SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 22, March 2017 - Page 84

Bruckner Chase

Ocean Positive

Kevin Majoros

memorizing anyone’s talking points. I was just sharing an experience,” Chase says. “I realized then that my journey has the ability to help people connect to the ocean.”

In the next year, Chase partnered with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in an ongoing relationship to embark on missionary trips to American Samoa to promote water safety, conduct swim clinics and inspire communities to discover their personal connection to the ocean. He also has provided training for the Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol and firefighters in American Samoa.

“The people of American Samoa have an ancestral connection to the ocean that dates back over 3,000 years, yet few there know how to swim,” says Chase. “There is strength in bringing together modern approaches to the ancestral teachings and marrying that to the culture.”

Just last month Chase returned from a 12-day mission to Poland for his Blue Journey initiative which uses what people know and love about ocean sports and connects that to ocean conservation.

The trip was filled with extensive outreach and included a conference for life saving professionals, guest coaching with youth and masters swimmers and speaking engagements with roughly 1,000 students and teachers.

The impetus for the trip came when Chase met a polish national at the Life Saving World Championships in the Netherlands in September of 2016. Included in the Blue Journey initiative is the concept of enabling disabled individuals to find their connection to the ocean. The trip was groundbreaking in sharing information on aquatic sport, safety, science and conservation and there is now interest from New Zealand and Australia for a similar engagement.

“I went over to Poland with very few expectations and it turned out to be a profoundly impactful trip as it resonated to a larger audience than I expected,” Chase says. “There is very little adaptation needed for disabled individuals to accomplish prone paddle boarding. It means that this is something they can do on a regular basis to change their quality of life.”

After returning from Poland, Chase realized the multi-pronged engagement role he plays in multiple initiatives. To say it is extensive would be an understatement. Here is just a glimpse:

●NOAA National Weather Service – facilitating the connection with the lifesaving community and working to build an outreach model for protecting our communities and oceans.

●Unified Team – engaging people with spinal cord injuries to participate in surf lifesaving sports.

●World Conservation Society New York Aquarium, New York Seascape, Hudson Canyon MPA – facilitating information that impacts the marine community in a positive way.

●Red Bull Wings for Life – supporting research and studies about spinal cord injuries.

The list of connected organizations is just as extensive and includes Seafood Watch, Ocean Today, Blue Mind and the Bacharach Rehabilitation Hospital.

Bruckner Chase is currently based in Ocean City, NJ and is always accompanied on his ocean swims by his wife Michelle, who is also an avid ocean athlete, and provides coaching and logistics during his swims.

This spring you can expect to see both of them at the Red Bull Surf and Rescue Competition which is held annually in New Jersey as well as at events in Delaware and Maryland.

“The ocean rewards us with unique opportunities and the ocean loves wisdom,” says Chase. “If we gain more wisdom, we will better understand the ocean. It takes a community to create positive action.”

here is an emotion that most people feel when they hear an incredibly inspiring speaker talking about

protecting the ocean. Bruckner Chase is aiming to reconnect that feeling and passion into sustainable action through his nonprofit, Bruckner Chase Ocean Positive.

“Our focus is on evidence based programs and I feel like it is more than just raising awareness,” says Chase. “I believe we really need to connect awareness with personal sustainable action.”

To encapsulate what Chase has already accomplished as an athlete and as an ocean advocate in one story would be difficult, but a good place to start would be with one of his favorite quotes by Jacques Yves Cousteau.

“When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.”

Ocean Positive is aiming to strengthen and expand their messaging on ocean & beach safety, science and ocean conservation. This will include designing and developing new content to reach diverse communities to make our oceans and beaches safer. Their positive message introduces ocean conservation with the backdrop and excitement of sports.

Growing up in Memphis, TN, Chase didn’t participate in organized sports and never perceived himself as an athlete. That would all change when he spent his junior year of high school living with a host family in Australia.

“The father of the family was a runner and I entered a marathon on a lark with the intent to drop out at the halfway mark,” Chase says. “I had an epiphany moment when I crossed that finished line and it launched a lifetime of discovery as to what I could achieve.”

