Anne Doubilet: From Ocean Explorer to Dedicated Activist

Courtesy Anne Doubilet

Courtesy Anne Doubilet

Anne Doubilet is an underwater explorer, photographer and writer who brings the experience and insights of more than 5,000 dives and hundreds of hours underwater to her work. In 2007, she took WINGS Flag #10 on a diving expedition, alongside Dr. Eugenie Clark “The Shark Lady,” in the remote waters off New Britain Island in Papua New Guinea to locate and observe Plotosus lineatus, the poisonous catfish. 

WINGS WORLDQUEST: You carried the WINGS flag in 2007. Can you share some of the highlights of your life and career that have happened since that time?

Anne Doubilet: 2007 was an epic year for me. After carrying the WINGS flag on an expedition to Papua New Guinea with Dr. Eugenie Clark, my life teacher and mentor, I traveled from the southern hemisphere near the bottom of our planet to the Arctic at the top of the world. As a chaperone and photography advisor for Students on Ice, I witnessed first hand the effects of a warming planet during one of the warmest northern seasons since record-keeping commenced. Since then the warming curve keeps going up. Journeying from coral reefs to expanses of ice inspired my ongoing body of work, CORAL AND ICE, photographs of melting ice and vanishing corals, that was exhibited at the National Arts Club in New York City. 

Several years later, invited by Captain Alfred McLaren, USN to Lake Tahoe, I joined a small group of The Explorers Club members and journalists for test dives in his two-person submersible. An invitation to dive and photograph in Indonesia and Komodo sent me to explore new places with treasured old dive buddies. Being out in the wilderness, it’s often people who make the place and ensure your survival! Exploration requires a team. An expedition to Antarctica added to my CORAL AND ICE work and gave me the opportunity to walk around at the bottom of the world in its crystalline air, melting icebergs, and millions of penguins. It’s been an incredible decade of seeing the world where, in the words of Leonardo Da Vinci, “Everything connects to everything else.”

WWQ: Can you catch us up on the work you’re currently doing? 

AD: Right now I am working on a retrospective of my work – both written and photographic. It takes a new kind of courage to stay home and edit thousands of images and words! Inspired by Dr. Sylvia Earle, who urged us all to work for a healthy ocean, doing whatever is within our means, I have created a line of sustainable bracelets I call HOPE Cuffs. HOPE: Help Ocean Protect Earth. Yes, it’s all connected! My daughter calls them “green eye candy!” Imprinted with my worldwide underwater photographs on 90% post-consumer recycled aluminum, I want to help promote awareness for a clean ocean with the 3 Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse. I have morphed from just an Ocean Lover to an Ocean Activist.

WWQ: How do you think the landscape for women working in exploration has changed since 2007? 

AD: I think the climate today for women who want to explore is much more receptive than it was in 2007. Female capability, ability, talent and courage — although we know have always been there! — are qualities that no longer define as male. 

WWQ: What advice do you have for women who want to be explorers?

AD: Curiosity and never taking no for an answer are two of my most valuable pieces of advice to anyone who wants to explore or live a productive and meaningful life. Everyone can be and is an explorer — you don’t have to go to Papua New Guinea to be curious about your planet. You can go out in your own backyard to grow tomatoes and, when blight ruins your crop, start over. 

Courtesy Anne Doubilet

Courtesy Anne Doubilet

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