Although we are based out of Philadelphia, we work with and ship to customers all over the country. That is one of the great parts about what we do, however, the one downfall is that we don’t always get to meet our customers face to face.
Sometimes, in fits of luck, we run into our customers in unexpected places. For example, while we were interviewing music fans at Bonnaroo last month, we just so happened to run into some friends and former customers of ours from the nonprofit group Beneath The Waves. Talk about a small world! We got to talking and thought it would be a lot of fun to feature the organization, and to highlight some of the important work they’re doing all around the world.
Beneath The Waves is a globally active organization headquartered in Miami, Florida. Founded in 2009 by Austin Gallagher and Erica Staaterman, their mission is to raise awareness about critical marine issues, foster the advancement of science, and promote the protection of our oceans.
Gallagher and Staaterman were both graduate students at the University of Miami when they started Beneath the Waves as a way to communicate their research in the marine sciences. In the early days, the two founders decided that there was no better way to explain the research they were doing than by utilizing a visual medium like film. Before long, Beneath the Waves grew into its very own film festival.
Slowly but surely, Gallagher and Staaterman started to solicit short films from all over the world about marine issues that all shared a message about the ocean and how to help protect it. Today, they have solicited more than 300 films from filmmakers and marine researchers across the world, and organize 15 to 20 festivals per year globally.
Making Students of Us All
Since its beginning, Beneath the Waves has expanded to include a youth education platform, in which the organization partners with the local Miami community. The program brings middle schoolers and high schoolers together to develop films, and then holds a festival featuring them. The two students with the best cuts win the opportunity to go on a research expedition with the organization.
While film is the bread and butter of the Beneath the Waves palette, it is just one aspect of the story. Keeping in line with the academic spirit that it was founded upon, original research on marine ecosystems is also a huge part of the organization’s mission. Part of the initiative includes observing and tagging sharks in the high seas to learn how fishing pressure is affecting sharks. BTW employees are also working to tag hammerhead sharks off the coast of Japan in order to better understand their behavior, as well as the ways in which illegal fishing affects them and their ecosystems.
Setting Global Goals
One of the nonprofit’s major goals is to advance the understanding of sharks around the world. Sharks are at the top of the marine food chain, making them extremely important predators. Gallagher, Staaterman, and their team are interested in learning how the daily activities of humans, like fishing, are affecting these top predators and the ocean environments all around us.
Beneath The Waves takes a few different approaches to research. They work with academics and filmmakers that are looking for ways to communicate their research, but they also publish research to inform and influence policymakers. Without research like this, there’d be no way to continue protecting and conserving the health of our oceans and the species that live there.
Receiving a Positive Response
The film festival platform gets a very positive response as the films reach folks of all ages and backgrounds. The events help build an understanding for those who have never seen the beauty and breadth of the ocean in person. Part of the appeal of the traveling film festival is to help educate everyone about our oceans, not just those who live near the coasts. By connecting with people and allowing them to grapple with the ways they might become better ocean stewards, Beneath the Waves brings inspiration for us to all help lessen the threats facing the ocean.
We’re happy to support Beneath The Waves in their mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans. To learn more about Beneath The Waves, or to find out how you can get involved, you can visit www.beneaththewaves.org.