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November 30, 2023

Christina Ochoa: Storytelling for ocean conservation


© Michael Dornellas

Growing up by the coast in Spain, Christina Ochoa often was left to her own devices. As she wandered the tide pools and beaches along the ocean, they became her “safe place.” Ochoa felt an inherent instinct to love and protect nature — but she doesn’t think her experience is unique. “Aren’t all children instinctually drawn to climbing trees or obsessing over bugs and shells?” she asks. “Maybe I just got lucky because learning about nature was encouraged.”

A scientist by training and an actor by trade, Ochoa is known for her roles in films and shows, including Promised Land, A Million Little Things, Blood Drive, and Animal Kingdom, but does not limit herself to telling stories on screen. She built her career by pursuing challenge and discovery from studying science to taking up acting in her twenties. It’s no surprise, then, that when she traveled to the Bahamas with Oceana in April 2023, alongside producer and activist Dylan Efron and underwater photographer and filmmaker Andre Musgrove, who share Ochoa’s love for the ocean, her favorite part —aside from the sharks — was seeing the videographers who accompanied them overcome their fears and fall in love with these animals, some even swimming with them for the first time.

Ochoa’s love for sharks, which began at an early age, is one of the reasons she was drawn to ocean conservation. Bringing her passion for cultivating curiosity in kids and adults alike to her role as Oceana ambassador, Ochoa is passionate about many issues facing our ocean — and the millions who depend on it — including protecting sharks, establishing marine protected areas, fighting single-used plastics, climate change, deep-sea mining, and more. “My goal is always to support organizations who are unrelenting and consistently taking steps towards a better future,” she says. “Joining forces with Oceana was an obvious ‘yes.'”

Since joining Oceana, Ochoa has contributed her skills and platform to address many issues facing the oceans, from recording videos in support of habitat and shark conservation campaigns, to sharing calls-to-action on social media to generate support for campaigns such as Oceana’s efforts to pass plastics reduction legislation in California.

“Together, we can create change on a massive scale,” Ochoa says. “Oceana has the resources, connections, will, and power to have our efforts multiplied, to change legislature, create lasting infrastructures, and shift social awareness.”

Ochoa understands the challenge of advocating for just and worthy causes while “continuously attempting to educate others of why they’re so worthy.” This is why science is most powerful when expressed as stories, she explains. “Not everyone has a favorite peer-reviewed paper, but EVERYONE has a favorite movie, show, book, poem…a story. It’s human to connect with a story and then care. Why not use that to our advantage?”

Christina Ochoa (center), activist and producer Dylan Efron (left), and underwater photographer and filmmaker Andre Musgrove (right) traveled to the Bahamas with Oceana, where they swam with sharks. © Michael Dornellas