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.
I wasn’t really awake until our all-terrain vehicle bumped its way to the beaches of the Alabama Gulf coast. I held on tight in the dark and wondered whether this adventure had been such a good idea after all.
Then a pop of orange and red burst across the Gulf of Mexico. All that had been asleep was now vivid and busy. Sea gulls and terns swooped above the waves scanning for breakfast. A pod of dolphins broke the surface offshore. Salty fishermen appeared as the mist lifted, persistent, patient. I remember being on the beach early each morning during the BP oil disaster. Even through all the chaos the mornings were always magical as the sun rose over the Gulf. Six years later it is reassuring to see so much is well, but we know that there is still work ahead to restore this environment to its natural state. As I took in all these sights, I reminded myself: I’m here to do a job.
“The ocean is a major part of my life, all our lives.” – Representative Lois Capps
Today, Congresswoman Lois Capps of the 24th District visited Ocean Conservancy, to speak not only on her legacy in Congress, but also her incredible contribution to our ocean.
Like me, Representative Capps is a Cali girl. Although born in the Midwest, she spent fifty years living in Santa Barbara as a nurse, educator and congresswoman, elected to first represent the Central Coast in 1998. In fact, Representative Capps spoke about enrolling her children in the Junior Lifeguard program–the same program I did growing up, the one that formed my love for the ocean!
Representative Capps demonstrates a dedication to marine conservation like no other, including advocating for marine protected areas, marine life and environmental education. She supported the expansion of coastal and marine monuments off the California coast, prevented offshore drilling and is a leader on the issue of ocean acidification. She’s even co-sponsored a long list of legislation, including acts protecting sea turtles, sharks and sea otters. And who doesn’t love sea otters?
An interest in the natural world can spring from unlikely places. For Eddie Love, a recent college graduate and current RAY Fellow at Ocean Conservancy, a love for the fastest land animal in the world inspired his decision to launch a career in conservation.
“I had an affinity for cheetahs at a very young age. I found myself watching Animal Planet instead of cartoons,” Eddie says. “I always wanted to be as fast as them. I play tennis so I try to channel my inner cheetah and get to every ball. They’ve always been sort of an underdog in the cat world. That’s how I felt growing up. I was small, so they motivated me to be better.”
What happens when feisty, tough Dungeness crabs meet an even tougher bunch of fishermen? We’ll find out this fall in Discovery Channel’s new series, Dungeon Cove. The show highlights how the Newport, Oregon Dungeness crab fleet and the local community handle the dangers, victories and worries of the fishing season.
It’s clear that Dungeness fishing isn’t for the weak. Not only are the crabs often hard to find, hiding cleverly from fishermen or avoiding cunningly placed traps, but the working conditions are also dangerous. Simply exiting the Newport harbor is difficult at times, when wind and sea state cause waves to pile up and challenge the best helmsmen. Family members on land worry about their seagoing loved ones every day. Layer physical danger on top of economic concerns—many Dungeness fishermen are owner-operators, or essentially small business owners—and you have one tough job.
Thank YOU! This weekend, we wrapped up another spectacular International Coastal Cleanup. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and supporters who came out to make a difference for our ocean.
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out all over the world to clean up their local beaches and waterways.
Thank you again to everyone who participated in the International Coastal Cleanup. I am so grateful to have allies like you joining me in the fight against marine debris. While beach cleanups alone can’t solve the ocean trash problem, they are an integral piece to the overall solution.
Today, the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean hit the second lowest minimum on record during the summer of 2016.
This is why:
Sea ice is the foundation of the Arctic ecosystem. Wildlife like the iconic polar bear depends on sea ice to hunt prey such as ringed seals, forage and breed. As their sea ice habitat continues to diminish, it is estimated that by 2050, global polar bear populations will decrease by 30%.
Sea ice is tied to indigenous culture and the subsistence way of life. The Arctic is home to indigenous communities that depend on a healthy marine environment to survive. As sea ice diminishes, many communities are being forced to travel much further to hunt, and face new challenges like more frequent, more severe storms.