What happens when the artist can no longer sit back and play the passive observer in his creations but becomes compelled to become part of the art itself?

That much happened to Jeremy McKane, a former startup executive, turned artistic photographer that realized creating stunning photography was not enough, he had to do more to inspire action, create innovative solutions and unite a fragmented ocean community to work together to improve our oceans’ health. I had a chance to speak with Jeremy McKane as a cohost on the Break it Down Show, here’s what we discussed.

Action is exactly what the ocean needs, coupled with data and innovation to help resolve a dire ocean state which seems to get worse by the day. The stats are not pretty:

  • More plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050
  • A dump truck of plastic poured into the ocean every minute
  • 90% of the world’s coral projected to die by 2050
  • Sixth mass extinction event happening with major species die-off
  • A dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that is 7,829 square miles (size of Massachusetts)
  • Scientists find high levels of small plastic particles in the Arctic

I’ll stop before we all decide to slit our wrists in despair.

Yet, the truth is there is much to hope for and work towards as an ocean-loving community. McKane sees data as a core-foundation component to this work and it makes sense, as you can’t improve what you don’t measure. 

As the founder of the Ocean Currency Network (OCN.ai), McKane is building tools to analyze life below water uncovering data such as identifying the genetic codes of species, to measuring water salinity and pH, to determining the amount of micro-plastics in a particular area. The Ocean Currency Network, built on the Blockchain can both incentivize people for data collection, and reward positive ocean behavior. It can also take data to determine how Marine Protected Areas are performing. 

We have to give Jeremy McKane, OCN.ai people hope, because otherwise, the only thing we have is apathy. ~ Jeremy McKane

In tackling another critical issue the ocean faces of over-fishing, Jeremy has turned again to technology with the creation of the Mako, an autonomous vehicle that looks like a revamped jet-ski with the ability to travel at up to 60 knots, outfitted with cameras, sensors and an alarm system that can detect illegal fishing activity, approach shipping vehicles, sound the alarm, send notice to coast guards and even disable the vessel for apprehension by authorities. 

Jeremy’s other goal is to unite the ocean community which he does by hosting an annual gathering of the greatest minds in ocean conservation on Necker Island with his partner, Susi Mai, legendary kite-boarder and Sir Richard Branson, who is also an avid kite-boarder and Ocean Elder with a passion for the ocean. 

We touched on so much in this amazing conversation – be sure to have a listen to our conversation on The Break It Down Show podcast, check out Jeremy’s artwork, and upcoming Ocean Summit