Asha De Vos at number 23 on BBC 100 Women 2018

Asha De Vos at number 23 on BBC 100 Women 2018

Source: Pulse

The BBC 100 Women is a multi-format series that was established in 2013. This series examines and highlights the role of women in the 21st century, and our very own Asha De Vos has landed at no. 23!

BBC 100 Women

Asha De Vos is the founder of Oceanswell, Sri Lanka’s first Marine Conservation Research and Education Organization, whose mission is to change the trajectory for the world’s oceans by educating the next generation of diverse ocean heroes, equipping students from underrepresented nations to conduct marine conservation research, and engaging everybody in conversations about the magic of our world’s oceans. Oceanswell envisions a world where all people recognize the integral role that oceans play in our planet and are equipped to work towards its preservation.

De Vos is the first Sri Lankan to have a Ph.D in Marine Mammal Research, the first Pew Fellow in Marine Conversation and the first National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She has dedicated her life to changing the current marine conversation model to protect the unique population of blue whales and inspire the future generations to come.

Asha also runs The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project, the first long term project on blue whales in the Northern Indian Ocean that has been showcased on BBC, The New York Times, TED, National Geographic, CNN, GOOD and New Scientist.

Asha de Vos has made Sri Lanka proud time after time, and is the committed and passionate advocate for marine life that our country desperately needs for the future. You can check out an exclusive interview with her in the July/August issue of the Pulse magazine!

PS. Asha is an old girl of Ladies College and daughter of an Old Thomian and renowned Architect Ashley de Vos


Dr. Asha de Vos: Compassion backed by Science

byEsteem Magazine

Dr. Asha de Vos

I don’t have a lot of time in my life, and I am interested in people who are interesting – she quipped, and so started a 2-hour conversation with Dr. Asha de Vos over biriyani at Taj Samudra. An old girl of Ladies College, I’ve known Asha when she studied at Colombo International School; regarded as somewhat of a tomboy, she was very comfortable in the pool as opposed to walking on dry land. But that’s not really true; she is also part of a running community today that she is very enthusiastic about. With so many accomplishments under her belt, one wonders how she manages to do ALL of it. As she says quite convincingly – I run on Asha energy.

Asha energy

Genuinely in love with life, she is fascinated with the possibilities that are present. A lover of sports, she wakes up every day in the early morning to start her morning run. It’s all about creating stories that are valuable. But here is a side to Asha that even I did not know up to date: she is very family oriented, and it is her upbringing that has led her to be very humanistic and empathetic. Made to be self-sufficient and independent from a young age, she and her brother would help around the house. There was no sense of elitist pride found in her despite the typical associations that are made when it comes to the schools that she attended, or the fact that her father is a famous architect who was responsible for restoring the Galle Fort.

love with life

Truly global in terms of representation, she has a multicultural mix with her father being a Burgher Christian and mother being Indian and Muslim. It was deeply ingrained in her that she and her fellow sibling should always stand on their own feet. This was quite a progressive and liberal standpoint since we are talking about South Asian parents here. It is probably because of this type of liberal upbringing that helped Asha be Asha and go against the grain. As she states – Nothing should stop you from being you, and you really can’t be anyone else.

Truly global in terms

I cherished the fact on how she traversed a long winding road when it came to her belief systems. Forever the optimist, she really does believe in making a change. Someone has to care about the oceans and it is passion and persistence that has helped her share her views with everyone else she comes across. While the unknown is something that is truly frightening in a sense, this is something that excites her. While 95% of the ocean sits undiscovered, she believes being curious and knowing as much as she can about this vast paradise is imperative to save life in all its forms. After all, if there are no oceans, there will be no life at all.

exposure to life

It is exposure to life and various experiences that creates passion in the first instance, and it was the consumption of a great deal of literature from National Geographic that led her to be curious and want to become a marine biologist. You have to do what you want to do, she tells me between mouthfuls of curry. Life is temporary and one shouldn’t have any regrets on one’s deathbed. So what exactly is her goal? It is simply to be relatable and to engage the younger generation into saving one of the largest treasures in this world, which is the ocean.

Failure is a good tool, she nods; there is no positive change if one does not try and take risks. This I know is true when one plots her life. I remember how when we were both in school, you had to slip into one of three careers: you could be a lawyer, doctor or engineer, and nothing else was acceptable. If she didn’t take this leap albeit with a great deal of risk, she wouldn’t be able to be so involved in conservation and direct people’s consciousness towards the plight of the oceans and its marine life. So has her journey been rewarding? Indeed it has; there are so many calls coming her way where the younger generation have shown a great deal of interest in being a marine biologist.

exposure to life

What is disheartening is the fact that there are so many species that are going extinct – we are writing too many obituaries, she says – and it is up to the general public to be ocean heroes and help reverse the damage that has been dealt to nature. As dinner came to a close, she threw out a question: What happens if the solution to all the ocean’s problems are trapped in the mind of a student here in Sri Lanka? What an exciting thought that was, and it really did showcase why Asha is doing what she does – it is simply to spread compassion backed by the truth of science.



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