Two Minutes with Brinkley Davies
Model, pro surfer, REEF ambassador, marine biologist and ocean conservationist. What doesn’t Brinkley Davies do?
We caught up with the 22-year-old to talk swimming with sharks, ocean awareness and conservation projects, being a vegan and what’s next.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a property near the coast in South Australia, which was awesome fun to grow up on. My family also has a house on Yorke Peninsula, where I spent majority of my school holidays and weekends.
Where are you based currently?
In Port Lincoln, which is on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.
You have a strong affiliation/passion with the ocean. How did this come to be?
Definitely growing up being surrounded by the ocean. Between surfing and over time learning about different areas and animals, I knew I wanted to live a life a surrounded by it, and was later inspired to do my best to conserve it.
It seems you’re quite multi-talented. What do you most identify yourself as; model, surfer, marine biologist, conservationist? Other?
That’s a really hard question to answer really. I guess I label myself primarily as a Marine Biologist, as that’s where my biggest passion lies.
How do you manage to fit it all in?
It’s a challenge, but I make the most of every opportunity, I have worked really hard to get where I am now, and I plan on continuing to learn, grow and move forward.
You’re currently riding for Reef. Tell us about their ‘Just Passing Through’ and ‘Reef Redemption’ programs.
Yes, Reef are an awesome and share similar passions to me. Just Passing Through is all to do with travel – surfing in different and unknown places, with equipment and items that are multi-functional and versatile. One of the main ideas behind the program is having respect for the people that live in the places we visit and to try to leave these places in a better condition to how we found it e.g. helping in local clean up efforts.
Reef Redemption involves using products that are environmentally friendly materials and sourcing artisans in developing countries around the world to produce the products you wear. Reef Redemption also gives every Reef employee paid time off to volunteer at a nob-profit organisation of their choice.
How old were you when you started surfing?
I first learnt to surf when I was 4 years old on Yorke Peninsula.
Give us a brief rundown on your surfing career to date…
After competing for almost ten years, I decided I wanted to go to University to do Marine Biology, I found it very difficult to find enough financial sponsorship and time to continue on the WQS and Pro Junior Series. I decided I would just continue to improve my free surfing. It currently fits in perfectly with what I am doing, and I am loving it!
Where do you see your surfing career taking you?
I see it continuing to evolve with the rest of my career. I plan on working actively in conservation projects and documenting what I find. I can guarantee that a lot of these places will have awesome waves and I’m really excited about surfing new, undiscovered areas. Surfing will always be an area of my life that makes me so happy, and I will always strive to improve and challenge myself. I’m lucky to have some awesome brands such as Reef, Misfit Shapes, and GoPro to support me.
You’re involved in an ocean awareness, action and conservationist project? How did this come about?
It’s always been a passion of mine. Millions of peoples lives revolve around the ocean (lifestyle, careers etc), yet they look past the issues that surround it. I decided when I was young that I was always going to be actively involved in ocean conservation. Since I was young I have volunteered at places like rescue shelters, marine mammal rescue organisations. I believe it’s important that we do our best to look after it, for the future.
Xavier mentioned you’re also involved in something to do with a shark boat. Tell us more…
Yes, I am currently working on Adventure Bay Charters in Port Lincoln, South Australia. I work as a crew member and marine biologist on the Great White boat (Shark Warrior), as well as the Sea Lion boat 2-3 days a week. One of the main things myself and our other marine researchers are trying to achieve at the moment is a ID database for the Great Whites we are seeing, to help gain a better idea of numbers of these sharks around the Neptune Islands.
And you’re not afraid of sharks?
I look at a shark like I look at any other animal. For some reason the word “shark” makes some people shake in their boots, which majority of the time is for stereotypical reasons. Within the last year I had more experience with many different species of sharks, and they are incredible animals. I have free dived with Bull Sharks, Bronze Whaler Sharks, Reef Sharks, Whale Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, and I have even seen a few Great White Sharks – they have all been very passive encounters. It’s like any animal, when the vibe is wrong and you feel like you are in a situation where you may be in danger, you have to keep be mindful of their space and keep your distance.
What has been your greatest ocean adventure?
I think definitely Vava’u off Tonga in the South Pacific, I travelled there in September this year to free dive and learn more about Humpback Whales. Spending so much time observing these animals in their natural environment, and how they communicate to each other was insane. It is something that I will always remember.
What has been your favourite dive?
I think my all time favourite dive was in Tonga, when I was free diving with a mother Humpback, its calf, and a male escort. The mother and calf were trying to swim away from the male, and I watched as the mother charged at the male to protect her calf. The male was singing so loudly that my entire body was shaking from the vibrations. It was the most incredible thing I have ever witnessed.
I’ve read you’re a vegan, how did this come to be?
Even from a young age I was never ever a fan of meat. When I was about 14 I started reading up on a lot of things to do with mass production of meat and dairy, clearing rainforests for meat production and grain production to feed the meat industry. I also watched a lot of documentaries and came to learn about the bigger picture of animal exploitation, not just in the food industry but fashion and entertainment as well. When I was 16 I made the decision to go fully vegan and I have never looked back. Ever since then i’ve been healthier than ever. I will always be happy to talk to people about plant based living because it what I rely on for all my energy and it’s something i’ll always be passionate about.
Describe your morning routine?
It depends what day it is. If I work on the shark or seal boats I start at 6 or 7am – they are big days. If not, I usually wake up and check the weather, wind and surf. Almost every day I swim out the front of my house, because waking up by swimming in the sea is the best way to wake up in the world.
Describe your dream Sunday?
Waking up at the beach or on the water, going for a swim or a surf, and spending the day diving with friends. And, eating lots of watermelon!
I am not decided yet. I will definitely be heading to Hawaii in late April or early May. But in between now and then probably somewhere locally here in SA, or maybe the Maldives in March?
Three things you can’t live without?
Bananas, the ccean and animals.
What’s next for Brinkley Davies?
Work hard and enjoy my time over here in Port Lincoln. I’m pulling together everything i’m learning and experiencing to share it on my blog.
I also plan to kick off the first projects for Keiko conservation, which is an organisation I founded with two friends who live in Hawaii. We will be launching a website soon with galleries, and information on how everyone can become involved to keep our oceans safe and healthy.
I also am looking forward to continuing to improve free diving and surfing in new places with all kinds of wildlife. Lots of adventure to come!