A free diver, conservationist, and designer living in Hawaii, Natalie co-founded the nonprofit Keiko Conservation and manages its international chapters in Norway, Russia, Japan, Italy and Ecuador. Keiko Conservation’s mission is to leverage social media to spread awareness and petition governments and businesses to do more for ocean life. She also currently works at Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and Oceanic Preservation Society. Natalie has been featured as a diver in a variety of projects that range from short films to documentaries. Her ultimate goal is to find creative ways for absolutely anyone to get involved in marine conservation from anywhere in the world.
The ocean is the place where I feel safest, most inspired, humbled and energized. Freediving allows me to stay there for longer and explore deeper. I feel that I owe everything to the sea and it’s the least I can do to try and give back to it as best as I can. It’s so hard to pick a favorite moment, but I think it would have to be that magical feeling that comes with knowing anything could happen. You never know what you’re going to see in the open ocean and no matter how many times you dive in the same location, it’s different every time. A giant whale shark could appear from the abyss or a pod of orcas could cruise by and give you a look. It’s the best feeling in the world.
I’m originally from Southern California. I grew up playing in the ocean, but it wasn’t until I was visiting the island of Oahu prior to moving there that I tried freediving for the first time. It felt like flying and I couldn’t get enough of it. I immediately started researching more about the sport, taking courses and learning from fellow free divers.
I’m really inspired by those who have fought so hard and relentlessly for wildlife their entire lives. With so many issues affecting the environment, working in conservation can sometimes feel really discouraging. People like Sylvia Earle, Ric O’Barry and Jane Goodall always inspire me to keep pushing forward and remember that there’s so much left worth fighting for.
Even when I’m not underwater, my life still revolves around the ocean. I work for multiple organizations that utilize film and social media to encourage the public to get more involved in marine conservation. I love finding ways to inspire people enough that they take action for the ocean and marine life. I also love traveling and getting to explore different ocean ecosystems around the world, especially ones that are isolated, protected, and full of wildlife. They are becoming increasingly harder to find and the public needs to see the beautiful biodiversity that we risk losing before it’s too late.
Definitely the Gara Modular Carbon Fins. I really feel like I can get so much distance and momentum out of every kick. I also love that I only need to slightly pivot my feet to easily navigate through small areas like caves and lava tubes.
My very first pair of fins were by Cressi — the Gara 3000. I did so much research beforehand to find the right fins and I was so happy with them when they came in the mail. I still have them! I’ve tried other brands and gear from fellow free divers, but I still love my Cressi fins. When I was approached to be an Ambassador, I was honored. I still am! I love the Cressi brand, its history, and the amount of specificity that goes into the detail and efficiency of their gear. Being an Ambassador for Cressi gives me the opportunity to share my experiences under the surface with people around the world and show them the beauty of the ocean and the life that calls it home so they’re inspired to protect it.