International Speaker, Project Manager
Jean Marie’s story is an inspirational tale of what happens when we face our fears. Throughout his life, the Belgian artist was afraid of the water, and of sharks in particular. For over twenty years, he pursued a successful business career, notably as co-founder and COO of a firm specialized in environmental technologies, during which he supervised a group of 400 engineers. Then in 2009, in his early-fifties, he decided to confront his phobias, and he learned to dive. This courage lead him to unexpected success, and he soon became known as « a shark whisperer ».
He seeks to raise awareness of the many threats that our activity poses to sharks and other marine species, and to fight against human misconceptions. Through his work, he seeks to safeguard these species and conserve their ocean habitats.
Ghislain’s photographs were published in numerous books and he soon caught the attention of the international media. His love for nature and his respect for sharks are captured in minimalist yet evocative photographs that seem to radiate a transcendent calm. The artist portrays various shark species in gentle, atmospheric, black and white images, and shows us these predators as we have never seen them before. We are given a new, tender perspective on these supposed monsters, these subjects of our collective fears. This new career also brought him a renewed sense of purpose and inner peace.
He realized that behind his biggest fear lay hidden his greatest passion and that it’s never too late to open yourself up and find your true calling.
AIDA International FreeDive Instructor, Author, International Speaker, Underwater Videographer
Born in Tokyo in 1985 and raised in Paris, France, Leina spends the better part of her childhood in an urban environment. A severe depression transforms her life at the age of fifteen, opening her mind and spirit to expanded horizons. Following her meeting with a spiritual teacher, she moves to the Big Island of Hawaii. There, she meets a community of Water people, who initiate her to free-diving both as a sport and as a meditative practice. As she encounters dolphins and whales in the wild, she develops a deep fascination for inter-species communication and begins to research ways to build bridges of understanding between Man and Cetacea.
At the age of 21, she puts on hold her studies in Marine Science and creates a small- scale eco-tour company with Brett Lemaster (former free-dive world record holder) for visitors, artists and researchers to connect with marine animals in the wild. After four years of activity, Leina feels the necessity to return to her « earthly » roots, compelled by an inner voice to share the lessons of « interbeingness » she integrated in the Ocean. Today, Leina holds conferences and workshops on her inner and outer experiences of the living Sea and teaches free diving as an AIDA instructor (International Association for the Development of Apnea). Her approach is focused on the therapeutic and initiatory aspect of free-diving and inter-species encounters.
« Man has an aquatic nature; in the same way the primordial Ocean gave birth to life on our planet, our human incarnation also begins in the ocean of the maternal womb. Free-diving allows us to reconnect with this living matrix and a deep sense of communion with the world. »
Jean-Marie and Leina have realized several projects together
« L’enfant de l’Océan » published by « Les Arènes » - authored by Leina and illustrated with Jean-Marie’s photographs. The book chronicles Leina’s pregnancy amidst wild dolphins and whales. A documentary film « The Journey » directed by Anne Paris and Jan Kounen was also realized on this adventure, depicting the couple’s desire to share their love of the Sea with their future child and explore the emergent field of inter-species communication (i.e. the capacity of odontocetes to communicate with a human fœtus by use of their sonar.)