Behind the Shot - Marine Debris, Antarctica and Inspiring Friendships

By Lia Barrett

Photo by Delphine Aurès of Jacque Comery wearing the "Plastic Wave" tee that she inspired. Available in men's and women's sizes.

Photo by Delphine Aurès of Jacque Comery wearing the "Plastic Wave" tee that she inspired. Available in men's and women's sizes.

This might be a bit gushy, but it is my hope that everyone has a friend like my good friend and Prawno Ambassador, Jacque Comery.  

Hear me out.  Jacque is pretty much a renaissance woman.  Now, I don't just throw that term around lightly, for I truly feel that to be a renaissance anything, you really have to be extra extraordinary. The title is often deemed quite pretentious if tossed around too lightly.  But, alas, pretentious she is not and extraordinary she is indeed.

Environmental engineer, scuba diving instructor, technical diver, freediver, boat captain, dingy driver, ski/snowboard person, birder, former station leader of Macquarie Island's Antarctic base, conservationist, activist, not to mention all of the other crazy, quirky certifications and skills that she has acquired merely from being a go getter and all around curious person. This woman has a thirst for life that most would aspire to have in ten lifetimes, and an enthusiasm that makes even seasickness look extremely enjoyable.

Jacque's yearly ambitions include things like buying a sailboat in Brisbane, sailing it to Patagonia, working in Antarctica for six months, joining expeditions on manmade rafts made out of plastic bottles and crossing shark-infested waters (not the flimsy sharks), and swimming with orcas in freezing cold water.  Meanwhile, I'm sitting at home unable to stop stewing over my political newsfeed, let alone even think about crossing an ocean on a vessel made of plastic.

But when you are feeling low about your contribution to the world as a positive force, and feel like you're more of a pest than a mutual benefactor, she's the type of friend with whom you just need to go on a stroll with. For example, during a typical afternoon venture down at the beach with Jacque, she will peruse the shoreline in search of new sea creatures that she can identify, will pick up varying bits of marine debris to add to her collection (and her art pieces she is currently constructing), and she will gladly talk about sea birds, ocean patterns and her potential adventures for hours as you stroll.  Or, she'll simply listen to your current life struggles and offer uplifting advice without imposing her world view upon your experiences.  In short, a few hours with Jacque is a whirlwind of inspiration, beautiful chaos and a bit of gentle pressure to be a better steward of the world's environment and of your own life.

And so when she sent me this image of her on a beach somewhere in the Sub-Antarctic (she is in New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic region at the moment), it simply made me smile.  Wrapped up in one image is an awesome human being who is wearing a shirt that I designed (but that she inspired), which consists of marine debris she collected in Antarctica, holding freshly collected marine debris (from long line fishing), hanging out with her penguin friends in one of the most remote parts of the world.  

In the times that we live in, when I'm trolling some racist that I've found on a facebook thread, having a friend like Jacque is a great reminder that we live once, that we have one world to explore, and that surrounding yourself with positivity and inspiration will only make you want to be a better human being.  Oh, and that you should pick up trash when you see it!