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Merman of the month July – Mats Grimsæth

Without the sea and his sailboat, Mats Grimsæth would not have chosen life. As a photographer, speaker and expedition leader, he is constantly working to show other people how a strong relation to nature and the ocean can change your life, and be the rescue in hard times. He also wants to show people how badly the ocean needs rescue itself, and that every contribution is better than nothing.

Who are you?

Mats Grimsæth, 24 years old from Larvik. I work as a photographer, a speaker and as a skipper- I have lived four years in my own sailboat, and now I live in a campervan. I normally say that I live wherever I am. I dream of a society where it is easier for people to be themselves, where we can better cope with whatever we have experienced in the past, no matter what it is. When we learn to take care of ourselves, it will be easier to take care of each other, and not at least take care of the beautiful nature surrounding us. 

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What are you doing these days?

Right now I have just finished a trip to Jan Mayen for SeilNorge. I there serve the role as an expedition leader on where I bring with me people on trips in order for them to feel mastery, joy and freedom. I have now returned to Svalbard, and I am going to sail here for three more weeks. What I really like about this job, is that I can help people feel like they succeed with something. In addition, I get to introduce them to what changed everything for me: to create a relation with nature, and see the changes that happen here on Svalbard every year. I think that for many people, it is more important to take care of what you have a relation with. That is the best thing about this job, that I can introduce people to how incredible this nature can be. 

 “When the wind is blowing up, I just turn on my relaxing playlist and stand alone at the helm. I never feel more in the moment than on those days. At sea one can just be. And that is more than enough”

When did the ocean become important for you?

I grew up in Nevlunghavn, right beside the surf spot called Saltstein. All my life I’ve been walking my dog around in that area, and I’ve been going to different places there with my own boat. The ocean has always been near, but it was when I bought my first sailboat at the age of 17, without knowing anything about sailing, that the ocean became my savior. I sailed sideways and backwards without any clue, but it didn’t matter. On board the sailboat, it was my world. There was no one standing behind my back bullying me, no one who told me what to do. In my sailboat I could just be myself, and that was good enough. In that period of my life, I was at my lowest and most difficult point ever. Without the ocean and my sailboat, I would not have chosen life. 

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What role does the ocean play in your life? 

The ocean made me choose life, and made me work through what I thought was difficult. I started to talk about it, and the ocean took care of me. Since 2015, I have had the ocean as my backyard, and my address has been “somewhere along the Norwegian coast, at sea.” It has meant a great deal for me to be able to experience new bays and islands, to combine the ocean with hikes, to sail in unknown places and go back there with friends. When the wind is blowing up, I just turn on my relaxing playlist and stand alone at the helm. I never feel more in the moment than on those days. At sea one can just be. And that is more than enough. 

 “Every single place I have come ashore, I have found garbage or other traces after us humans. No matter if it has been on an island in the middle of the sea, or all the way north on Svalbard where the closest neighbor is the North Pole”

What do you do to take care of the ocean? What does tavaha mean to you? 

In 2009 a cargo ship named Full City ran aground right outside Mølen, and our dear area got spilled with almost 200 tons of oil. The first 24 hours 120 birds were euthanized, and for almost a month we did everything we could to remove the oil and save the wildlife. This experience changed me, in addition to having had the ocean as my closest neighbor for the last years. I got a very special relationship to the ocean, but I also got to see close up that there is no such thing as unspoiled nature anymore. Every single place I have come ashore, I have found garbage or other traces after us humans. No matter if it has been on an island in the middle of the sea, or all the way north on Svalbard where the closest neighbor is the North Pole. Through my job I get to do what I feel can help the most: showing this to other people, contribute to them having a positive relation with nature and that they understand why we have to act straight away. I do this among other things through my photography, showing everything from beautiful sunsets to when I got old remains from a trawl in my propeller in the middle of the Barents Sea. This way I can show people how beautiful nature can be, but also how much garbage there is in the ocean. 

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What do you think is the biggest challenge we have to solve in order to save the ocean?

To create a positive relation that make people do something. I have days when I just get disillusioned and sad over how much trash there is in nature. There are days I just don’t bother to pick up trash, and sometimes I find myself thinking, “Does it really matter if I pick that up?” It just seems so hopeless sometimes. Luckily, it helps to see that more and more people are caring and taking action, and contributing with small and big solutions. I think it might help if we changed some of our attitudes, for example we should not be almost hostile to the people not doing anything. We can rather show people how fast you can fill a bag with trash on your daily walk. It is important to say that it’s okay if you did not pick up trash today, and that you rather thank yourself when you have done a little bit. Even though it does not always seem that way, it is better to do small things than doing nothing at all. 

 

What are your three #tavahatips to take care of the ocean?

      Pick it up!

      Create a good relation; we take better care of what we love.

      Enjoy and take care of the ocean

 “Even though it does not always seem that way, it is better to do small things than doing nothing at all”

What is your happiest ocean memory? 

It’s just so many! Way too man. But in 2018 I sailed for 10/14 days in the North Atlantic Sea during the fall. It was a storm, and from the ten-meter tall waves, a fin whale came jumping. I can get quite enthusiastic and just let the camera run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyGChfoQcBs 

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Who are your everyday heroes?

Everyone who chooses life and whatever it might throw your way. And all of you who takes extra good care of the ocean. 

 

And last, what would you like to thank the ocean for?

Life. Living life. Live the ocean.