For forty years, I have worked as a bayman in New York’s rich waters. You could find me bullraking hard clams, sail dredging oysters, dredging bay scallops and potting lobster. I have earned a living from these waters my whole life. Declines—and the occasional full crash—in shellfish stocks, however, have forced me to look at other occupations.
The film crew records an exciting moment on the Miss Britt II.
Last week, two filmmakers and I went to South Florida to document how ocean acidification can touch communities, like Miami’s, that don’t depend heavily on shellfish harvests. Known for its marine life, beaches, coral reefs and sunny weather, Miami and much of Florida rely on these natural assets to drive the local fishing and tourist industry. Coral reefs are the key link, because they provide habitat for vast numbers of fish—including many of the sport fish that make Florida’s charter fishing industry a must-visit for thousands of tourists each year.
You may have heard coral reefs called “the rainforests of the sea,” but did you know they could also be called the “speed bumps of the ocean?” Not only do coral reefs host an estimated 25% of ocean species, but they also slow down and shrink waves that approach land. This keeps hundreds of millions of people safe and dry around the world. At the same time, coral reefs also offer these coastal dwellers many opportunities—for nutrition, their livelihoods and income based on coral reef-area fishing or tourism.
“We the People of the United States, in order to form more perfect protection of our ocean…”
Let’s take a break from election coverage and come together as one nation in love with the ocean.
Regardless of our politics, we can all agree that the ocean is important. From sea to shining sea, we depend on the ocean for our food supply, the air we breathe, our economy and our ability to protect our shores against storms. That’s why I’m asking you to show your ocean pride and vote for the future of the ocean today.
What do eelgrass, the California state legislature, crabbers, and Ocean Conservancy have in common? They are all part of the solution in California’s remarkable actions this past week to address the threats that ocean acidification presents to California’s healthy fisheries, marine habitat and coastal jobs.
Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law a pair of bills that will address the concerns over ocean acidification raised by oyster growers, crabbers and others who make a living off of the ocean.
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.