SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 22, March 2017 - Page 85

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.”

March 2017 - Sustainable Travel