World Oceans Day 2021: Wellington Kasha Sears

June 3rd, 2021; This interview was conducted via email and edited for clarity.

Since 2018, WildAid Marine has been working alongside The Nature Conservancy, The Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, and other Bahamian government agencies to strengthen the capacity of local marine enforcement agencies. To understand the importance of this work, we invite you to join us on a virtual trip to The Bahamas. We’ll meet community members, fishers, and ocean advocates who depend on the ocean for their livelihoods and whose stories highlight the need for strong enforcement and smart marine resource management. In honor of World Oceans Day, please join us in raising critical funds to support the implementation of the Marine Action Partnership for Sustainable Fisheries in The Bahamas.

My name is Wellington Kasha Sears and I am a tour guide in Bimini, The Bahamas. 

What do you do for a living?
I grew up loving the ocean and always wanting to work in the industry. I always had a passion for the sea and, upon arriving in Bimini, The Bahamas, I was informed about the numerous dive sites and marine life that surround the island. I started the process to get certified as an open water diver and, after I got my certification, I was offered a job by the company that certified me. All it took was a few months for me to be properly orientated with the dive sites, and another year studying marine life, before I branched off in order to pursue my own business. My plan was to grow my own excursion/ watersports company focused on training and employing Bahamians in this vibrant industry. As an island nation, we can benefit so much more from the sea than we do now. I believe training our youth in the industries that depend on the sea will do this.  

What do you love most about your job?
Work never feels like work. I just really enjoy being in the water.  Every time I’m on a tour, it’s relaxing and fun to be there. I meet great people and make really nice money.  

What is one of the most challenging parts of your job?
Dealing with foreign competition, large resorts, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic makes my work very challenging at times. The pandemic, in particular, made work non-existent and I had to struggle for a very long time when everything was closed.

In normal times, the chumming done to attract sharks is also very dangerous and I’m completely against it. I do offer marine life encounters but I don’t use any bait as I enjoy seeing the animals in their natural habitat.

In what ways do your job and livelihood depend on a healthy ocean?
Without a vibrant and healthy ocean, it wouldn’t be possible for me to conduct tours since the beautiful marine life and coral reefs are the main attractions for my guests.  

In my free time, I also fish and spearfish. My family and I primarily consume fish in our diet, meaning we depend heavily on the ocean for food.  

What does the ocean mean to you?
Right now, the ocean is my life and it means everything to me. I depend on it to live and survive.

What worries you most about the future of our oceans?
Poaching worries me. Poachers are killing our species and destroying reefs. If nothing is done about it, our marine life will keep deteriorating and we will risk losing our culture and way of life.  

What gives you hope for the future of our oceans?
I feel hopeful when I see people who are passionate about protecting our oceans doing just that. Those that are ignorant to its wonders and challenges are also becoming more informed. Together, this really gives me hope for our future prospects.