Today we talk with Roy Mulder, an activist, conservationist, videographer, and scuba diver from the Great North. While not a scientist by training, Roy’s forty years of diving off both Canadian coasts has given him a unique perspective on how our oceans are changing. He remembers seeing just a single cod while on a multi-day dive trip in the North Atlantic, ironically enough captured in an abandoned crab trap. Once representing the largest fishery our planet has ever seen, cod have been essentially wiped out in the nutrient-rich waters of the North Atlantic and are rarely seen by divers or fishers in the region.
While many may come away from such experiences blaming the fishing industry or local politicians for mismanaging these stocks, Roy decided that the best thing he could do for our marine habitats is to protect them himself. Together with local divers and wildlife enthusiasts, Roy convinced members of the Canadian government to establish a marine sanctuary for rockfish in the North Pacific, just offshore from Vancouver. Roy’s also been a key voice in the movement to extend the park boundary of Haskett Bay Provincial Park to protect a neighboring glass sponge reef. Together with the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, the Underwater Council of British Columbia, the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society, and the Canadian Marine Environment Protection Society, Roy has fought to make sure underwater treasures, like glass sponge reefs, are guaranteed the same protections beneath the ocean that national parks receive on land.
When he’s not out diving with government officials on behalf of our marine ecosystems, Roy spends much of his time spreading awareness and increasing science literacy in his community. As a professional videographer, Roy is able to bring stunning underwater footage to those without the necessary training or abilities to access these secluded ecosystems. His hope is that by showing elected officials, stakeholders, and private citizens how majestic yet fragile our coastal habitats are, we might start recognizing how important it is to ensure they are protected.
One great example of the impact added awareness can have on marine conservation is the Blackfish saga. Recently, Sea World announced that it will be ending its orca breeding program, a statement that came after two years of financial losses and public backlash against the organization after the release of the documentary “Blackfish.” For someone like Roy, who has seen these marine mammals both in captivity and in the wild, the choice as to whether or not Sea World should keep them in captivity was obvious.
“I look at how sentient cetaceans are. I’ve been in the water with orcas and seen them in the wild. I’ve been in the depths of the aquarium at night with the lights off watching an orca swimming in psychotic circles upside down. I’ve seen all sides of this and I’ve come to my own conclusions. Once you see that majestic cetacean in the wild, to me it’s just so bloody obvious. That’s what drives me to do what I do.”
Enjoy the Podcast!