GLOBAL OCEAN AMBASSADOR
Always ready for adventure, Ashlan is working to help educate children about our oceans and inspire a future generation of underwater explorers
"Every time I dive, I am floored by the entirely different world that is around me. The colors, the sounds, the animals and the fact that you are completely transfixed by your surroundings. No cell phones, no emails, no social media, just you and the sea."
When and why did you start diving?
Philippe got me certified not long after we met, I had just turned 30 and it was my dream to dive with Great White Sharks and so he took me to Bonaire to get certified and prepare for that adventure which came a year later.
Most memorable dive experience?
Diving Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. It was an area that we destroyed with the Castle Bravo bomb and now, 60 years later it is flourishing and thriving, Every dive we did there, we were surrounded by dozens of grey reef sharks, beautiful giant clams and incredible coral. It was spectacular.
What is your spirit fish (or mammal/reptile) and why?
Most people probably say a shark, whale or dolphin, which are all amazing, but I think my spirit fish is a grouper. They are the friendliest fish and I have made many grouper friends over the years. Grouper have incredible memories and they loved to be scratched under the chin. I had one huge Nassau grouper in Belize actually take me on a tour of his reef and show me his home. It was a dive I will never forget. Groupers are truly are the golden retrievers of the sea and are in a lot of trouble, with many species threatened or endangered. All of this is why I haven’t eaten grouper in over a decade (and to be honest, I rarely eat any seafood these days).
Dream dive: where and with who (alive or not)?
I wish I could dive Conshelf in the Red Sea with Jacques Cousteau, Philippe Sr. and my Philippe. It would mean not only the world to me, but also to Philippe.
What steps are you taking to improve the health of our oceans? Any advice for others who want to help?
All of our work is focused on conservation. From our non-profit, EarthEcho International, (www.earthecho.org) a leading youth education organization that reaches hundreds of thousands of kids each year to empower them to protect the oceans to our documentaries, books, and public events, we work everyday to improve the health of the oceans.
Our advice to everyone is to embrace the fact that each and every one of us has the power to change the world in the choices we make every day; from who we vote for to what we buy, to how we behave towards nature and each other. That is a powerful message, because it means that there is hope if we all embrace our potential to make a positive difference.
Any hidden talents?
I can sing opera. I was accepted into the School of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill my freshman year, but I switched over to the Journalism School my sophomore year. I still sing all the time to Philippe and our dog, and I will sing for friends after a glass or two of wine.