A marine biologist, avid freediver, spear fisherwoman and underwater photographer. To say Exmouth based U&I Ambassador, Jackie Brown is a frequent ocean dweller is an understatement. Living and breathing the ocean and truly immersing herself in the lifestyle that goes along with it, U&I Label asked Jackie if we could dive with her into her background, inspiration, goals and ocean experience.
Photo: Brodie Moss
It can be addictive, this love of the ocean. How did it all start for you?
“I knew I always loved the ocean but it wasn’t until my first snorkel at Moreton Island on the famous shipwreck that I wanted to pursue it even further. I wanted to know every detail of the fish and coral life. My passion was sparked that day and I was so very lucky we had family trips there every year.”
Are there any influencers that have inspired you along the way?
“Defiantly, David Attenborough has been a huge inspiration for as long as I can remember. Rob Stewart sparked my curiosity for sharks. The drive he had for shark conservation in his documentary, Sharkwater, really made me appreciate rare people like him doing so much important conservation work and spreading awareness. The greatest Australian icon that ever existed, Steve Irwin, he would have some of the most incredible stories and as kids growing we really looked up to him especially being surrounded by bushland. Catching snakes and lizards or trying to save injured wildlife was a favorite hobby of ours”.
No wonder your interest in the ocean came with you through to adulthood! We’d love to hear a bit more about your work and why you love what you do.
“I currently work for a whale shark tourism charter vessel in the Ningaloo Reef as a Marine Biologist and Dive Master. Working in this industry gives me the opportunity to educate thousands of tourists on the importance of ecotourism, observing animals in the wild and shark conservation. I’m also currently learning underwater photography in depth and love sharing to the world how valuable the ocean’s ecosystems are, especially the apex predators, sharks.”
Photo: Jarrad Oxley
Such epic work! Where would you like Marine Biology to lead you?
“I would love to one day make it across the world photographing sharks underwater and learning their different behaviors. It would be a huge goal of mine to join shark research projects to help myself and others understand the complexities of sharks. Especially if understanding sharks a bit more could help protect swimmers and surfers in their territory and implicate protection methods that are safe for both marine life and humans.”
It’s fair to say that would be quite the experience! Do you have any advice for women out there hoping to follow a similar path?
“If you don’t try what’s the point? You’ve got nothing to lose so give it your all!”
Photo: Jarrad Oxley
Let’s talk about feelings. What does the ocean do to you?
“I instantly feel relaxed even if it’s rough conditions, it somehow wraps its sea breeze around your mind and all of your senses putting you in a state of meditation.”
You must have had some pretty epic ocean moments in your time.
Are there any that stand out for you?
“If I had to pick one it would have to be a recent experience seeing a rare white humpback whale on the west coast and having the opportunity to swim with it under water. It was something I’ll never forget and the way it glowed underwater had me completely mesmerised.”
What about the scariest moment in the ocean, that moment of “Oh, Sh**?”
“Being a spear fisherwomen I’ve had a few scary shark moments but they make you realise how much respect you have for them. My most scary moment was when I realised going through a 10-meter swim, at a depth of 18 meters, that I wasn’t going to make it to the top. I was lucky to have my partner behind me and he knew exactly what to do in shallow water blackout scenarios.”
You’re quite fearless to get back in after that. Anything you’re scared of?
“I have a huge fear of creepy crawlers in pools”.
Photo: Jarrad Oxley
For someone who spends a heck of a lot of time in the ocean, do you have any go-to swim/surf wear items?
“My must have is a rash guard for sun protection. My ultimate go to at the moment is the U&I Rincon One piece. It’s literally saving my skin!”
Thank you so much for our little sneak peek into your world, Jackie! What a world it is. Finally, what do you love most about surfing or diving in U&I Label swimwear?
“It’s super easy and quick to put on for a girl always wanting to get out there quickly and not miss anything! It has this super soft comfy feeling but is durable as well, especially under Australia’s harsh conditions!”
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