Amongst the most poignant realizations of our times is the damage we have caused to our sentient, non-human counterparts. Between all acknowledgement and collective will to do better in the future, the heart of it all lies in accepting what is gone and cannot be undone. At such a time, it is not just one’s moral duty to make sure the pattern is broken and a more egalitarian world is curated for both human and non-human beings; it is also the only thing that makes us most human – the ability to work with compassion and humanity. Ocean safari leader and entrepreneur, Carla Virgos, is making sure to do her part – morally and passionately.
As someone who has experienced life in the landlocked city of Madrid and London, Carla understands thoroughly how big of a privilege it is to be around the ocean. Born to a Mexican-Spanish family, she always wanted to be near open waters. When she moved to the UK to major in International Business Management at the University of Bristol, she was finally closer to the coast than ever before. As soon as she graduated, however, she got a job at a global firm as a broker in London and soon found herself enfolded in the monotonous 9-5 routine. One day, frustrated with how far she felt from her true passion, she packed her bags and flew to the Maldives.
Here she saw closely the beauty of marine life, the vastness of space that was the Indian Ocean. She enjoyed diving and swimming with the sharks. But this was also when she realized how wrong the common understanding of marine wildlife went. Far from being the vicious, ruthless creatures they are portrayed to be, Carla saw the tender need to form connections and be one with nature. She believes this happened intuitively, and that’s when she understood how grave the state of affairs was around the ocean.
From the excessive plastic misuse to misinformation about oceanic beings’ needs, the violence against the ocean was relentless. In response to this, Carla founded her business with a team of local experts – Nazykko, main partner, ocean expert, diver, freediver, and safety diver, and Ageel, photographer, videographer, and divemaster, – called Kandu (meaning ocean in Devihi, the Maldivian language).
With Kandu, Carla, alongside her team, wants to reduce plastic use, so it does not end up in the ocean, which is hazardous for marine life. She does this by providing tourists and her clients with reusable, recyclable utensils, reducing waste accumulation. For instance, they give eco-friendly lunch boxes that are made out of wheat straw fibers and recycled plastic. In addition, they have also started rolling out flasks, so the use of plastic bottles is lessened.
Another way Carla is bringing about sustainable change is by educating. She organizes trips and excursions which are at once recreational and educational. Through these custom and general trips, she shows her clients the room for coexistence between marine and territorial beings. At the same time, this helps change the perception that animals, regardless of space, are autonomous beings that should not be tamed for the benefit of human beings. Carla believes, “Swimming with marine mammals is both a spiritual moment and an adrenaline rush, made all the more magical by the knowledge that with wild animals, encounters are on their terms.”
With Kandu, Carla and her team are doing important work that has become necessary in recent times. The ecological crisis is aggravating with each passing year, and it is really the responsible, ethical, and passionate change-bearers like Carla Virgos that the world needs.