All images by Cam Grant Photography.
Kayleigh is a conservationist and freediver who works as a safety diver on One Ocean Diving, changing peoples' perceptions about sharks everyday.
T: If you were given the option to live permanently in the sea, would you take it?
KB: So selfishly I would love to say yes, that I would live in the sea just me and my love for the rest of our days. I can’t dream of a better way to learn the secrets of the deep than to explore it forever. My moments spent in the ocean are the most cherished, mind blowing, euphoric moments of my life. But again, it would be selfish of me to stay at sea because the important work and real change comes from those who are on land fighting to protect and preserve the ocean. I love the work that I am so blessed to do at One Ocean Diving, in which I can change the publics perceptions about sharks on a daily basis. This is what makes the conservation work of One Ocean Diving, Keiko Conservation, Sea Shepard, Nakawe Project and all the other organizations all over the world so imperative.
T: We like to say the Thessalonike style is a bit between Bond Girl and mermaid. I can probably guess this from your IG name (@mermaid_kayleigh) but which do you relate to more?
KB: I definitely have to say mermaid. Ever since I was a little girl I was so fascinated by the ability to be half human half fish and can breathe underwater. I also think mermaids are severely underrated! The first accounts of mermaids came from Ancient Greek mythology as sirens of the deep sea, half captivatingly beautiful woman, half fish. These sea goddess songstresses would roam the open oceans luring lonely sailors to their deaths with their enchanting melodies. Throughout history mermaids have been associated with shipwrecks, drownings, floods and other perilous events. So the next time you think “cute, innocent, Disney” mermaid, don't forget the siren that lies within. ;)
T: Name something you've checked off your bucket list and another you can't wait to check off soon.
KB: I was recently lucky enough to have explored some cenotes in Mexico which are crystal clear, fresh water, underground cave systems. For me, this was an achievement as a diver to be able to accomplish a new form of diving by entering dark caverns and navigating using only my lantern and a line leading the way. It may sound easy, but it is not for the claustrophobic or those afraid of the dark. It was also amazing to experience the sharp rays of crystal blue light cutting through the water with the openings in the ceiling, stalagmites and stalactites that lined the walls, and the otherworldly bat caves. Travel dominates my bucket list. There will always be the next destination to explore.
T: What does the sea mean to you and your life?
KB: It’s interesting because to work in the ocean is my job and means of living. But more than that it is also my place of sanctuary. When you’re on land your mind is always racing and moving but when you’re in the water your mind is flooded with peace and calm. You have to be present and in the moment at all times because the ocean also commands respect and is very powerful. Most of the best moments of my life have taken place in the ocean, so it also provides me with a sense of home. It’s my happy place.
T: Sirens or selkies?
KB: Sirens. Hands down. Us ladies all have the ability to captivate people in our own way just like a siren. It’s all about harnessing what makes us unique, inspired, and passionate.
T: What are your three favorite Thessalonike items?
KB: I must say the Nikki ring. As someone who has spent time with this tiger shark, Nikki is the queen of sharks and commands respect all the while being gorgeous and graceful. Any travel ring to any destination. And my newest love is the vesper choker!
T: What's your main advice to others interested in making their day to day lives more eco-friendly and safer for the ocean?
KB: Plastic is a disease spreading over our entire planet. Finding any and all ways that you can reduce your use of single use plastic will have a huge effect on our oceans and the planet as a whole. Saying no to a straw in a restaurant, using a hydroflask or other reusable bottle instead of buying single use water bottles, carrying a reusable bag instead of using a plastic, or bringing your own tupperwear for take-out items is a great place to start.
SHOP KAYLEIGH'S FAVORITE ITEMS