Ailars David is a marine scientist and a certified scuba diver who not only explores the depths of our oceans but has also dedicated his professional life to their preservation. Currently serving as a Marine Conservation Warden at Mafia Island and Marine Parks under Marine Parks and Reserves Tanzania, Ailars is at the forefront of safeguarding the ecosystems within it. His role extends beyond the shores, as he assumes the vital positions of Hub Leader and Co-founder of the Tanzania hub of the international NGO Sustainable Ocean Alliance. 

Ailars is not just a practitioner; he is a catalyst for change. His influence extends to the academic sphere, where he proudly serves as the Tanzania Country Coordinator for the Western Indian Ocean Early Career Scientist Network. Through this role, he fosters collaboration and empowers the next generation of scientists dedicated to the well-being of our oceans. Passionate about empowering youth and local communities, Ailars envisions a world where every individual is an active participant in the restoration and sustainability of our oceans. His commitment is not just professional; it is personal, a dedication to ensuring a thriving ocean for generations to come.

Ailars at COP.

Can you trace the origins of your interest in conservation and what led to your current work?

My conservation work started way back in 2017 when I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in Aquatic Sciences and Aquaculture from the University of Dodoma, Tanzania. I got to understand the current condition of our oceans as well as its importance to life below water and to our communities.

From there, I dedicated myself to restoring the health and sustainability of our ocean for future generations. 

I love the saying, “We didn’t inherit this planet from our ancestors, rather we borrowed it from our children.” After realising how badly the ocean has been damaged, and understanding it as a key part of our lives, I am dedicated to restoring the oceans and conserving it.

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

I like working within a structure. I recognize the ocean is big, so even small accomplishments count. So, my day routine includes setting out goals for the day and looking at reaching milestones, then doing field work. Field work, for me, can mean patrolling the ocean, monitoring, or restoration or community awareness.

Sometimes my work day can also be just report writing and planning. I love science communication, though I’m trying to improve my skills in that area. If I have free time, I post something on my social media about the day’s work to inspire others. I also like to use my free time during the day to go swimming, snorkelling, or just walking by the beach to stretch my legs a bit.

A work day in Ailars David’s life.

What is your favourite and least favourite aspect about your role?

My favourite part of what I do is that I help people connect and live sustainably with the ocean. 

Enforcing conservation laws and regulations is my least favourite part in my role, I like to train and build a community which willingly follows the laws and regulations made on ocean conservation. 

As a conservationist, what makes you hopeful about the future?

Youth! I believe youth have the power to make the world a better place if we are given the opportunity and resources to protect our planet, which is our future.

What helps you stay positive day-to-day?

I look through my posts on social media or photos on my phone and remind myself of the small achievements and positive memories. Either that, or I go for a swim or a walk on the beach. Sometimes I talk to someone who I know can help me stay positive during the day. 

Could you share a story about a formative moment in your conservation career?

Ever since I became a marine scientist, I always dreamed of learning to scuba dive.

Scuba diving lessons cost no less than $500, which was something I definitely couldn’t afford. Neither could my parents, friends and relatives.

I had applied to 5 places which offered free scuba diving lessons, but all of them came back with a rejection.

In 2022, I started working for the government of Tanzania as a Marine Conservation Warden at Mafia Island and Marine Parks where I received my scuba diving training through the organisation Plongeurs du Monde.

It requires belief, perseverance, consistency, passion and boldness to believe that despite all these No’s one day I will get a big ‘Yes’

Any advice for someone interested in pursuing your field of work?

I would say, be ready to learn and connect. Focus on your passion. Be bold, courageous, and trustworthy. Let your work speak more than your words.