Vancouver Island scuba diver turns discarded buoys into oceanic art

Although Tiare grew up on a commercial fishing boat, she was more interested in joining the animals under the sea than catching them.

"For me it was like travelling to another world," she smiles.

Tiare started scuba diving at 12, before becoming a professional guide from Alaska to Mexico.

Now, she captures photos and video of the creatures she meets, including the giant Pacific octopus.

"Some will come right out and put their arms on your face and taste you," she says, before showing me footage of one of the many octopuses she’s spent time with.

"It’s always an incredible experience to meet such a fascinating, intelligent, beautiful creature."

But Tiare says her favourite moments are simply experiencing the serenity of the Pacific’s bull kelp forests. Although, that’s become increasingly jarring.

"Sometimes you find marine life tangled in plastic bags or bits of line," she says of the litter she’s found in the ocean. "It’s distressing."

Although Tiare earned a Masters in marine management, and was always focused on science, one day she felt compelled to cope with her concerns through art.

"I can’t paint on straws, I can’t paint on microplastics, I can’t paint on plastic bags,” she begins explaining.

But Tiare found she could turn discarded buoys into unconventional canvases, and started transforming waste into wonder.

"You go with your brush strokes," she says, painting flowing bull kelp on a turquoise buoy. "It feels like going with the current and floating through this liquid environment."

Tiare says the final product, which she showcases on Instagram @tiarebouys and on her website, is a celebration of a beauty that surrounds us, yet so few actually see.

"I’ve been surprised that I can capture the things I see underwater," she smiles.

And using the markings on the buoys, Taire’s also discovered how to track their origins around the world. She includes the information with her artwork as a reminder that what we do in one place affects others elsewhere.

"I might not be changing the world on a large scale," Tiare says. "But this is my way of turning my small corner of the world into a better place."

A step towards a better place for those towering bull kelp neighbourhoods inhabited by Tiare’s giant octopus friends.