Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

- Maha Upanishad



Jun 07, 2018

“Where’s your end of the road?”

“Why would you want to do that?”.


Mark Sawyer

“What’s wrong with where you live now?”

“You’ll be back, it’s better here.”

Or very occasionally, “I wish I had the guts to do what you’re doing.”

In 2014, my girlfriend and I gave up our career jobs, and decided to move to BC, Canada. We worked the winter as snowboard instructors at Fernie Alpine Resort. Building knowledge, developing friendships, but it felt more like a stop-gap. It just wasn’t home. To find “home” I’d need to reach the end of the road.

I was a teacher in the UK. Leaving a school and explaining to students where you were going would always lead to the same questions. The same confusion as to why you would ever dream of leaving the place they have grown up. Colleagues understood. The opportunity to remove ourselves from the daily grind, the grumble of engines and the grey of a concrete jungle, and place ourselves in the heart of lush rainforest and Pacific swell was too good to turn down.

After Fernie, we visited Tofino, BC. The intention was to find a job, and if we liked it – the “if” seems ridiculous at this point – we’d stay for the summer. Tofino, as all great places should, requires you to want to go there in order to get there. It’s as far West as Highway 4 goes on Vancouver Island. Situated in remote coastal temperate rainforest, it is, quite literally, the end of the road. No one passes through. No one is here just to get to the next town. This is it, and it is home.

Mark Sawyer. Jake: This Sea Otter is wrapped up in kelp. They do this when resting to avoid being moved around by tides and swell.

The appeal of Tofino is obvious after a quick internet search. Sprawling beaches, ancient rainforest, calm inlet waters, rolling Pacific swells. Kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding and hiking make up much of Tofino “to do” lists. That’s before you get to experience First Nation canoe tours or visit Hot Springs Cove. Everyone who visits Tofino does so for a purpose. No one accidentally stumbles across this place. Whether it’s to surf Canada’s most popular breaks, or paddle to the Big Tree Trail, people arrive with a goal. For me, that goal was wildlife.

Mark Sawyer. This Killer Whale, named T069, is what started my fascination. I spent hours trying to figure out who she was. I’m better at it now, but remember the feeling of figuring out her history. She was born in or before 1974, and is a mother of 5 surviving offspring. I’ve seen her multiple times since this encounter, and it’s always special.

Being born in the UK, it can be a frustrating existence having an interest in wildlife. Most of it fearful, much of it small, the UK has pockets of incredible wildlife; Tofino allows me to access some of the most interesting wildlife in the world, right on my doorstep. I work on the water as a wildlife guide. My daily grind includes harbour seals, sea lions, and sea otters. Grey whales or black bears the focal point of most tours. Occasionally humpback whales or coastal wolves will grace us with their presence. I spend my days off heading back onto the water, worried I’ll miss something. I watch eaglets grow and eventually fledge. I’ve seen bear cubs wrestle with their moms. Had curious grey whale calves spyhop and check us out.

Mark Sawyer. Ted’s Gang: Transient Killer Whales travel down Sidney Inlet at golden hour.

My most memorable moments have been with Killer Whales. Bigg’s Killer Whales spend over 80 days a year in the area. Mammal-eating Killer Whales, that I have now come to recognise by sight. I’ve seen hunts, watched new-borns socialise, heard them vocalise.

Mark Sawyer. Whale Tail: Our most frequently sighted cetacean, the Grey Whale, flukes while diving to feed.
A boy who grew up in a small mining town in the UK, is now a man who watches Killer Whales so often he can tell them apart.

To answer the question, “What’s wrong with where you live now?”, the answer is probably, “nothing”. But is it where you want to end up, or are you just passing through?

Where’s your end of the road?

Mark Sawyer. Lennard Last Light: The end of a Tofino sunset looking out over Lennard Island.

Mark Sawyer is a British expat, and wildlife viewing guide for Jamies Whale Watching Station in Tofino. You can find more of his photography here.

If you’re interested in finding the end to your road, check outdoorvoyage.com

Continue Reading



Jun 28, 2018

Belize Barrier Reef No Longer Endangered UNESCO World Heritage Site

Many commentators from around the world have been praising 'visionary' steps taken by Belize to ensure that the Belize Barrier Reef, the world's second-largest after Australia's, is no longer considered a 'World Heritage Site in Danger' by UNESCO.



