Blue carbon focus for ocean-loving world champion - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

USC News

Blue carbon focus for ocean-loving world champion

24 Sep 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may have upset world champion stand-up paddleboarder Brianna Orams’ plans to compete in the sport’s 2020 Euro Tour – but the USC Environmental Science student refuses to see it as a setback.

Instead the 19-year-old is using her time in lockdown in New Zealand to develop a project which uses ocean-based sports as a platform for climate action and marine conservation.

Her Blue Carbon Project focuses on “blue carbon” environments – marine locations, such as mangroves and seagrass meadows, that absorb considerable amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“This project is really a fusion of my sport competing on the ocean and my USC Environmental Science studies,” said Brianna, who won a gold medal at her first world SUP championships in China last year.

“Sport can bridge the gap between science and local communities, and I think that is what sets this project apart,” she said.

“There is a huge population of outdoor-loving enthusiasts like me who really care about the places we compete at and enjoy for recreation, so why not use this to our advantage to promote the restoration of blue carbon environments as a pathway to a sustainable future.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Brianna was in Bangkok completing an internship as part of her USC studies and training to compete in the 2020 SUP Euro Tour from April to July. She quickly returned to stay with family in New Zealand, and into lockdown.

“Blue Carbon Project was an idea in the back of my mind for a while, so with the huge movement in lockdown around exploring inner passions that you previously haven’t had time to pursue, I was inspired to launch my first environmental project,” she said.

“The water sports community spends countless hours out on the ocean and sees first-hand the impact of issues such as plastic pollution, climate change and decreasing species abundance.

“Imagine the environmental benefits if every outdoor enthusiast lent a hand to plant a tree and restore blue carbon environments.

“Although these environments may cover a small portion of our planet compared to some of the large rainforests such as the Amazon, they sequester carbon dioxide at a much faster rate, while providing us with the oxygen we breathe.”

Brianna is a member of USC’s High Performance Student Athlete (HPSA) program and said the scheme was a massive support as she juggled online studies and an interrupted training schedule from “across the ditch”.

“The HPSA program offers me so many opportunities and without it, I don’t believe I would be where I am today,” she said.

Under the guidance of USC Sports Clinic Assistant Aaron Turner, Brianna is currently focusing on cross-training to avoid overuse injuries and maintain intensity without having races to break up her training blocks.

“I refuse to see the pandemic as a setback,” she said. “I didn’t feel prepared going into Euro Tour 2020 and needed time to knuckle down to learn how to properly train. COVID has given me that opportunity.

“As well as trying to suck it up and brave the cold Auckland weather and get out on the water a few times a week, I am also working to transform Blue Carbon Project into a reality.

“It’s a steep learning curve. I’ve had little experience with starting not-for-profits, let alone creating logos, websites and getting funding, but I love to learn and love a good challenge.”

At her first event, ‘Blue Explore’, over 50 people paddled in the middle of winter and planted 500 native grasses to help prevent coastal erosion and stabilise dunes at Long Bay-Okura marine reserve.

“I’m not sure where this will all lead, but I plan to work with events in New Zealand and Australia to help them focus on climate positivity, develop a community of citizen scientists, and carry out expeditions to benefit scientific research in blue carbon environment.”

Related programs

Related articles

Quick-thinking students find cancer support solution
25 Jun

Two USC Occupational Therapy students have refused to let the coronavirus pandemic derail their final university placement by quickly creating an online alternative to assist people with cancer stay connected and active in self-isolation.

New USC graduate on the ball with career decision
21 May

James Harbidge certainly had 20/20 vision when he deferred his seventh year of refereeing with Queensland Rugby League for his first graduate job on the opposite side of the country.

USC Sports Clinic Assistant Aaron Turner runs a Zoom training session.
Student athletes stay ahead of the game during lockdowns
13 May

Student athletes at USC are benefitting greatly from the forward thinking and creativity of the University’s Sports Clinic Assistant Aaron Turner during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact the USC media team

Name Position Email Phone
Terry Walsh Manager, Media and Messaging +61 7 5430 1160
Janelle Kirkland Media Relations Coordinator +61 7 5459 4553
Clare McKay Media Relations Officer (Regional) +61 7 5456 5669

Search results for

Recent news