UNESCO Champion for Ocean and Youth

Brazils' big wave surfer

Maya Gabeira started surfing when she was just 13 years old in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ever since, her passion has been the Ocean.

“I love it. I love the freedom. I love the saltwater; it washes all my worries away; it’s my happy place,” Maya says. 

In 2020, Maya rode the biggest wave of her life – it was a world record, measuring 22 metres. Maya tells us, “It was a moment I’ll never forget – riding down that wave, the amount of speed, the noise that the wave made when it broke behind me – it was the most intimidating and scariest moment of my life. I survived it.

To this date, it was the most challenging ride and the most unforgettable moment that I’ve ever had.”

Our Ocean home

The ocean is Maya’s home. It is where she works, where she spends most of her time and it is where she faces the biggest challenges. “It’s a place we need to take care of, because it gives us life. It gives us food. It’s the home for so much life and biodiversity. We must protect it. And it is suffering now. It is suffering because of us, because of the way we live our lives,” she says.

“During my 15 years as a professional surfer, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the ocean, a lot more plastic, less life. It breaks my heart.” Maya Gabeira

The ocean is facing enormous challenges from loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction, overfishing and ocean acidification. “It’s something we must act on now. It’s a make it or break it kind of moment. And what we’re doing in the Ocean Decade will have long lasting consequences in our efforts to save the ocean,” Maya explains.

Everyday actions

Everyday actions help and Maya is conscious about the products she buys and what companies she supports.

As a UNESCO Champion of the Ocean and Youth means she leads by example and always learns more about how to restore and protect the ocean.

Maya tells us that, “If we all act for a healthy ocean, we can make massive changes. Just change everything you can in your daily life.

Be conscious, inform yourself and don’t buy from industry that is destroying our biggest treasure.”

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