California Diver interviews Richard Theiss

California Diver's Marine Science Editor, Mike Bear, interviewed me in early January and you can read a PDF of the interview here.  We touched on a variety of subjects, from my humble beginnings, working with wildlife, my work with Diana Nyad, and the latest trends in toys (ie: digital video cameras).

As someone who is involved in marine science, Mike was also interested in my thoughts on communicating critically important science information to a broad audience - something that, with my background in media communications, I am always happy to talk about.  All in all, I was pleased.  Hope you are too.


2013: Looking ahead and reaching out

With the start of each new year, many of us re-calibrate our plans, our agendas, our goals.  The resolutions stack up like cordwood and many will get consumed in the fire.  But we look forward, hoping to build on the high points of the past year and sweep the lows into the dustbin of history.  Hopefully, we learn from it all because even in failure or disappointment there are life-affirming lessons.   

2012 was quite a mixed bag for me, as many years can be.  There were some glorious and gratifying highs and crushing lows both professionally and personally.  And as challenging as it can be as we get older, there is room for further enlightenment and change.  Whether it be blind optimism, determination, or naivete, I'm still propelled by the simple motivation that my friend Diana Nyad adheres to: Onward.

For this coming year, I hope to return more to what I do best as a visual storyteller.  There is an audience for what I am able to bring forth, affirmed to me by the support of friends and colleagues and by social media.  But there is also a larger audience that is still in the dark when it comes to conservation and ocean issues.  How do we reach these people?  How do we get them to taste and appreciate the passion and commitment that so many of my colleagues feel, and through that gain an understanding as to the importance of the issues at hand?  That is the challenge for 2013.

Social media is a strange bird.  On the one hand, it is a vehicle through which copious information can be conveyed, shared, and debated - whether through blogs or sites like Facebook and Twitter.  However, there are many times when I find it a bit insular, a club of like-minded individuals keeping morale up and the buzz going.  And that's fine.  We need that to stay motivated. But I keep thinking about that larger audience . . .  

Conservation and ocean issues are a tough sell these days.  With worldwide economic challenges - which have a profound impact on environmental issues, whether we like it or not - the tendency towards focusing on short-term issues and results dominates.  Conservation, while made up of a series of smaller struggles and victories, is a much greater long-term issue and commitment.  It requires forward-thinking, often way beyond our lifetimes, if we are to preserve this spaceship Earth and its finite resources.

That struggle, between looking ahead and dealing with the here and now, confronts us all.  We all must get through our day-to-day lives, pay our bills, put food on the table, and do what we must to get by.  But when we can turn our attention to issues greater than ourselves, we better ourselves as citizens of this planet.  Call it noble or call it simply survival - it is the right thing to do for those generations yet to come.

The health of the oceans, of the environment, is important to me as I see it at the top of the pyramid of challenges facing mankind.  All other causes become immaterial if we lose our life support systems.  So, for 2013, I hope you all are able to continue to fuel your passions and sense of commitment.  Bring it to the largest possible audience and let it be the catalyst that brings enlightenment and forms a new way of thinking about the world we are passing through.

Happiest of New Year's to you all!