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Julie Church: Creating Blue Planet Consciousness in Kenya

Julie Church CEO and founder of Seas4Life and advisor for the Pelorus Foundation, speaks to us about marine conservation in the blue wilderness and creating ocean stewardship in Kenya.  

“On a mission to create a blue planet consciousness through experiential conservation travel at sea, on our waterways, and in the wilderness

– Julie Church

Background and Ocean Sole

Julie Church is a fourth-generation Kenyan, an avid swimmer, diver, and passionate about ocean conservation. Through the WWF conservation fund and project development, she coordinated the set up of the first Kenyan Marine Protected Area, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, a chain of 50 offshore islands in the enchanted Lamu Archipelago. Noticing the number of discarded shoes on local beaches and seeing the toys Kenyan children would make from them, Julie then went on to found the social enterprise, Ocean Sole.

“To give back to our oceans and to give back what we earn to change the lives of many – through employment education and meals

This initiative recycles abandoned flip flops into brightly coloured products, encouraging women to collect flip flops from beaches and manufacture products to be sold at local markets. From the sales, 10-15% of the revenue generated goes to beach clean-ups, vocational and educational programmes as well as conservation efforts. As of 2017, half a million flip flops were recycled and employees have been able to use their income to pay for their child’s education and buy land from Ocean Sole’s investment in a welfare programme.


Safaris and terrestrial conservation are popular in Kenya, but Julie noticed a disconnect between the local communities and the marine environment. This encouraged her idea of designing the sea safaris concept. “You wouldn’t go to the Maasai Mara to sit by the pool so why should you do the same for the marine environment,” explained Julie.

Having grown up in a family familiar with the safari business, Julie modelled her immersive sea safaris on the traditional land safari, creating bespoke expeditions. This unique experience is tailored for travellers by utilising multiple guides, sharing their local knowledge and weaving along Kenyan waterways to the ocean.

Julie’s ultimate goal is to enhance a better understanding of Kenya’s under-explored waterways and leave travellers with a more compassionate view of the world’s greatest carbon sink, building a new relationship between humans and ocean’s creatures.

Seas4Life Trust

In keeping with the Seas4Life vision of creating blue planet consciousness, sustainability, and positively impacting the oceans, the Seas4Life Trust is the charitable arm and highly dependent on the business’ success. The trust focuses on three paramount initiatives facing our oceans today: marine pollution, marine conservation and building a blue economy. In partnership with Oceans Alive, the trust aims to create a ‘Blue Wall’, a series of 17 legally endorsed connected areas (MPAs), managed by locals to increase the protection of Kenyan waters. Currently less than 10% are under protection and compliance is extremely lacking.

“A world that understands and appreciates the value of oceans, waterways and wilderness by creating a blue planet consciousness for wiser life choices and purposeful, fun living

Through the trust, Julie aims to support sustainable business models and encourage the responsible use of the ocean’s resources whilst at the same time promoting healthy ecosystems. Each individual initiative tying in with her Blue Planet vision.

Seas4Life and the Pelorus Foundation 

The Pelorus Foundation has partnered with Seas4Life through the Sea Check concept. The innovative project aims to form a baseline to determine a healthy ecosystem, to monitor anthropogenic impacts, and make science-based management decisions the key to preserving these vital habitats. This research will be a combination of systematic surveying, collaboration with academic institutions, and address under-exploration of Sudanese and Eritrean waters.

Data analysis will bridge the knowledge gap and partnerships between the Pelorus Foundation, Seas4Life and CORDIO will spearhead the establishment of a standard for healthy ecosystems, cultivating awareness of these habitats.