Heirs to Our Oceans

Heirs to Our Oceans is a rising tide of young leaders around the globe who are taking the ocean crisis into their own hands, educating themselves and others, bringing hope and solutions to the surface, and creating waves of change that will ensure the health of our blue planet for their generation and for future generations. 


Heir Abirami Subramanian

 Age 10


My love of the ocean began when I used to sit with my brother as he studied fishes, but it got even stronger when I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and fell in love with the sea otters there.

It is easy to feel a strong sense of protection toward the fuzzy, smart, playful creatures of the sea. Many of them even share a lot of characteristics with humans. That is why, as an Heir to Our Oceans, my research is focused on dolphins and porpoises.  They are smart, happy creatures who need to be with their families and friends in their pods in the ocean.  Orcas have bigger brains than humans and are so smart!

Dolphins and porpoises are important to the health of our oceans and need to remain healthy and abundant in our oceans for our generation.  Dolphins, for example, eat sick fish which prevent humans who rely upon fish for their protein from eating the sick fish themselves.  So in effect dolphins can help prevent humans from getting sick!  Dolphins are also an important part of the food chain in the marine ecosystem.  Orcas, which are dolphins, sit at the very top of the food chain, and they are incredibly important to prevent trophic cascade.  We need these animals in our oceans! 

Dolphins, including orcas, and porpoises face a number of threats. For instance, Vaquita porpoises are the smallest cetaceans and only live in a special reserve near San Felipe, Mexico, near the top of the Gulf of California. Despite their protected status, they are nearing extinction because they are often caught in nets along with Totoaba fish, which are hunted illegally there.  Vaquitas sit at the very top of the food chain in their ecosystem.  We need to prevent their extinction for our health and the health of future generations. 

As I have become more knowledgeable about these marine mammals and the problems they face, I have realized that they are in real danger and need a voice.  I am their voice.  We need them in our oceans. 


Heir Arjun Subramanian

Age 13


I have loved the ocean for as long as I can remember. It all started with my obsession with sharks and rays, which was fueled by trips to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and visits to the beach to explore tide pools.

When I was in fourth grade, I attended a talk on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and learned how seabirds and fish were ingesting plastics. This angered me—and still does. That is why I am studying the problems associated with plastic pollution.

As part of my research, I have met with and spoken to several experts and activists who are looking for ways to keep plastics out of our oceans and to clean up the plastics that are already there. This is a very big problem, and it must be addressed quickly, because the amount of plastic going into our oceans is still increasing.


Heir Charley Peebler

Age 13


At 5 years old I was walking through the California Academy of Sciences. I stopped in front of the octopus tank, but seeing nothing, I turned to leave. Then — Boom! — there it was, the octopus dancing before my very eyes.

I had the same experience at a few other aquariums. Then, earlier this year, I was at the tide pools at Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay and finally saw what I was seeking: an octopus—in the wild. It came out into the open and changed its color and texture right there in front of me. I knew then that I had to protect these mesmerizing creatures.

Unfortunately, we have a big problem. Our oceans are dying. If our oceans die, our planet will die. Every year we dump millions of tons of plastic into the oceans, we generate enough carbon emissions that our ocean temperature and acidity is rising, preventing sea life from growing and living, and we over-fish so many different species of fish and can’t even trust if the fish on our plates is cod or shark!

What if what we're doing to our oceans today causes my children to not be able to see these wonderful sea creatures, including the octopus? I don’t want this to happen. To prevent this, we need to make a change.


Heir Dakota Peebler aka Dr. Sea Otter

Age 11


I have always had a connection to the ocean. From the time I was about two years old, I was determined to be a pirate. I wanted to cast off on a great adventure sailing my ship around the seas.

Four years ago, while taking a sailing class in the San Francisco Bay, I saw a pod of harbor porpoises that were returning to the bay after being gone for more than 60 years. What an inspiration!