Those achievements span 35 years and include a stint on the Rice University swim team, competing as a professional triathlete, conquering a 100-mile endurance run, competing in professional surf lifesaving sports along with multiple endurance swimming crossings including a no wetsuit swim in Alaska and a historic trek swimming between the islands of American Samoa.

It was during a failed attempt to swim across the Monterey Bay in California in 2009 that something clicked inside Chase to begin a new path as an ocean ambassador. At that point he was working as a project manager and director of store development for companies such as Abercrombie and Fitch and West Marine. He would leave all of that behind to work full-time on Ocean Positive.

“Something happened when I was swimming the Monterey Bay that day. I found the physical environment that my body was meant to be in,” says Chase. “It harkened back to that kid in Australia that wanted to know what he could accomplish.”

Chase conquered the Monterey Bay the following year and the crossing was used to help promote marine protections and marine sanctuaries. He went from failing, to completing the swim with a public focus to create awareness. It also resulted in establishing a relationship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which is still ongoing.

“When I was speaking to the media after completing the Monterey Bay swim, I noticed I wasn’t memorizing anyone’s talking points. I was just sharing an experience,” Chase says. “I realized then that my journey has the ability to help people connect to the ocean.”

In the next year, Chase partnered with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in an ongoing relationship to embark on missionary trips to American Samoa to promote water safety, conduct swim clinics and inspire communities to discover their personal connection to the ocean. He also has provided training for the Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol and firefighters in American Samoa.

“The people of American Samoa have an ancestral connection to the ocean that dates back over 3,000 years, yet few there know how to swim,” says Chase. “There is strength in bringing together modern approaches to the ancestral teachings and marrying that to the culture.”

Just last month Chase returned from a 12-day mission to Poland for his Blue Journey initiative which uses what people know and love about ocean sports and connects that to ocean conservation.

The trip was filled with extensive outreach and included a conference for life saving professionals, guest coaching with youth and masters swimmers and speaking engagements with roughly 1,000 students and teachers.

The impetus for the trip came when Chase met a polish national at the Life Saving World Championships in the Netherlands in September of 2016. Included in the Blue Journey initiative is the concept of enabling disabled individuals to find their connection to the ocean. The trip was groundbreaking in sharing information on aquatic sport, safety, science and conservation and there is now interest from New Zealand and Australia for a similar engagement.

“I went over to Poland with very few expectations and it turned out to be a profoundly impactful trip as it resonated to a larger audience than I expected,” Chase says. “There is very little adaptation needed for disabled individuals to accomplish prone paddle boarding. It means that this is something they can do on a regular basis to change their quality of life.”

After returning from Poland, Chase realized the multi-pronged engagement role he plays in multiple initiatives. To say it is extensive would be an understatement. Here is just a glimpse:

●NOAA National Weather Service – facilitating the connection with the lifesaving community and working to build an outreach model for protecting our communities and oceans.

●Unified Team – engaging people with spinal cord injuries to participate in surf lifesaving sports.

●World Conservation Society New York Aquarium, New York Seascape, Hudson Canyon MPA – facilitating information that impacts the marine community in a positive way.

●Red Bull Wings for Life – supporting research and studies about spinal cord injuries.

The list of connected organizations is just as extensive and includes Seafood Watch, Ocean Today, Blue Mind and the Bacharach Rehabilitation Hospital.

Bruckner Chase is currently based in Ocean City, NJ and is always accompanied on his ocean swims by his wife Michelle, who is also an avid ocean athlete, and provides coaching and logistics during his swims.

This spring you can expect to see both of them at the Red Bull Surf and Rescue Competition which is held annually in New Jersey as well as at events in Delaware and Maryland.

“The ocean rewards us with unique opportunities and the ocean loves wisdom,” says Chase. “If we gain more wisdom, we will better understand the ocean. It takes a community to create positive action.”

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March 2017 - Sustainable Travel

84 - SEVENSEAS