Tyson Bottenus

Tyson Bottenus

An advocate for sustainable ocean use, Tyson Bottenus is a pragmatic and engaging changemaker within the boating community. Prior to joining Sailors for the Sea Tyson spent nine years teaching and coaching in the marine nonprofit sector and worked as an offshore Fisheries Observer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mr. Bottenus was the lead developer of Sailors for the Sea’s newest generation of Clean Regattas Best Practices, the only sustainability certification program for water based events in the world, and was a vital force on the Sustainability Committee for the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover.

He has written extensively for Marine Technology Reporter, Cruising World, Nautical Rhode Island and internationally in Mariner Brazil, among other publications in the marine and environmental field. A lifelong sailor and outdoorsman, Tyson is a certified Master Composter and holds a USCG 100-ton Master’s license; a unique blend of expertise that qualifies him to not only command vessels underway, but allows him to also expound on the importance of humus and healthy topsoil. 

What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
My earliest memories on the water are those I shared with my father, who was a recreational fisherman and lobsterman in Massachusetts. We spent countless hours when I was a child on the water in a 14 ft. dinghy catching striped bass and checking our pots to see what crawled in.

What is the biggest threat to preserving the ocean and local waters for future generations?
The biggest challenge we will face preserving the ocean in the coming years will be coming to grips with what New York Times journalist Andrew Revkin calls the “slow drip” problems of environmentalism. It will not be one large oil spill, for instance, that mucks up the ocean. It will be the repeated practice of topping off the fuel tank at the dock, for example, and accidentally letting a small slick appear which will cause the greatest environmental harm.

What was your "aha moment" that turned you into a conservationist?
I came to realize the impermanence of all phenomena when sailing by a series of atolls known as the Tuamotu Islands, in French Polynesia as a wet-behind-the-ears college kid with Sea Education Association. It struck me then that these low-lying islands would soon be swallowed up by sea level rise and the inhabitants of these islands - many of whom had been there for generations and generations - would be displaced, their knowledge and culture lost forever. “Fighting the tide”, and recognizing that it is by no means a frivolous pursuit, has been my life’s work.