The Outdoor Journal

According to a UNESCO report on June 26th, 2018, Belize has taken specific, important steps to ensure that the world’s second largest barrier reef system will be protected from oil exploration and other human activities.

As always, The Outdoor Journal contacted industry experts who know the oceans and coral better than anyone, to get their inside opinion.

Captain Paul Watson: Underwater photographer, award-winning film producer and ecotourism activist

“Belize has changed for the better in recent years. Recently, we were able to convince them to pull the flag and registration of a notorious pirate fish factory vessel, presently under arrest in Peru. I am encouraged that there is an effort to protect the unique and beautiful Belize Barrier Reef.”

“Back in 1998, I had to navigate through a passage on that reef in the midst of a storm, so I am quite familiar with how fragile this reef eco-system is. I trust that UNESCO is confident that Belize is seriously active in their protection efforts.”

You can follow Captain Paul Watson on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Jorge Cervera Hauser: Underwater photographer, award-winning film producer and ecotourism activist.

“It’s certainly uplifting to read that a reef is recovering, but that doesn’t mean there is not a long way to go. Something categorised as endangered means it’s very close to disappearing, and being removed from that category only means we can barely start doing something about it long term in order to really protect it.”

“Coral reefs everywhere in the world are being affected by many threats such as bleaching, acidification, plastic pollution, invasive species (such as the lionfish in Belize and throughout the Meso American barrier reef), and overload of scuba divers, especially in the most popular reefs. We need to take big steps fixing all of this before it’s too late, and ‘too late’ is long before it’s considered endangered.

A great example of this is Cabo Pulmo, one of the oldest coral reefs in the world and the most northern one in America. It’s a small but special place. What Sylvia Earle would call a hope spot. It was the local community that 20 years ago realised they were affecting the very same reef that provided them with a way of making a living through fishing. Before it was too late, the pushed for strict protection laws, turned it into a National Park, and switched over to sustainable eco-tourism activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, but in the most responsible way possible through training, certifications, and strict diving schedules that take the heavy impact of divers off the dive spots. In those 20 years, biomass increased by almost 500% and the small reef has flourished and returned to what we think it looked like thousands of years ago.

Another good example is the Revillagigedo Archipelago, also in Mexico, that was recently turned into the largest marine park of America, covering 148,000km2 and it was done while it still is a pristine, almost untouched environment. The challenge there is to implement surveillance and law enforcement against illegal fishing in such a big and remote area.

If we protect these Hope Spots, and do it right, life will flourish around them and the ocean will start to slowly recover.”

You can read a profile of Jorge entitled “Far from Shore” here, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Photo Courtesy Brocken Inaglory/ Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Andrea Marshall: Co-Founder at Marine Megafauna Foundation, Principal Scientist at MMF Global Manta Ray Program and Science Coordinator at WildMe ‘Manta Matcher’.

“It is exciting news. It is so important for our oceans to safeguard critical habitats like these. More than ever, countries are starting to step up and offer comprehensive support to important ocean ecosystems, moving away from ineffective ‘paper parks’ and usingscience-basedd management strategies, to secure effective and lasting protection for these sensitive marine environments. I applaud Belize for their efforts and commend their approach to saving this important heritage site.”
“I have not dived in this location myself but scientists at MMF have collaborated on research in the region on whale sharks, and I am glad that when I visit one day, I might find a flourishing well managed park.”
You can follow Dr. Andrea Marshall on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Recent Articles

Slopestyle Lifestyle with Cam McCaul

A true innovator on two wheels, freeride mountain biker Cam McCaul earns his wings in a high-flying sport with his wild ability to focus and his unwavering desire to push himself to new heights.

New World Record: Nirmal Purja Summits the 14 Highest Peaks in Just 6 Months

Nepali ex-soldier Nirmal Purja just smashed the record for summiting all the 8000ers in just half a year—the previous record? The same achievement took Kim Chang-ho, over seven years.

The Undeniable Beauty of Poland’s Gory Stolowe National Park

Visitors will find a rare-looking, 70 million year-old untouched land with rock formations and wildlife in this anomalous European landscape.