BY MIAO WANG
3 years ago, I took a 36 hour boat ride off of the coast of Costa Rica, bound for the dive trip of my life. It was the legendary Cocos Island, a lone prehistoric island in the middle of the Pacific. Similarly reputed as the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, it’s home to the world’s largest schools of hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, tigers, blacktips and reef sharks. (“Schools” in the context of marine science means numbers from the hundreds to tens of thousands.)
By day 5, I could count the sharks we saw with two hands. No one made a word of complaint, our tacit attempt to defend our dream liveaboard with the benefit of doubt. At dinner Randy decided to break the ice. He said that when he visited Cocos back in 2012, EVERY dive was out of this world –– and it was the celestial marvels of this island that helped him find grace from years of depression after losing his home to Hurricane Katrina.
Marvels no longer.
None of us wanted to go to bed that night. We talked on and on and in the end, concluded that it was climate change –– the water was probably too warm for the sharks now. I went up to the top deck and finally let the tears out. For the first time in my life it struck me that the beauty of this planet has its burdens, and everything we do comes with consequences. It was our way of living and unsustainable growth that’s wiping out the last wonders of this world. Right here, in our faces. Later I also learned that Cocos was struggling for years with corruption and illegal shark fishing in the area, despite being a declared UNESCO site.
The next day was a full moon. We were about to end our morning dive. Inhale. Exhale. All there was to hear was my own heartbeat silenced by each breath. All there was to see was the divemaster 10 feet ahead of me. Then suddenly he started to ring his tank –– the universal dive language of hopeful encounters –– and based on how hectic and loud this sounded it must be something really good we were about to see. There and then, the picture Randy described last night and which I had dreamed of all of my life, started to emerge in the distance: It was 5 hammerheads, then it was 10, 20, 50 hammerheads! Before I could count, there were hundreds of them, cruising the blue infinity in utter grace and perfection, as my entire existence was shrinking smaller and smaller until becoming completely lost in the salty sea.
I continued in the direction of disbelief: such is the wonder of this Earth that completely encompasses and humbles our reality. That is our Mother Ocean that gave birth and provided us, the magical Cocos Island we travelled all this way to see and which existed after all. I cried like a newborn at the first taste of fresh air. Then I laughed then cried again. Then laughed again. I chased until I couldn’t. I had never felt so much joy.
And that, was how I found my purpose—those 12 hours of staggering pain and bliss that moved me, torn me apart then made me whole, showed me what all was so important that I couldn’t bear not to do something about had I to lose it forever.
We all have taken a thousand pictures of the same clownfish or the same horizon line that connects humanity with what lies beneath, because everything the ocean has in store is so beautiful that it’s impossible to register that there will be more, more, more. In fact there might not be. Fast forward to today, Cocos led me to Palau, Fiji, Maldives, Australia, Philippines, Ecuador, Tanzania, Egypt, and my love for sharks has evolved from a passion to a mission: I want to see them, but more than that I want to make sure they’re there. Last year I founded In Sharks We Trust, a sustainable swimwear label dedicated to shark conservation. Each day since then took on a bit more weight and a bit more meaning, in defense of sharks, the only life I have got to live, and the only place we call home.
我們所有人都曾給小醜魚或是地平線拍過上千張相似的照片，地平線將深藏其下的東西與人性相連；因為海洋擁有的一切太過美麗，我們無法將之全部記錄，而未來會有更多，更多，更多。但事實上，可能不會有。快進到今天，可可斯島將我帶到帕勞、斐濟、馬爾代夫、澳大利亞、菲律賓、厄瓜多爾、坦桑尼亞、埃及，而我對鯊魚的愛已然從激情上升到使命：我想要見到它們，但更重要的是，我想要確保它們能存活。去年我成立了 In Sharks We Trust，一個致力於保護鯊魚的可持續泳裝品牌。此後的每一天，我都為了保護鯊魚，保護我唯一的生命，保護我們僅有的家園而承受更多的重擔和更多的意義。
Miao Wang was born in Beijing and grew up between NYC and LA, with a Bachelors in Design from Yale, Masters in Business from UCLA Anderson, PhD in Life from Diving. She’s currently based in Shanghai as the creative strategist for Nike and founder of sustainable swimwear brand In Sharks We Trust, championing shark and ocean conservation in China.
Miao Wang 出生于北京，在纽约和洛杉矶长大，拥有耶鲁大学的设计学士学位和 UCLA 安德森管理学院的商科硕士学位，并且通过潜水获得了关于生命的”博士学位”。Miao Wang 目前居住在上海，是NIKE的创意策略师，同时也是可持续泳装品牌 In Sharks We Trust 的创始人，她在中国倡导鲨鱼与海洋保护事业。