Meet Lindsay Watson, an athlete, world traveler and avid wildlife and environmental conservationist and advocate for protecting our planet. Read on to hear her inspiring story told in her words.
I have had the privilege of living in Bermuda the last 9+ years and am originally from the Northeast US. Growing up on a small lake outside NYC as a child and spending my weekends in the mountains of Vermont I developed a love for nature both above and below the waterline. I was a child that constantly explored and was fascinated by the nature around me, which has continued throughout my life.
Growing up I came from an academically and athletically motivated household where both of my parents had participated in Olympic trials in their respective sports (sailing for my father and field hockey for my mother). With this focus and drive I spent most of my childhood outside participating in sports and also building on my attraction to the wildlife and environment around me. While I grew up competitive in several sports skiing ended up stealing the spotlight as I became internationally ranked, and I in turn attended ski academy in Vermont (GMVS - Green Mountain Valley School). One of the requirements of GMVS was community service, which helped spawn my current drive and fulfilment. Throughout high school I was involved with such things as Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at local schools, nursing homes and maintaining various parks and trails.
Lindsay skiing in Chamonix, France
The water has always played a major role in my life and my passion for marine life and conservation was catapulted upon the unexpected passing of my mother at a young age. While I had grown up as some might say part fish, I had not yet taken the plunge (pardon the pun) in the world of scuba diving. As my parents had a scuba trip booked just a few weeks after her death I decided I would join my father and obtain my PADI certification. This trip and experience opened a new underwater world to me which spawned my future exploration in this field.
Throughout University and my working days, I continued to remain involved in various charities and volunteer work as my time allowed. Three years ago, I made a decision to leave my corporate life which then allowed me the opportunity to focus my time and energy on what I was most passionate about – the betterment of the world and environment around me. During this life shift I was able to travel working with numerous charities around the globe creating a learning environment for myself and continuingly build my knowledge base and desire for more.
Africa has always held a piece of my heart since I first travelled there, and I was privileged to work with numerous charities throughout the continent. One of my most memorable trips was volunteering with DAKTARI Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage in South Africa. Through the combination of the bush school and the wildlife orphanage, DAKTARI has developed an immersive educational experience for local children to learn about the wildlife around them, the environment, anti-poaching and a wide variety of other issues.
Bottle feeding an orphaned bushbuck at DAKTARI in South Africa
Building on my love of marine conservation I was excited for the opportunity to work with Nosy Be Conservation in Madagascar. During my time assisting with the coral research and rehabilitation I became interested if Bermuda was taking part in such a project. Through a simple search I became connected with Dr. Samia Sarkis and Living Reefs Foundation here in Bermuda. Upon my return home to Bermuda, I began my work with this project both in the lab and with the underwater coral garden. Living Reefs Foundation is the first of its kind in Bermuda and is dedicated to the conservation of Bermuda's coral reefs - an ecosystem fundamental to sustaining the island's community now and in the future. Through my connection to Samia and the coral research I was contacted by Dr. Alex Amat at the Bermuda Aquarium and was asked to assist with Kids on the Reef. Kids on the Reef is an immersive two-day program for Bermudian school children which teaches the skills and knowledge for youth to become safe free divers and advocates for global ocean issues facing Bermuda. The programme includes both confined water and open-water free diving instruction along with teaching coral reef ecology, ocean conservation, and personal development through setting goals and coaching mental and body awareness.
Lindsay hard at work for the Bermuda Living Reefs Foundation
In late 2019, during the Bolivian civil unrest, I had the chance to volunteer at La Senda Verde (LSV) Animal Refuge. In recent years, illegal animal trafficking, high deforestation, agricultural activities, pesticide use and indiscriminate burning of forests among others have increased dramatically in Bolivia. The illegal trade in animals is the third most lucrative illicit business in the world and as a result of this situation, the population of animals in LSV has quadrupled in the last five years. LSV is currently home to more than 800 rescued animals, 64 different species. During my time at LSV I cared for dozens of various species of Animals but shortly upon my arrival it was noted my connection to many of the primate species and I was then tasked with personally caring for three orphaned howler monkeys ranging from 2-4 months old.
Howler monkeys at La Senda Verde Animal Refuge
While this has been a trying year for us all it was a pleasure to know that during these difficult times, I was able to give back and make a positive impact here in Bermuda and can be found down at the local SPCA 5+ days a week and was honoured to be awarded with co-volunteer of the year at the SPCA in 2020.
Lindsay with Chance, one of the dogs from the Bermuda SPCA, after he had just donated blood to help save another's dogs life. Chance was recently adopted
Like most of us I look forward to the day I can travel and explore the world once again as I have and endless desire for exploration and growth of knowledge. During a trip to Uganda and Kenya the concept of directly packing supplies needed in remote regions rather than donating to unknown charities hit me. While my initial lightbulb moment drew me to creating my own organization once again a bit of research lead me to an organization known as Pack For a Purpose. As the world morphs back to a new form of normalcy and travel around the globe begins again, I hope resources such as these are thought of and utilized. Not only can a small gesture make a large impact, but this can show how tourism and travel can also make a positive force in the world.
Lindsay wearing Daughters of Summer Sienna One Piece in Fire Coral
Follow Lindsay along her adventures on Instagram.
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