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OUR STORY 

Many people ask me this question: ‘’ How did you start? What made you start working in nature conservation ?’’ I never know what to say. It feels like I never really had to start.  I was drawn to nature since I was a little girl and the need for protection of what I loved the most just felt natural. Understanding the size of the problem we as humans are creating in nature started when I moved to Indonesia at the age of 16 where I was learning how to become a dive professional. Spending full days in the waters surrounding Bali and the smaller islands around I started noticing the diseases on the reefs caused by pollution and the physical trash on the dive sites. I volunteered for conservation organizations to clean the beaches and the water but I felt like we are just touching the tip of the iceberg. By cleaning the trash we are not going to stop this problem. That´s why I decided to start a different approach. Education of the local children by games and presentations. The energy and enthusiasm of the children showed me that this is the right way to change something. 

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In my free time, I used to travel around and explore the land of the islands surrounding Bali. One of my favorite places to go was the Island called Lombok. I loved visiting this place as there never were many tourists,  nearly none. Small villages with very friendly people, great Indonesian food, and beautiful beaches with gorgeous snorkeling opportunities. On one of my first explorations of this island, I found a fish landing base called Tanjung Luar. Every time when I visited this early morning seafood market I would witness more sharks being landed dead here than I would ever imagine seeing in the ocean. This market is a place that opened my eyes and made me realize that there is so much damage people are causing which is absolutely hidden. Nobody talks about it, nobody sees it, nobody cares. This place helped me on the decision to dedicate my life to ocean conservation. 

 

After some years of life in Indonesia, I decided to move to Australia and spend some time in the ocean with big sharks to learn about their behavior as in Indonesia the only big sharks I would witness were the ones on the markets. I loved living in Australia but because of my visa situation, I moved back to Asia to study different types of sharks in the Philippines and Thailand.  Through some of my contacts in marine conservation, I got an opportunity to join a campaign run by Sea Shepherd, the biggest marine conservation organization in the world (gods and saviors of the oceans in my eyes at that time).

 

The work I did with Sea Shepherd was based in Thailand and Malaysia. We were focusing mostly on Coral Reef restoration projects, sustainable diving tourism, and fishery management. I learned so much in this period and met so many incredible people working in the marine conservation field. I will be forever grateful for the time I spent with this organization, the team, and the volunteers I worked with. But there came a time when I realized that this is not the path I want to continue on following. That my idea of helping in the marine conservation field is different. 

At this period of my life, I started losing hope. I felt very ashamed of my own race and I was struggling with depression. I was on my travels through Japan documenting the Tuna auctions in Tokyo, illegal markets with protected wildlife, and the shark fishing village  Kesennuma when I realized that I can´t continue this way. That I must change my point of view on people and on nature. Start feeling the power of nature, not her weakness. 

This is the moment where Blue Religion was born. Where my story becomes OUR STORY and keeps writing its own pages till this day. I decided to start a marine conservation organization driven by positivity and create a platform that would give an opportunity to everyone who wants to help. No more black and white – bad and good. No more fear and anger, only love and appreciation for nature and its power. No difference if it is a marine biology student, activist, or fisherman willing to listen and help our cause. 

 

 I traveled through Mexico, Costa Rica, French Polynesia, Cuba, Bahamas, and back to Indonesia. Through my travels, I kept finding like-minded people who wanted to join and volunteer for the organization. We slowly started developing the three pillars of the conservation program which are focusing on shark conservation – kids’ education and pollution. After Covid made us stop most of our efforts we decided to move to Mexico as the regulations there were allowing us to work on our programs quite freely. Mexico became home to Blue Religion at the beginning of the year 2021. Most of our volunteers are from here and are extremely excited about all our new projects. We managed to sign Blue Religion on some university’s lists to give students the opportunity to work with us as part of their mandatory social service program. We work with local fishermen and keep developing our programs to slowly start replacing the destructive fishing industry with tourism. 

 

My dream is to grow this project and make a bigger impact worldwide. I can achieve this dream only thanks to your help. Joining us on our expeditions, becoming a volunteer, or donating to our cause is the way you can help me and Blue Religion to grow bigger and help on the mission to save our oceans. 

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´´Nature will survive in one form or another, the only question is if we as humas will still be part of it? By protecting our oceans we are protecting the future of our own kind.´´

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Lucia Baranova 

Founder of Blue Religion