Ben Rose was a marine expert who dedicated his life to exploring the connection between people and nature. He was born in England on February 24th, 1941, to a family of eight. In 1946, his family moved to Hog Island, which is now known as Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas. Soon after, in 1953, the family moved to Grand Bahama, making them one of the first families to live in Freeport.
Since childhood, Ben had a deep connection with the marine world and would spend hours underwater observing marine life, big and small. In the early '60s, Ben furthered his passion for exploring the ocean by joining UNEXSO (Underwater Explorers Society), which was, at the time, a world-class diving empire based in Grand Bahama. Through his time at UNEXSO, Ben worked closely with sharks, changing the way humans interact with and perceive them. In the 80s-90s, he pioneered ethical shark-feeding techniques with Mike Stafford and Ollie Furgason and was also the first person to put a shark in a state of tonic immobility. Tonic immobility is when a shark is put into a trance-like state where the sensory pores on the nose are stimulated; this allows sharks to be safely handled and researched. Discovering this phenomena led Ben to be known as the first shark whisperer.
Ben was also the first person to dive and explore the Lucayan Caverns, one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. One of the entry points was later named Ben's Cave in honor of him being the first to explore it.
Ben became a key advocate in creating the Lucayan National Park in 1982. The Park protects the cave system and 40 acres of natural environments, including pine forests, mangroves, creeks, coral reefs, and beaches.
In 1992, Ben left UNEXSO but continued to advocate for wildlife protection. He taught marine life identification courses and would often use his artwork to create realistic diagrams to educate others on the natural world. He also was a tour guide at Kayak Adventures, where he and Ericka Gates gave tours through the mangroves to educate people on the importance and fragility of the ecosystem.
Ben was described as a kind, quiet, and knowledgeable person who had a way with animals. He spent hours underwater and was fascinated with the ocean's way of life. The community respected Ben immensely for his passion and dedication. He made it his life's mission to help people foster a personal relationship with nature and by doing so he impacted thousands of lives through his conservation and education efforts. He believed this philosophy would benefit not only the individual but society as a whole. Check out Ben’s Story in the documentary Ocean’s Rose