I started researching marine mammals after that, wanting to learn more about all of them. I took classes with naturalists on the coast, at the Marine Mammal Center, at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, and last year I did a year-long class at the Marine Science Institute.

While kayaking in Santa Cruz when I was nine, I saw my first wild baby sea otter. Since then, I have been dedicated to researching and protecting these amazing creatures. I have learned that sea otters are a keystone species: They keep sea kelp—which is a major contributor to our planet's oxygen supply—alive by preying upon urchins and other invertebrates that eat the kelp.

Once, sea otters were nearly hunted to extinction, but they are making a comeback. Unfortunately, a single major oil spill could wipe out the entire sea otter population along the California coast. We can't allow this to happen. We need our kelp. We need sea otters.


Heir Aislinn Clark

Age 11


I have lived by the ocean my whole life, and it has taught me that human actions can have dire consequences. My family and I like to go tide pooling, and sea stars have always been one of my favorite things to find—that is, before virtually all of them disappeared from sea star wasting. Research suggests that global warming is a big contributor to this disease and many other problems affecting our oceans.

Unfortunately, we humans don't like to change—and often we don't like to do what's good for us, either. That's why I have chosen to focus my work with Heirs to Our Oceans on legislation and policy making. We need to step up our efforts, locally, statewide, as nations and around the world, if we are going to save our oceans—and ourselves.


Heir Octavia “Shay” Barton

Age 12


I am a 7th grader and was recently christened Chapter Youth Leader of Pescadero Middle School’s Heirs To Our Oceans’ chapter in Pescadero, Ca.  I was born there, at our tiny beach and agriculture-centric town. Because of my surroundings -- the town has redwoods, the beach, acres of wild space -- I've always been aware of the deleterious effects of human carelessness on our environment. Additionally, my father was a sea captain, and his stories about what he has seen over the course of his life have prompted in me awareness of what our oceans are facing. 

This past year I realized the necessity of political and everyday awareness and involvement on a scale much larger than what is assumed to be adequate. I am focusing on the current administration's environmental policies and how they directly impact the health of the oceans.  For my generation.


Heir Chloe McKenna

Age 15


I have always had a passion for water and the ocean. Water has a healing and nourishing power that I can't escape. This is what drives me to take action to protect something so close to me so others, future generations, can experience what I feel.

I fell in love with whales as I visited SeaWorld as a young child. Even at a young age, I knew people shouldn't be looking at these magnificent creatures through a glass barrier. This is the moment I knew I would need to help them have a voice.

As I grew older, I started reading more books about the ocean and everything that inhabited it. I then realized that I didn’t want to only save whales, porpoises and orcas and other dolphins (yes, orcas are dolphins, the biggest) because I fell in love with them, but also because we need them in our oceans!  They help keep our oceans alive and healthy!  They therefore help keep me healthy!  I realized that I wanted to study this for the rest of my life as a marine biologist. Dr. Sylvia Earle has been my idol for as long as I can remember as one of the first female marine biologists.

I discovered more and more problems than just dolphin captivity due to human ignorance, and I began to realize that saving the ocean was a large task for a young girl. I was introduced to climate change, plastic pollution, and more, and I began talking to more and more people wherever I went about these issues. As a teenager in high school, most of my friends don't care about these problems like I do. When I told one of my friends that some of our beaches will be gone in a few decades due to sea level rise, she didn't even flinch or think about the generation to come.

I am so glad that I found Heirs To Our Oceans with like-minded youth as me. I am proudly the Chapter Youth Leader of the Orange County, CA, chapter, the chapter I started.  My chapter studies plastic pollution and engages in outreach educating others and encouraging them to get active in protecting against plastic pollution.  

I now finally feel like I found a place where I can go outside of the box youth are put in, that place that doesn’t recognize that youth can be aware of and help solve the real world issue of our ocean crisis.  I am active in dealing with the problems our water planet faces now, standing up along with my fellow Heirs to help save our oceans for my generation and generations to come.