Harry Baker, founder of Marine Madness: shining a light on the weird and wonderful world of our oceans

By Harry Baker.

Marine Madness is an up and coming blog site focused on all types of marine life and the issues that affect them in a changing ocean. Creator and editor Harry Baker talks about the reasons behind it, the transition from researcher to writer and why it is so important to showcase the amazing creatures that live in our oceans.

When I started Marine Madness last year, I had no idea if it was something I was likely to commit to or even enjoy. After studying marine biology at the University of Exeter, I had decided that a career in research science really wasn’t for me. But I was left with no way to explore and express my passion for the oceans and the animals that call them home. One part of my degree I had enjoyed was science communication and so I began talking to friends and family about what I had learned at university. But to my surprise most had never even heard of the issues I was talking about, let alone aware of just how serious they were. I began to realise that more people needed to be told what was really going on and I wondered if maybe that was something I could be a part of.

So I decided to start a blog with the goal of making people more aware of important issues facing our oceans and why they really matter. But it is hard to get people to care about things that they feel so disconnected from. At first it was definitely a challenge. I didn’t know how get people to feel the same way about what I was writing about as I did. But I came across across a quote that would change the way I thought about and approached my blog. The pioneering oceanographer and marine explore Jacques Cousteau famously said: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”. This resonated with me and I realised that I only cared about the marine world because I had been lucky enough to experience its beauty and wonder first hand. But other were not so lucky. It dawned on me that for people to care about conserving and protecting our oceans they would first have to experience them like I had.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever” – Jacques Cousteau

As a result Marine Madness has become as much about the amazing marine creatures in our oceans as the issues that are affecting them. From immortal jellyfish, rainbow octopuses and boxing shrimp to singing whales, sleeping fish and glow-in-the-dark sharks. I try to showcase a wide range of marine life and the awesome adaptations and abilities that make people fall in love with them. By doing this I not only produce articles that are more fun and interesting to read. But I also highlight to people why it is important to protect and conserve the marine world. For example no one is going to want to protect octopuses if they have no idea just how intelligent and incredibly interesting they really are.

We also try to highlight the big issues of a changing ocean and break down complex problems into easy to understand and care about topics. This includes issues like commercial whaling, plastic pollution, coral bleaching and overfishing. But I have also found that rather than just being all ‘doom and gloom’ about the state of our oceans it is also important to highlight the incredible work done by people on the front line. As a result we also show off cutting edge technologies and research that are making a real difference. Such as drone surveys, eDNA and infrared cameras. I also find that the passion and creativity shown by the people involved is infectious for the people reading it.

The beauty of writing about the marine world is that it is so weird and wonderful that it sells itself. I am a firm believer that given the chance everyone can fall in love with the ocean and the creatures that live there. The trick is giving people that chance.

If you would like to read Harry’s blog or maybe even try your hand at contributing check out Marine Madness and follow the blog on twitter @Marine_Madness.

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