Like many Gulf Coast people, I too had a loved one working on an oil rig the day the Deepwater Horizon exploded. In his first job with the oil industry, my stepdad was working IT on a rig. My mom and I had been glad he got the job as he had been laid off during the recession, but that day I was frantic. Stuck on an airplane when I heard the news, I wracked my brain: What rig was he on? Was he okay? It was two, painful hours before we landed, and I could finally call my mom.
Luckily, my stepdad was safe. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But that day in 2010, I’m sure tens of thousands of families went through the same worry, wondering if their loved ones were safe.
With far less attention than she garnered at the start of her journey, Crystal Serenity sailed into New York City on September 16, 2016, becoming the first cruise ship of her size to complete the journey through the Northwest Passage.
For us at Ocean Conservancy, the success of this expensive pleasure cruise is yet another symbol of a changing Arctic. The science is clear: global climate change is hitting this fragile region faster and more furiously than perhaps any other place on the planet.
The precipitous decline of seasonal sea ice is a clear example. In an announcement that came less than 24-hours before Crystal Serenity reached herfinal port, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean dropped to the second lowest level on record during the summer of 2016.
It was a grey and rainy day, the seas were choppy and I had my seasick medicine at the ready.
“Hope you ladies are in for a bumpy ride” shouted the captain of the small vessel that would be our next mode of transportation. “We might only make it halfway out before we need to turn around, it’s rough out there today!”
A year ago, President Obama became the first sitting US President to visit the Arctic.
He stood on the banks of Bristol Bay with a freshly caught salmon in hand, joined schoolchildren in a traditional Yup’ik dance, and stood at the toe of the rapidly shrinking Exit Glacier. He experienced awe-inspiring Alaska with its rich cultures and traditions that depend on a healthy, thriving environment. He also saw the effects of climate change firsthand from the ecological impacts of a receding glacier to a village forced to relocate because of severe coastal erosion.
After that trip President Obama said, “What’s happening in Alaska is happening to us…it’s our wakeup call.”
Keila reached out to Ocean Conservancy concerned about the pollution plaguing our ocean and eager to make a difference. Growing up alongside the Pacific Ocean, she developed a deep respect for the ocean and its inhabitants from an early age and considers it as part of her home. After learning more about the problem of ocean trash in one of her classes, she decided to take action. This summer, she delivered cookies and talked with friends and family to bring awareness to the issue while raising money for Ocean Conservancy. Keila also participated in the 31st annual International Coastal Cleanup on September 17th at her local beach in California. I had the privilege to talk to Keila about why she loves the ocean and what drove her to do this work.
Sea turtles have a strong sense of place—when it’s time to nest, they return to the same beach where they hatched decades before. Many residents of the Gulf Coast share that same sense of place (my own family has lived in Louisiana for more than ten generations!)
That’s why sea turtles are a great mascot for the Gulf Coast. It’s also why Ocean Conservancy’s new video outlining a vision for a healthy Gulf is told from the perspective of a loggerhead sea turtle. In honor of the star of our video, here are five things that sea turtles need to survive and thrive.
Last week, Ocean Conservancy brought the ocean into the Senate.
You can imagine my confusion when I was asked to help.
It made sense once I learned Ocean Conservancy and the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab were teaming up to bring the issue of ocean acidification to the Capitol. We would use virtual reality–as in that over-the-face simulation technology you keep hearing about—to submerge Senators and staffers underwater. If policy makers couldn’t get to the ocean, we would bring the ocean to Washington D.C., in hopes of leveraging virtual reality’s immersive nature to inspire much-needed change for our ocean.