Nicola Tsiolis is an 18-year-old Cypriot-Australian student with a burning passion for the ocean. Since the age of seven, she has aspired to become a Marine Biologist and work within the ocean; learning, discovering, protecting and conserving the abundant, extraordinary life that lives within the ocean’s depths.
As an Ocean Youth Ambassador (Sea Life Trust) 2019 alumni, Nicola has created an organisation with the agenda to create positive environmental change called Sea Change Network. Her ambitions are to not only push for legislative changes in Australia but also to provide students with the tools and skills needed to create their own student-led social justice and environmental groups.
Nicola has also recently become a part of the World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, seeking every opportunity to learn and grow deeper with a team of like-minded young people.
Ocean Ambassador Q&A
When and why did ocean sustainability first become important to you?
From a very young age about 6 or 7 I had an incredible moment that truly put me on the path I am now, an experience with a green sea turtle while snorkelling. And from that very day I've wanted to become a marine biologist and still do. So the oceans sustainability and biodiversity was always so important to me. But I feel the moment that I knew why, were the times in primary school I'd go fishing with my dad. Most of the time never catching anything, but the times we did, the fish would always be really tiny, fish that we'd never think to bring them home for dinner. Instead I'd give them a kiss and throw them back in. But others would think otherwise, and it'd make me so angry seeing these people reel in 5 or 6 really baby tiger flatheads or whiting when those fish had their whole lives ahead of them.
How big a challenge for humankind, is the protection of our oceans?
I truly believe that humankind is incredibly innovative and ingenious. I do not think for one second the protection of our oceans is difficult for us. It is complex of course, there are many challenges involved but there are so many of us, so much growth and goodness.
I feel the challenge comes from within, I think the biggest obstacle is looking within and being true and honest with ourselves. I feel that true change and positive growth is innate, but must begin by looking within and understand that we all are connected, we all have a moral obligation to positive growth in ourselves, to each-other and our big blue planet for generations.
Congratulations on becoming an Ocean Youth Ambassador on the World Ocean’s Day Youth Advisory Committee! What led you to apply?
Thank you, I am also so incredibly grateful for such an extraordinary opportunity! I had recently become a Ocean Youth ambassador (2019) for Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium and the experience really allowed me to develop my vision and understanding of what is important to me. It truly allowed me to connect with such passionate young people, where the energy is infectious and invigorating. I saw World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council as an opportunity that could continue in this way and I did not think twice.
What's your favourite sustainable seafood dish?
I'm going to have to say sustainable fresh snapper that my grandmother cooks. It’s a whole snapper with lemon juice and olive oil and that's it. It's delicious.
Fish or crustaceans?
In terms of food choice, hard to choose, however probably fish as I have really only tried a few different species and there are so many varieties and so many ways to prepare them.
In terms of marine animal, I am going to have to say fish too, not only because of their ranging structures and colours but I feel, many have such a cheeky personality.
Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise, there is something about waking up when it's still dark, where nobody is awake and being present with birds chirping and just watching a new day present itself.
Malala or Greta?
I cannot choose. Both are incredible, passionate and strong women who use their voices and stand against the injustices we all face today.
If you could be a marine creature which would it be?
Without a doubt I would be an octopus, they are unbelievable and having the ability to camouflage would be the closest thing to Harry Potters invisibility cloak.
What’s your favourite thing to do in your spare time?
Spend my time within nature taking photos with my (blue-eyed) cat Hurley Blue, he is the closest thing to the ocean I can get when I'm not down by the coast.
We see you’re a keen film-maker and photographer! Any tips for a beginner who is learning to shoot video on their smartphone?
Shoot and create as often as possible. You do not need a fancy camera or expensive software, honestly anything will do! What I personally found really helpful when I was starting off and even now, is trying understand what I'm wanting to portray, what emotions come with it and what sort of footage makes an impact on you. Try and find footage or images from other film-makers/photographers that inspires you and pick out the elements that resonate with you the most. Get out there!
The ocean’s problems can feel overwhelming. What’s the most positive and inspirational ocean story you’ve come across?
I'm connected to so many incredible change makers, all with a profound passion for the ocean. So to me personally I hear positive and inspirational stories about the ocean more often than not, which is a feeling so many of us (including me, prior) unfortunately do not have the chance to experience a lot.
However, the most recent story that I can say that has been most uplifting, is the Norwegian Oil Company that had pulled away from its treacherous oil drilling plans in the Great Australian Bight. What a victory for all the local surfers, fishermen/women and connected coastal communities that is. Such a win for our oceans.
Meet all the Ocean Ambassadors
From award-winning chefs to adventurers to photographers, the Ocean Ambassadors are united by a love of the oceans and the seafood they bring us. Meet these advocates of healthy, sustainable seas.