April 11, 2019



As you read this, guests are gathering at Bondi Beach on Sydney’s brilliant coast to celebrate the launch of the Sydney Coast Hope Spot. The new Hope Spot is championed by the Ocean Lovers Festival in conjunction with Underwater Earth at an action-packed, 4-day event featuring on-shore live entertainment, art, photography presentations and practical workshops centered around the themes of conservation and sustainability. Starting today, April 11th through April 14th, attendees of the Ocean Lovers Festival will also enjoy a film festival, including a special screening of Mission Blue.


“It is a dream come true not just for our festival, but for all our Sydney Ocean Lovers to have the support of Mission Blue to recognize Sydney’s cherished coastline on the international stage with a Hope Spot,” said Festival founder Anita Kolni.

The Hope Spot opening celebration will be held at 2:30pm on April 12th at the iconic Icebergs Club, Australia’s oldest swimming club marking 90 years. The Icebergs tidal pool will feature a crayweed installation in recognition of the Operation Crayweed restoration project currently underway at the Hope Spot.



Crayweed is a seaweed that was once dominant in the waters off the coast of Sydney that form dense underwater forests that support the area’s diverse marine ecosystem. Mission Blue founder Dr. Sylvia Earle believes that understanding plants is the first step to understanding any ecosystem – she has conducted considerable research in marine botany and completed her dissertation Phaeophyta of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in 1969 in which she collected and studied more than 20,000 samples of algae. Dr. Earle’s mission is to ignite public support in protecting the Earth’s waters through a network of marine protected areas, also called Hope Spots, with the idea that when the life in the ocean is healthy, it ensures that the life on land can enjoy a healthy existence, as well.

Crayweed was at one point a dominant aquatic plant in Sydney’s waters.

A dive into Sydney’s striking blue waters will reveal more than 600 species of vibrantly colored fish including the weedy seadragon and the Eastern blue devilfish – magnificent species found nowhere else in the world. Sydney is also on the humpback and Southern right whale migration routes with historic Southern right whale calving grounds in Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Harbour is also home to the last mainland colony of little penguins on the New South Wales coast, who only grow to 33cm and are the smallest penguins on Earth!


Sydney’s Little Penguins.

“For over seven years Underwater Earth has been revealing the magic of the world’s ocean to millions of people globally placing our 360-degree immersive technology in such platforms as Google Street View, and today we celebrate as we see our home coastal waters of Sydney so rightly awarded as a Mission Blue Hope Spot and critical area for protection” said Lorna Parry, Co-founder of Underwater Earth.


SVII camera © Sophie Ansel, Underwater Earth.

Unfortunately, the area has suffered under mounting pressure from pollution, overdevelopment on the coast, the increasing human population and negative effects of climate change including rising sea temperatures. Plastic pollution is choking the waterways and harming wildlife. In the last two years, coral bleaching reached Sydney Harbour for the first time. With so much at stake and less than 1% of Sydney’s blue backyard currently protected, it is our privilege and duty to protect the coast for both the marine life and future generations who reside here. The Sydney Coast Hope Spot is an investment into the future that can ensure we pass a healthy legacy on to the next generation. The solution includes reducing our carbon footprint, rejecting single-use plastic and promoting responsible development policy in Sydney.


Blue Groper

Dr. Earle remarks, “I have a particular fondness of the waters around the Sydney coast, now declared at this festival as a Hope Spot. You have such an amazing opportunity to take action – now – while these creatures, while these systems still remain.”

She continues, “The waters around Australia have treasures that are special, but they’re at risk. Not because people are trying to lose them or trying to harm them, but because of the pressure that comes from our activities that are spilling over into the ocean – what we’re putting into the sea and taking out of it. Going back to the time of the 1970s when we really didn’t know that it mattered; we had an idea that the ocean would always recover no matter what. But now we know and we have the evidence. Now you – ‘Ocean Lovers’ – you have a special role. You know why the ocean matters and you know that you have power to do something to protect what remains and to restore what we can of what has been damaged.”

The Ocean Lovers Film Festival launch their opening night on April 12th at the Bondi Pavilion Theatre and continue through April 13th – 14th. Be sure to catch a special screening of Mission Blue on Sunday, April 14 at 3pm. Stay tuned for Facebook and Instagram Live sessions from the event and behind-the-scenes moments of all the action.

Anita Kolni, Founder and Carolyn Grant, Director of Engagement, Ocean Lovers Festival (c) Franck Gazzola

Sydney’s coastal waters are the pride and joy of the region and perhaps one of the continent’s greatest assets with more than 13 million visitors flocking to its beaches every year to enjoy its glowing sun and inspiring marine life. The treasures of the Sydney coast need to be preserved, and with the public’s involvement and support, we can ensure a healthy future for Sydney’s marine ecosystem and of the rest of the world’s oceans, as well.

Weedy seadragon

LINK FOR MEDIA: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1C1ywQKrYWFsBDTgmuCGBICkrdjx9lGxJ?usp=sharing

About Mission Blue

Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots. Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Google Earth. Mission Blue embarks on regular oceanic expeditions that shed light on these vital ecosystems and build support for their protection. Mission Blue also supports the work of conservation NGOs around the world that share the mission of building public support for ocean protection. The Mission Blue alliance includes more than 200 respected ocean conservation groups and like-minded organizations.

About Ocean Lovers Festival

The Ocean Lovers Festival was founded in 2019 by Anita Kolni and a local team of ocean lovers. It’s an annual celebration of Ideas, Art+Music and Actions, showcasing some of the latest innovations, science, state-of-the-art technology and cool ideas for helping the oceans. The Inaugural Ocean Lovers Festival was staged in April 2019 at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, as a place providing hope and positive messaging around oceans. It promotes eco and sustainable practices in a multi-channel showcase of solutions to ocean recovery, cool products, projects and ideas, showcasing global alliances as well as local best practice. Mainstream and digital media channels each exceeded a reach of 1 million.

The Festival showcases successful marine projects restoring the coastal ecology, hero’s ocean innovating entrepreneurs, promotes indigenous coastal care and gives a platform to ocean champions, marine scientists, government initiatives and community groups. Ocean Lovers #iseachange movement is a year-round campaign driving them to engage people in hope for the oceans, with an annual Festival in Bondi and pop up events throughout the year, utilizing Australia’s most iconic beach locations to deliver some “Science in your Swimmers” and expand a blue zone of awareness along the Australian Coast which includes the footprint of our Sydney Coast Hope Spot.

Beyond inspiring action and behavioral change, Anita created the festival with a vision to bring awareness and action for the oceans to the widest possible audience, to educate them on ocean issues and solutions and drive community support and business innovation collaborations for clean seas and restored ecosystems.

About Underwater Earth

Underwater Earth is an Australian non-profit, established in 2010, with a global focus – to reveal the ocean to the world using creative storytelling combined with innovative technology. We are the team behind Google Street View underwater. Our 360-degree imagery is the most viewed underwater imagery in history with views in the billions. We led the XL Catlin Seaview Survey, a project that spanned five years and involved scientific coral reef surveys across 26 countries, collecting over 1 million panoramic underwater images, resulting in the world’s largest scientific visual archive of underwater environments.
Under our brand Seaview 360 we are pioneers in the production of underwater 360 VR films. Our collection of virtual dives from Sydney and over 200 other locations globally can be found here on Google Earth.

Swimmer in North Bondi (c) Christophe Bailhache, Underwater Earth



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