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March 27, 2020
SunButter ambassador Anouska "Nush" Freedman is a photographer-videographer, free diver, ocean conservationist and all-round legend.
How did you get into what you’re doing?
I think my passion for the ocean led me to the path I am on today. I must admit I have done many random jobs (e.g. scrubbing bush drop toilets) which somehow ended up leading me to photography and television for natural history. It's been a wild ride and I can't wait to see where it goes next.
What motivates you?
Conservation, the ocean and the great outdoors is definitely what motivates me. I am pretty lucky to live in Exmouth WA which is a hotspot for all things ocean and wildlife. Going into the unknown to see what you can capture every day to put towards conservation is pretty special. I also work on a whale shark/humpback whale swim boat and seeing the thrill and joy on peoples face's the first time they see one of these incredible creatures is so motivating and I want to continue helping to spreading this joy. It's important for people to see and experience so they realise how special the underwater world is and that we should protect it for years to come. Also my partner Dre is super motivating. He is always teaching me new things, pushing me to chase my dreams and is pretty much my life coach hahaha a lot of what I know has come from him.
Have you ever had a scary experience?
I think everyone who works in or around the ocean has some pretty salty stories to tell hahaha. I think one of my scariest experiences was during a kayak tour working on the west coast. It started off as a glassy, no wind day and about half way through the tour about 1km off shore the wind started blowing about 25 knots northerly due to a change in course from a passing tropical cyclone which wasn't forecasted. Kayaks were flipping left right and centre and I had a guy on tour who was paralysed from the waist down on the kayak tour. His kayak flipped and he was held under water for quite some time before I could get over there and flip the kayak back the right way (he was strapped in to the kayak for balance). No one was hurt on the tour, but it taught me to never be complacent as I was feeling pretty relaxed with how the morning was going before this point. It taught me that no matter what nature is always powerful and you should always be ready for whatever it can throw at you.
What’s your most touching experience?
I must admit I have been very blessed with touching experiences with wildlife, the animals really make my heart happy. One that sticks in my mind however is from some years ago when I was in Indonesia. I was out on a morning run and came across a a turtle nest being washed away with the tide and turtle eggs were flowing into the ocean. I was young at the time — 18 — and didn't have much experience with conservation back then so I called over some locals and asked what to do. They told me to dig up the eggs and carry them across the island to the turtle sanctuary. So we dug up 140 turtle eggs which I put in a box filled with sand. I then started running across the island to the turtle sanctuary. The message had spread across the island and all the locals were yelling out "turtle girl this way this way". It would of been a sight — me legging it carrying a huge box salty and sandy as heck but I made it to the sanctuary and they were ready with a hole to put the eggs back into as soon as possible. I hope at least one of the turtles survived, I don't think I have ever run so fast in all my life! As we went to leave the sanctuary that day, another nest they had at the sanctuary hatched and we got to watch the babies run down to the ocean. It was almost like a special thank you!
How do you continue to educate yourself?
Someone once told me to learn something new every day and I definitely try to. I think reading and volunteering are great ones to learn as well as just talking to people. I think it's always important to listen to what others have to say that is the best way of learning for me.
What’s your advice for anyone wanting to get involved?
Something I have definitely learnt over the years is to accept opportunities that come your way no matter how weird or hard they may seem. I never knew what was coming my way before I moved to Exmouth. The first job I took was a housekeeping job in the national park and part of that was scrubbing the drop dunnies but, you know, that led to tour guiding, underwater photography and presenting for National Geographic so yeah just go with your gut and make a positive experience out of everything and it will always work out how it's meant to.
Also volunteering for anything you want to get into is a great way to start because you learn the ins and outs, network and meet people working in a field you want to get in to and usually end up having heaps of fun and learning so much. A lot of the wildlife conservation filming/photography I have done started as volunteer and then turned into jobs later on.
What’s your message/mission statement?
Protect what you love. To me that's the ocean and its creatures. It was my first love and it will be my last. Even doing a little ends up going a long way.
If there was a one word reminder that kept you going, what is it?
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. This is something my parents used to say to me as a kid and I think it applies to everyone you keep going because you will get there in the end yew!
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