The Conservation Life

By Jillian Morris-Brake

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Jillian filming hammerhead sharks in Bimini Image: Grant Johnson

I have been fascinated by the ocean for as long as I can remember. As a child I spent hours crawling around tide pools on the coast of Maine and saw my first shark snorkeling in Florida at the age of 8. I knew I wanted to be a marine biologist by the time I was 5 and that curiosity and passion never changed.

After graduating from the University of New England with a behavioral biology degree I set out for a life on the water. On this journey I have worked as an onboard biologist for eco-tours, dive guide, photographer, videographer, researcher and marine biologist. I have been out of the cage with great whites, seen a lemon shark give birth and have been surrounded by the grace and beauty of ten great hammerheads. Sharks have become the focal point of my adult life and my water born experiences have led to a life where every week is shark week. 

I started my career as a research assistant working around the world to study sharks and worked on projects in California, the Florida Keys, Western Australia and the Bahamas. As a professional photographer and videographer I have worked for National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery and BBC, sharing the story of sharks with the world. All of this passion and experience has come together to create this shark filled life I share with my amazing husband who is almost as shark obsessed as I am.

I feel so much gratitude for the amount of time I get to spend with these magnificent creatures. Being based in the Bahamas has gifted me with the ability to see and work with sharks every single day. In 2012 I created Sharks4Kids, Inc. a US non-profit with the goal of creating the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure. We launched the website on November 7, 2013 and since then we have connected with over 50, 000 students in person and via Skype in 47 US States and 37 countries. We offer a diverse range of education materials to replace fear with facts and inspire students to speak up, knowing they have a voice and can make a difference.

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Jillian teaching students about sharks in Freeport, Grand Bahama Image: Duncan Brake

We also offer in field experience taking students on shark snorkels, dives and tagging trips. We want students to have their own personal experience with sharks because it is the most powerful tool in breaking away stereotypes and instilling fascination where fear once existed.

The world of shark conservation can be heartbreaking, but speaking to students of all ages always gives me hope. They want to get involved, they want to make a change and I genuinely believe they will save sharks. They inspire me to keep fighting for these animals every single day.

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Jillian photographing nurse sharks in the Exumas Image: Duncan Brake

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Ocean Geographic Explorer (OGX) is a diving adventure resource with a special focus on marine photography and ocean conservation. Our content is divided up into six primary categories: Travel, Sea Science,  Equipment, Photography &Video, Conservation, and Lifestyle. We endeavor be a portal for people with all levels of interest in the marine environment  to learn about and become part of a community of like-minded ocean lovers who enjoy sharing their knowledge of and experiences in our fascinating ocean world.

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