We asked speakers at the 2022 Global Biodiversity Festival to share their story of how they ended up in their current career. For Prashant Mohesh, that journey started by conquering his fear of the ocean.

Prashant is a National Geographic Young Explorer and the Founder & Expedition Leader of The Oceanic Project. His work focuses on engaging youth to explore, educate, and take action to protect our ocean and is supported by National Geographic and The United States Embassy in Mauritius.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about my job is living an adventurous life every day. I grew up in a small island in the Indian Ocean called Mauritius. Here we enjoy a tropical climate and beautiful biodiversity. There’s a magical world beneath the waves and I really love diving with sharks, whales and dolphins. The second thing I love about my job is using the power of storytelling to explore, educate and engage people to take action to protect our ocean. I started exploring the ocean in 2014 and every time I dive, I take photos of different fish species and corals. I have witnessed coral bleaching and I took photos as well. Now, I raise awareness to make people aware of what’s happening beneath the waves and also engage youth to protect the ocean fins on or fins off.

When did you know you wanted to pursue the work you’re currently doing?

I am someone who went from fearing the ocean to protecting it.

I wanted to pursue the work that I am doing because when I first explored the ocean in 2014, I saw some shallow water corals and they were in different shapes and colors. Some were colorful, and the others were white and black. This sparked my curiosity to know more about why there’s less fish around the black/white ones and why coral reefs are important. I didn't learn much about this in school, so I started by doing citizen science research, watching National Geographic documentaries, and reading National Geographic magazine. I then understood the critical role of the ocean in climate regulation and why coral reefs matter despite covering less than 1% of the ocean floor.

Our survival depends on a healthy ocean and I am on the frontline to protect the ocean in Mauritius and engage youth to become to become caring planetary stewards. ,

Was there an educator or mentor who inspired you when you were young?

Dr Enric Sala, Paul Rose, and Dr Sylvia Earle are my heroes, and they inspired me in my change-making journey.

If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give to your 18-year-old self?

Do what you love and put your happiness first.

What advice would you give students today who want to pursue a career in STEM?

Do the best you can, and don't let your mind tell you that you can't do something. Don't let your circumstances determine your future.

What advice would you give parents who want to raise children who care about climate change, conservation, and STEM?

Do volunteering often. This will expose their children into a new environment. They will see and hear things they have never experienced before. These experiences will help them explore different paths in life.

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