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An Ocean Story

I first ventured into the ocean at the age of 5 at Diver's Cove in my home town of Laguna Beach, California.  As I peered through my mask at the fascinating creatures that inhabited the shallows my initial fear left me and was replaced by a sense of wonder.   I knew instantly that this was my home, my oasis, my playground, and my sustenance.  I had returned to the belly of the mother of all life and never wanted to leave.  I became an avid diver, and a child marine biologist and oceanographer.  I could identify the phylum classification of any ocean creature by the age of 6.  I could explain the physics behind 'Archimedes' Principle' or 'Boyle's Law' by the age of 7.  I was obsessed with the ocean and it's creatures and wanted to learn everything there was to know about the sea. 

Riz Story
Diver's Cove - Laguna Beach, California

At age 10 my family moved to Boynton Beach, Florida where we lived steps away from the reef.  I fell in love with surfing and spent 100% of my time at the beach where I would sit with the lifeguards between surf sessions. George, the head lifeguard, became my best friend and he gave me my first surfboard.   We would sit for hours on the lifeguard stand as he taught me about all the different kinds of waves, and the way they break.  I became skilled at surfing, especially for my age and I was somewhat of a source of pride and a mascot for the lifeguards who had mentored me.  They were the first to refer to me as something that I took great pride in;  'A Waterman'.

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Boynton Beach, Florida

The next phase was that of the Blue Water Hunter.  During the downtime at Laguna Beach Divers, where I worked, I had read Carlos Eyle's classic book on spearfishing, "Last of the Blue Water Hunters".  I was mesmerized by his tales of high adventure spearing giant tuna and fighting off sharks.  Later that same day I walked down to the cove determined to land a Calico Bass.  That evening I enjoyed a barbecued seafood dinner that I had caught with my own hands.  Something about living off the sea resonated deeply with me.  For years I lived almost exclusively off the bounty found in the clear waters  of the coves and majestic kelp forests.  I became somewhat of a figurehead in my tribe because for some reason I was able to consistently land the largest and most sought after fish in the region, the elusive white sea bass.  Spending countless hours in the sea resulted in a rich life full of adventures and fun.  Me and the boys ate like kings!

Riz Story
Riz Story
Blue Water Hunter - Laguna Beach, California
circa 1990

Next came the sailing phase.  I was living on a friend's boat in Dana Point Harbor at the time, a tiny 22 foot Catalina sailboat.  My small home remained at dock until one day the owner wanted to go sailing.  I'd spent many many days on boats at sea but I'd never been sailing.  That afternoon we made a beam reach to the mouth of the harbor in a stiff onshore wind. The boat, which was my home, was heeling over hard as we raced along, powered only by the wind.  Something in me was awakened... The echo in my DNA of my seafaring forefathers perhaps? 

Later I would buy my own sailboat, The Beechbuds, which I would sail constantly.  I knew nothing of sailing, no terms, no techniques aside from what I had learned from a 'how to sail' video which I'd come upon.  I sailed by instinct.  Gradually the many invitations I extended to my friends were politely refused and I was forced to sail alone.  Everyone warned me to not ever sail alone but soon I began to prefer it.  I began to make the 30 mile crossing to Catalina Island, sailing solo, routinely.  There was much I loved about sailing;  The challenge of putting up sails in a stiff wind with no one to hold her steady - The solitude of being far away from the static hum of humanity, with its discord and folly - The feeling of pulling into a tranquil and sheltered cove as the sun set and throwing anchor after a wet and exhilarating crossing.  These were the moments I lived for.

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Sailing the Beechbuds
circa 2000

By 2012 my love of filmmaking had taken to the air as I took part in the earliest days of the emergence of drones, and now it was time to return to the sea.  I acquired an underwater camera rig and found yet another passion within my beloved ocean.  Shooting moving pictures in the ethereal underwater realm was a revelation to me. Nothing on land could approach the depth of the lights dynamic ranges, the shadows and  textures or the rich colors of the depths.  The seed was planted for a new direction in my filmmaking.  

Riz Story
Filming in the Kingdom of Fiji

Which brings us to the present.  In recent years my deep love of the sea has been trampled and ravaged by the exponential disappearance of the coral reefs and kelp forests, all due directly to humanity's impact.  Every species from the majestic sharks to the magnificent whales have been ravaged by mankind as they proceed, like somnambulists marching blindly to their own extinction.

I had to take action.  There was no other choice.  For me there would be no reason to live without a healthy ocean. And there will be no way we can survive as a species if we destroy the source of all life.  What seemed so obvious to me seemed to be lost on the vast majority of the earth's population.  I realized that less than 1% of the worlds population had ever been scuba diving and personally experienced the awe-inspiring magic of the hidden world.    

It was clear that lack of eduction lay behind the ignorance in those who don't understand our utter reliance upon our ocean habitat, but there was a much more notorious element;  Corporate Motive.  

As a species on earth humanity must have the wisdom to understand that nature is more than just a pretty picture on TV, but in fact the most fundamental requirement for our survival.

That is why I founded THE OCEAN SOCIETY.  I decided that I must film the disappearing underwater habitats and creatures explicitly for the purpose of sharing them with posterity - So that our children, and their children may see them clearly after they are gone.  In the last ten years half of the coral reefs have been lost, and with the disgraceful ignorance and greed displayed by politicians and corporate influences there is no evidence that man will correct its present course toward unthinkable disaster.  

We must take a stand.

It would seem that humanity is a virus, a scourge upon the face of the earth destroying everything it touches.  I resolved to remove myself from the destruction and try to live in harmony with nature.  Join me in paying homage to the great mother of all living things.  Lets protect the mother who has given us life -  Not merely for us, but for her.  

The Ocean is the mother of all life...  And her name is OCEANA.

                                         With Aloha,


                                                         August 24th, 2017

Riz Story
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