I met Alberto at the opening of his 2013 photography show Surfers DNA when he and his wife were still living in New York City. Fast forward 3 years and we’re still very good friends along with occasional surfing buddies when I’m in LA for work. Alberto understands the sea and the importance of highlighting it’s elegance in the effort to drive awareness around ocean issues. I feel super lucky every time I get to work with him on a project, on either coast.
In gearing up for Lonely Whale’s Urban Ocean Love Story this next Monday at Soho House—which will highlight efforts being taken to preserve and rebuild NYC’s waterways—I caught up with Alberto to discuss not only his unique ties to ocean conservation in his home country of Italy, but also to get the conversation flowing on what we can do to help ensure that our own favorite bodies of water remain safe and beautiful.
This is part one of four in the Lonely Whale Interview Series, brought to you by our sustainable seafood friends over at Norman’s Cay NYC.
Where are you originally from?
And where do you currently call home?
The answer to this question is: multiple [places]. In order: This particular universe right now (I like sci-fi and quantum physics). The world. The ocean. Los Angeles. My physical place right now is right at the border of Santa Monica and Venice.
Do you remember your first time falling in love with the water?
I honestly don’t. In Italy we are surrounded by water, and we spend the three summer months next to or in it. So probably when I was one or two years old. I remember snorkeling at eight years old and being in awe of the little fishes and the seahorses and this magical underwater world. I fell in love with windsurfing when I was twelve, and that was my final hook to water that still inspires my life nowadays with surfing and others.
Can you give us your favorite sea creature?
I remember seeing seahorses when I was snorkeling as a kid. I’d have to say that is probably one of my favorites. It deeply saddens me that I haven’t seen one in years. I recently met penguins with you and the Lonely Whale Foundation, and they are pretty nice. And I love seeing dolphins surfing.
Most memorable water-related movie you’ve ever watched?
This year’s View From a Blue Moon. Visually fantastic, but it’s a surf movie. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is probably my all time favorite.
Favorite beach you’ve had the pleasure of visiting?
Any beach with good waves.
East Coast or West Coast, and why?
I’ve lived on the East Coast for 15 years, and now on West Coast for two. Currently ruling for the west coast, and I wished I came here earlier—it is a nicer way of living when you don’t have to freeze if you want to surf or go for a motorcycle ride, or just be outside in February.
Was there a specific moment or interaction that originally attracted you to ocean conservation?
Since I was a kid, I read reviews of the state of pollution of the Mediterranean beaches. They come out every summer. I remember thinking why do we even have this? Shouldn’t they just be clean to start with? I saw photos of my grandfather as a kid and knew that they could swim in the river of Rome. How, in 50 years, can we not do that anymore? When I was windsurfing as a teenager around Rome, some beaches where scary to go in because of pollution and garbage on the beach. I don’t have a specific moment [that originally attracted me to ocean conservation], but all these things summed up at a certain point.
What has been your greatest inspiration in staying dedicated to your cause?
The people I meet, and the passion they have. Just seeing Adrian’s passion for it is inspiring, and so is yours and Dune’s, as well as everybody else I’ve met. Also the other different organizations, all their people, and how much they do—everybody involved in any way with the oceans, and with the environment in general, inspires me. I meet so many “regular” people, who are heroes, caring for what we have.
What is your biggest fear for the future for our oceans?
That we won’t be able to access them as we are doing now. Neither for the heath of this world, nor for our own health or food, nor for us to play or adventure in it. My biggest fear is a lifeless, unaccessible ocean.
One thing you believe everyone can + should be doing to help preserve our natural bodies of water?
Stop consuming obsessively. Reuse and be mindful of what happens with things after you’ve used them. Each of us is responsible for changing how we do things, right now. Don’t wait for others to create laws around it.