Underwater filmmaker, freediver, Aquaman’s doppelganger – Perrin James has made a life and career for himself traveling the world’s oceans and seas, capturing the beauty of the ocean and all its vibrant life. Follow along as Perrin joins us on our own travels through beach life and documents the marine world around us. Film produced in collaboration with Oceana.
You’re a renowned underwater filmmaker and photographer. How did you get your start in the water? Have you always felt a connection to the ocean?
I’ve always surrounded myself with water – even when I was 5 or 6. My dad would take me snorkeling and he always tells the same story of how I’d swim next to him, until one day I just swam off on my own searching for sharks or anything I could find in the reef. Those dive experiences at such a young age really stuck with me. I never thought I’d be able to do this as a career; I just wanted to share what I saw under water.
You’ve made your home on the big island in Hawaii. What’s the draw to island life for you? What are your favorite things about living there?
I moved to Hawaii almost 8 years ago with the idea that I would be able to spend more time diving and shooting film out here. As soon as I moved, it felt like people started to catch on to what I was doing and began hiring me. I’m constantly traveling and working in other locations around the world, but on the few days I do get to stay at home, I spend most of it down in the valleys of the big island surfing or diving. My favorite thing about Hawaii is the people. “Ohana” means family and that doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from originally.
You make a point of free-diving with your camera gear, holding your breath while you get your footage. Why is that important to you? Are there risks?
There are risks with any type of diving. Free-diving is only more dangerous if it is done incorrectly. Simple things like diving with a partner – someone you’d trust with your life – will remove most of the risks with blacking out or drowning. I only choose free-diving for most of my filming because of the way animals interact with you.
What’s the most incredible thing you’ve witnessed or experienced under water?
Orcas, hands down. Every time I get into the water with wild Orcas, my heart beats out of my chest. Narwhals are pretty cool, too.
Any favorite Chaco sandals? How do they help in your line of work?
The Playa Pro flips are my favorite right now. I’m a flip flop guy – or “slippah” if you’re in Hawaii. These are built tough, which matters because I tend to hike in my slippahs.
What’s next for Perrin James? Any cool projects coming down the pipe?
I have a handful of new films and projects I’m working on. Lots of coldwater ice-diving in the future, and hopefully spending some more time with the narwhals this year. This summer I’ll be heading back to Indonesia to make a follow-up film on an exploratory expedition to find new dive locations for “Project Hiu.” That’s [shark researcher] Madison Stewart’s project focused on creating new sources of income for commercial shark fisherman through ecotourism.
Chaco is proud to partner with Oceana to support their mission of protecting the world’s oceans. Through advocacy campaigns and expeditions in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch, Oceana is winning science-based policies that are rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans.