As is the case with many passionate activists, Ella Van Cleave was moved by a series of images. In this particular case, the images were from The Cove, a documentary that exposes the slaughter of more than 20,000 dolphins and porpoises off the coast of Japan every year. Despite the fact that this meat contains toxic levels of mercury, it is still sold to Japan and other parts of Asia, often masqueraded as whale meat. Ella was greatly disturbed by the footage and felt that she needed to take action. She bunkered down in her room and took to the Internet to find out as much as she could about dolphins and the difficulties they face due to human intervention. Her sudden and ferocious interest in the matter resulted in a new moniker: “Dolphin Girl.”

Despite the fact that Ella finds the nickname endearing, after all of the upsetting realities she has learned about marine life and the depreciation of the ocean, she didn’t want to be isolated as someone who “cares about dolphins and the ocean.” Instead, she thinks that everyone should be invested in the health of the ocean and hopes that her efforts will inspire others to also care. However, as Ella points out, not everyone is as enamored with the ocean, and many do not realize how imperative the health of the ocean is for our very own survival.


Considering the fact that overfishing is rampant, 8.8 million tons of plastic trash makes it way into the oceans each year, manure run-off from factory farms are causing toxic algal blooms and dead zones, we have to completely agree with Ella: a lot more people have to start caring about the oceans.

So, how does Ella plan on getting people caring about what she considers the “heart of life on Earth?” Simple. By reminding people of how majestic the ocean is through a documentary titled “To the Sea.” As Ella explains, “To The Sea is an entirely student-run project that hopes to bring a fresh perspective to marine conservation topics…one that highlights how humanity’s relationship with the ocean has changed, and what measures are necessary to remedy the damage we have caused. It is a story filled with both despair and hope, and the best part? We get to choose the ending.”

In order to make the film, Ella and her team have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the film equipment that will allow them to accurately capture the beauty of the ocean. Ella hopes that the film will “make conservation mainstream” and make people realize that while the ocean is known for being mysterious and complicated, that exploration of the sea can be exciting and incredibly personal. Sounds like a noble goal to us! To help Ella on her mission, consider donating to the campaign by clicking here.

Image source: Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project