When it comes to the ocean, Kylie has seen her fair share. Having worked on several yachts and super yachts, and served as a volunteer on a Sea Shepherd vessel around Antarctica, her experience and exposure to varying perspectives on the state of our oceans is quite extensive. But Kylie's connection to the ocean is unique. In 2012, she was bitten by a shark off of Tonga. After her accident, she accrued more knowledge about sharks, which led her to a subsequent position of advocacy on their behalf (read more from her blog below). She is appalled by the Western Australia Shark Cull, and thinks that education and awareness are key ingredients to ending their slaughter.
Currently, she is studying environmental science, and spends her down time volunteering, surfing, and freediving around Lennox Head, Australia.
Ocean Interests: Surfing, freediving, scuba diving, and sailing
Date of Birth: December 15, 1982
Born: Lennox Head, Australia
Lives: Lennox Head, Australia
Personal passions: Ocean, animals, conservation, sustainable living, community change, health, travel, adventure, the world!
Favorite ocean animal: Fish (but hard to put just one down)
From Kylie's Blog
As a surfer, diver, sailor and person who has lived by the sea my whole life I feel an infinite connection and love for the ocean. In 2012, I was bitten by a shark in Vava’u, Tonga. Two weeks later, I was discharged from hospital in Australia. I started asking questions and researched sharks out of interest and as a foundation to help me deal with the sudden spotlight put on me by the media. It was then that the horrifying shark facts stared me in the face, and the facts had nothing to do with attacks on humans; in fact, it was the attack on sharks that was so worrying.
One of the biggest threats our marine ecosystems currently face is the massive decline in shark populations throughout the world. But not even the rapid decline in shark species, and their important role to keep our oceans clean, healthy and balanced can save them right now. I often wonder if we could turn back time how different the stigma of sharks would be if the movie Jaws was not made. Sharks have not had the easiest run in the eyes of humans; not only are they portrayed as malicious ocean beasts, but often killed as by-catch from fishermen. Globally over 100 million sharks are killed every year, 78 million of these for their fins alone to support growing demand for shark fin soup. Even the so-called protection title ‘endangered species’ has not helped our ocean apex predator. In Australia - a so-called developed and educationally advanced country - the green light has just been given to kill endangered sharks off the Western coast using baited drum lines. While on the East coast it is currently legal for 100,000 sharks to be killed every year inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, all to support the shark fin industry.
I knew after the shark encounter I would possibly have phycological hurdles to face. In all honesty, being bitten has not deterred me, but deepened my respect for sharks. The ocean is not our personal playground but a complex bio-diversity and self regulated eco-system - it is wild and governs itself. How dare we (humans) take away a sharks right to life, and it’s role within the habitat it breeds, gestates, feeds and lives! I still surf as much as I can, and dive, and swim in the ocean because it is such an amazing place for me. I have respect for the territory that is what a shark calls home. I have also taken the time to understand sharks which has opened a door of genuine empathy. I can see that beneath the negative image is another animal, a big fish that has grace, elegance and is in great need of our help.
Footage of free-divers swimming harmoniously with sharks is slowly circling the globe, researchers are working intimately with sharks and people are experiencing beautiful encounters under the water. A new and more honest understanding is emerging, while our politicians are feeding fear and making decisions they are not entitled to make.
Sharks like all species have the right to live. Any person who spends time in the ocean is already aware that s/he is in same water that sharks patrol. During my research while healing I also watched documentaries and read various stories from other shark encounters around the world. Not one person felt ill feelings towards sharks; in fact, they agreed to the importance of conservation and protection. My heart goes out to all those who have passed away who love the ocean. I wonder what they would feel about the shark cull in Western Australia?
I feel shame and embarrassment for the direction of Australia. We urgently must put a stop to the brutal killing of sharks around our coast, and demand to use the sophisticated and intelligent information that is already available, yet ignored, about a very beautiful and misunderstood animal.