All I want for XMAS is a Healthy Ocean
I love the ocean. I am lucky enough to have spent my entire life within the ocean's reach. Addicted an early age I swam, bodysurfed, surfed, dived and sailed the ocean. Early on I became hooked on sharks, first because they are so cool and later because they are symbols of ocean health. Seeing a shark in its own world is like being transported to another time and place. One feels the primordial pull of Nature watching a sea turtle nest hatch, and tiny, perfectly formed sea turtles emerge and instinctively scramble to the sea.
Something feels right in the world when we are with wildness in the ocean. The eons splash over us and a future of hope resonates for me in the ocean. My good friend Dr. Wallace J Nichols has a new field of study combining neurology and the influence of the ocean, he calls the Blue Mind. Working with Neuroscientist Dr. Philippe Goldin from Stanford University they have established that we feel happier when we are near the ocean, and that calmness and happiness is infectious to those around us. It works for me.
Im happiest when I am at the ocean, studying and protecting ocean willdife and I want to share that love. Its nice to know that I can do that by just going to the ocean. In my new role as Director of mercury and sustainability and the Shark Stewards program at the Turtle Island Restoration Network, Im now working alongside ardent sea turtle conservationists. Having worked with J Nichols in Baja, and with Todd Steiner of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP) and Randall Arauz of PRETOMA tagging sea turtles in Cocos Island, I had already been indoctrinated into the turtle world. However, working alongside the Sea Turtle Restoration Project in a daily basis I have realized how turtles and sharks, so unlike as animals, have so much in common.
Both are consummately adapted to the ocean, having evolved in the sea for hundreds of millions of years.
Both are killed as a luxury food.
Both are lost in huge numbers as bycatch.
Both are losing habitat where they reproduce.
These enigmatic marine animals have made a significant impact on human cultures throughout history.
Both these groups of animals have been symbols of the earth, of fertility and power by indigenous peoples across the globe.
Over a hundred species of shark and all 7 species of sea turtles are threatened with extinction.
Both Sea Turtles and Sharks can be saved by applying simple solutions like altering fishing gear and making sustainable seafood choices.
Until humans entered the ocean as serious predators, the two orders of sea animals did remarkably well. In a short period, both groups have suffered badly, so badly that the Leatherback Sea Turtle and the Great White Shark have dwindled drastically and may go extinct in our lifetime. I want to give back the love the ocean has given me. I want future youth to experience a sea turtle or a shark as I did.
Humans need these animals to maintain ocean health and even the health of our race. Healthy oceans equals healthy humans, and to have ocean health we need all the components from plankton to whales. Lets all share the love the ocean gives to us and make the ocean a healthier place for wildlife and humans.
To help celebrate sharks and sea turtles in 2011, develop solutions join us at a Sea Turtles and Sharks event. We will celebrate our victories like passing AB 376 in California and the establishment of Critical Leatherback Habitat off our coastline. Adopting a shark from Sea Stewards, or a sea turtle nest will help us continue our work in policy and in the field.
Join us in developing solutions and help us protect all endangered wildlife from Sea Turtles to Sharks in 2012.