Karim Benbouzyane - Chairman & CEO
Born in 1973, Karim is a Franco-Moroccan with a history linked to the land and the ocean.
With original roots from mountains of the French Jura and Moroccan Atlas, he has strong ties to the oceans, having spent his entire childhood in Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean coast.
Nature, the animal world and oceans have always rocked his life. And through his travels he has the opportunity to practice his passions of apnea, board sports, sailing, and underwater photography.
After higher studies in business, marketing and economic administration, Karim spent more than 17 years in the Paris region as a general manager of an IT company before moving to Dubai for new adventures in the business world.
A man in the shadows, he is a freediver who lives for expeditions; filming stunning images that capture the symbiotic relationship he shares with animals in the wild.
Affected by seeing how people treat the oceans and their inhabitants without measuring their impact and consequences, Karim decided to give another meaning to his life, to get closer to his true nature and to put his organizational management skills at the service of the preservation of our planet by creating the BlueOceanTrust Foundation.
Giving an additional dimension to his professional strengths, his passions and encounters have allowed him to develop an important knowledge of wildlife on the basis of personal field experiences and perpetual documentation; which today Karim wants to share, in order to make people understand the urgency and importance for humans to safeguard the oceans.
I have always preferred nature and the animal world. The simplicity and beauty of their "being," devoid of any vice and only dominated by instinct, force my respect and the need to scream for their distress.
Patrick Dykstra - President
BAFTA award winning cameraman Patrick was born in Denver, Colorado, USA.
He studied at Florida State University and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in communications. He also attended law school at New York University, where he graduated with a juris doctorate degree after serving on the school’s prestigious law review publication.
After years working for a prestigious Law Firm as a Lawyer, and running his owns real estate companies, he quit the race to pursue his dream of underwater photography.
Known for his willingness to take his camera into areas where others would prefer not to go, Patrick has captured fascinating images in Yemeni tribal areas, the heart of the Congo, Somaliland, and underneath Antarctic icebergs to name a few. And has become an expert at both underwater and aerial photography which allows him to capture images of wildlife and majestic creatures.
He recently finished filming for the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 and is now working with both National Geographic and the BBC on upcoming projects.
Patrick was at the forefront of the exploration and documentation of the blue whales of Sri Lanka and the killer whale migration to Iceland and Norway.
He is an avid skydiver, scuba diver, hang glider pilot, and caver, and possesses an enthusiastic willingness to explore and document any location.
Patrick has lived Australia, England, Italy, and several states across America. He is currently based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, although he typically spends about 300 days per year in the field.
Travelling all around the world having all these encounters with big marine animals change my life. It's unique and it's my duty to protect them and show people how they are so majestic and important for humanity.
Sheila Shadmand - Treasurer & Legal Director
Sheila decided to join the founding team of BlueOceanTrust Foundation to honor the memory of her partner, Dave Foster. Dave was a part of the very first discussions regarding the Foundation. He spent his life loving and working to protect the earth and its seas.
Sheila remembers the first time she dove with Dave in the deep sea, discovering a new world, realizing how vast and full of life, but also how fragile and vulnerable the natural seas really are.
Having encountered exotic marine life and beautiful animals, she started to love this unknown world and couldn't understand how we could be so selfish and blind, or how we could continue to ignore the devastation we are causing on our planet. It really bothered her to see the harmful effect human pollution was having on the oceans. And today, Sheila feels that she must seek to continue the good work that her partner Dave had begun.
In everyday life, Sheila is a well recognized and talented disputes partner in a top global law firm. For the past 20 years, she has lead litigation and arbitration matters, and conducted international investigations into money laundering, corruption, and sanctions allegations in over 30 countries.
Despite an extremely busy practice, Sheila spends her free moments travelling, discovering the world, and contributing in any way she can to make a difference. She uses her background, skills, and experience to support conservation efforts. Our earth is its oceans.
Dave loved the sea. He always lived by the sea and loved diving in the waters, feeling like he lived among the fish. And I, through this aquatic awakening with him by my side, began to love the sea in a very deep way, too.
Valérie Roussilhes - General Secretary
Is it already too late? Can a small group of individuals really make a difference? Can we reverse the ineluctable process of destruction humankind has initiated? Is the task too big? Are we too small in the face of adversity?
I do not have the answers to these questions but I have decided that I must try to do something. I must try to inspire others. I must devote my knowledge, my energy and my experience in trying to make an impact rather than questioning what can or cannot be done.
It is certainly never too late to try.
I am also convinced that a small group of committed and hard-working responsible citizens can change the world. It has always been so.
Now is the time for me to put all the expertise and knowledge I have gained as a senior corporate executive over the past 20+ years to the service of nature and our oceans.
Finance, compliance, negociation, communication, regulatory issues have been part of my daily operations in my role as Director of International Operations in one of the top US law firms.
These skills are not so different to those that could be used to defend and protect our oceans, and I am determined to put them to the best possible use to achieve this goal.
Because it's certainly never too late to try to help Oceans & marine life, It's time for me to add my skills to this huge challenge.
I can no longer stand by and watch this slow destruction.
Dave Foster - Honorary President (posthumous)
Dave was a global citizen strongly attached to ecology and biodiversity conservation.
He was a specialist and consultant helping companies, nonprofit organizations and governments to develop insightful solutions to social, sustainable and environmental challenges.
He has, roots deeply linked with Oceans, and wings which gave him opportunities to explore the world.
We can't believe he's gone now; but we are sure that his wings will help the Foundation's spirit to fly over the time, the world and continu to explore, in his honor.
Extract of Dave’s last Words
"Cremation. I would like the rest of my remains that have not been donated to be cremated and my ashes made available for as many family and friends as possible who want to mix them with soil or scatter them in nature.
I will appreciate my molecules being added back to nature as nutrients for further cycles of life. I would suggest adding my ashes to soil or water in favorite places they can see frequently or visit and think fondly of me, or in places they think I would appreciate being part of, like especially beautiful patches of nature or places with especially good views of such, or the ocean, river or stream, or a near or far-off place representing an adventure or new experience, which I have always loved in life."
"I want to be part of the cycle of life. Nutrients for the soil and the living things and the air and the swirling molecules of the world."
"If it makes more sense to bury or scatter me at sea, that would be fine. I do love the ocean and all the life I’ve loved seeing and touching through scuba diving and trips with whales and dolphins and everything else (Thank you, Patrick Dykstra!!) and it seems one of the easiest places to circulate nutrients around. I do worry about acidification and loss of reefs and life throughout the oceans. I’d be happy to contribute to the health of the reefs and the seas if my body can help.
Related, I wouldn’t mind some memorial or contributions to help those efforts to save the quality of life in the seas, which also helps quality of life all over the planet.
I don’t know the best organizations, but if I’m not available to decide, I’d feel confident leaving that to Patrick Dykstra and Karim Benbouzyane to pick what they think is best—maybe their own now-fledgeling organization ☺.
Maybe another they feel is most robust and promising.
Whatever they chose, I would support completely."
I want to be part of the cycle of life. Nutrients for the soil, the living things , the air and the swirling molecules of the world