I’m in love with the ocean. It’s vast, mysterious and wild. It harbours our planet’s strangest life-forms and yet was the birthplace of life itself. Exploring its depths is more challenging than venturing into space, but any one of us can glimpse its wonder by taking a few steps out from the beach.
Until 2012 I was the Ocean Correspondent for The Times: the world’s only national newspaper with a reporter dedicated to covering the 71 per cent of the planet that is covered by water. The beat is as wide as the horizon and as deep as the Mariana Trench, covering everything from offshore energy to environment, piracy to science, shipwrecks and exploration.
Before working for The Times I worked in marine archaeology, examining & excavating shipwrecks around the world. One project – the excavation of an Asian junk sunk in deep water off Vietnam – was the subject of my first book, Dragon Sea: A True Tale of Intrigue, Treasure and Adventure Under the Waves.
My second book was 72 Hours, the extraordinary story of the Royal Navy submarine rescue team and their dramatic last mission to save the crew of a trapped Russian submersible.
I’ve also filmed a couple of ocean-related series for the BBC. First off I presented a two-part BBC2 series on the forgotten shipwrecks of the river Thames, and in 2011 the same channel broadcast Britain’s Secret Seas.
After many years of investigating and writing about ocean issues, the importance and urgency of marine conservation has become very clear to me. I am a regular speaker at schools and other events on this subject, and am an Ambassador for the Blue Marine Foundation.
All these years of writing about people doing things to help discover more about our wild world and to conserve it, in 2012 I decided that I needed to become more active myself. I’ve grown legs and moved ashore for the time being, and am working as the Chief Operations Officer for Save The Elephants in Kenya.