used to compete to see which of us could gather the highest number of sea urchin skeletons, but soon this morphed into competitions for the deepest dive.
My career in competitive sports began in 1978 with a record constant weight dive to 35 meters. The following year I broke my own record by reaching 40 meters with my sister Rossana, who began that year to practice competitive deep-blue free diving, with prestigious results that almost always outdid mine. In 1982 we dived in the sea of Milazzo to a record variable weight depth of 50 meters.
Even after being married and giving birth to three children, the call of the deep was still strong. In 1987, I achieved another record concerning variable weight diving: 70 meters. My last record dive dates back to 1988, when I made a 47-meter constant weight dive.
My abandonment of competitive sports did not mean I abandoned the sea. I am still in contact with the sea in all possible manners, both by swimming on the surface and by diving. The fact that I am in touch with the sea so assiduously gave me a chance to realize how badly endangered our seas are, how very seriously ill they are. Therefore, I try and lend my voice to the cry for help which rises from the sea, and I do so by holding lectures and discussions, during which describe what I see when I dive.
With this aim in mind, in May, 2012 I was the patroness – through an apnea dive – at an exhibition of underwater photographs which were mounted on the Milford Haven oil tanker, which sank off the coast of Arenzano in 1991. I also contribute to the “Mondo Sommerso” magazine.
Besides my passion for the turquoise dimension, I also passionately love reading; my studies were based in the Classics. I also co-manage a small citrus orchard belonging to my family. I love the countryside deeply, almost as much as I love the sea.
I feel incredibly lucky because my life is full of colors. The green and yellow hues of the Sicilian countryside, and the blue and azure hues of the sea. Nowadays these dramatic hues are threatened in the name of deceitful, meaningless development. I fight with all I have so that the countryside and the sea retain their colors and that green and blue are not inexorably defeated by gray and black forever.
World-renowned as “the deepest man on Earth,” Nitsch earned that title when he set the world freediving record at an astonishing depth of 214 meters (702 feet) in the 2007 ‘No Limit’ discipline, a feat he surpassed in 2012 with 253 meters (830.8 feet). Nitsch can hold his breath for more than nine minutes and has set 32 world records in all of the eight recognized disciplines – unrivaled achievements in the history of freediving. He holds an additional world record in the traditional Greek freediving discipline, Skandalopetra.
Rare amongst freedivers, Nitsch is self-taught, and has developed his own freediving techniques and training regimes over the years. He has introduced novel equipment, many of which has become standard equipment in freediving. Together with his international technical team, he designs and produces highly innovative gear with hydrodynamic shapes and lightweight materials. Nitsch is a pioneer in the world of freediving.
Nitsch is also an avid sailor, and brings to Sea Shepherd’s Board of Advisors a deep love of, and commitment to, the oceans. When he is not freediving, he can often be found sailing a catamaran, or designing new ways of navigating the oceans both above and below sea level.
During Nitsch’s frequent travels around the world, he has observed the alarming state of our oceans and has become determined to raise awareness. In his lectures worldwideand discussions with corporations and with the general public (including the freediving community), he educates his audiences about Sea Shepherd’s work and emphasizes the importance of conservation and the plight of dwindling ocean life as a result of overfishing and other man-made environmental stressors.
“Bottom line is that our beautiful oceans, which encompass the vast majority of our planet, are in an extremely concerning state these days, and very little is being done about it,” says Nitsch. “Organizations such as Sea Shepherd are a leading force in creating awareness among the mainstream public about the desperate state of our oceans and its marine life.” He advocates his motto “the Ocean deserves Respect” whenever he talks about Sea Shepherd’s dedicated work to defend and protect the living seas.
Dave “Rasta” Rastovich is a professional surfer born in New Zealand. Dave’s love of the ocean has led him to risk his life and freedom to defend the dolphins in Japan and to support efforts to save the world’s whales. In October of 2007, Dave and fellow surfers paddled out to the infamous Cove in Taiji to oppose the dolphin slaughter. “The reason we surfers were there was to share the blood-stained waters at eye-level with our ocean kin awaiting their execution. Despite the fishermen taking great pains to hide their acts of cruelty, we seized an opportunity to bring this travesty to the world’s attention.”
Aside from conservation and surfing, Rasta is also known for his alternate lifestyle, which includes daily yoga sessions and meditation. Due to his concern for our environment, he maintains his very own organic veggie garden, and is constantly working on ways to make surfboards more eco-friendly.
Kelly is a record 11 time ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Champion, he is both the youngest and oldest individual to win the title and he also has the most World Tour wins of any surfer. Kelly has co-written two books, Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey and Kelly Slater: For the Love, and has helped design a video game that bears his name – Kelly Slater Pro Surfer. Kelly has excelled on the big screen, staring in many surfing videos, TV shows, and he has helped create the IMAX 3D film The Ultimate Wave Tahiti. In 2007, Kelly started The Kelly Slater Foundation which raises awareness and financial support for existing social and environmentally conscious charities. Kelly also does PSA work to help gain awareness for the perilous state of our marine ecosystems. As a man who has made his living riding waves, Kelly has a unique perspective on the state of our oceans.
“There aren’t many people in life who let nothing but their conscience and gut feelings guide them. It’s even more rare to have a group of people do that for the betterment of the world instead of just themselves. I support Sea Shepherds for this exact reason. They put their heart into our planet to help even those people they’re fighting.” – Kelly