I celebrated World Oceans Day by going to a talk at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium and had the chance to listen to David Helvarg speak. Helvarg is a passionate advocate for the ocean, the author of several books and president of the Blue Frontier Campaign.
His talk launched with a reading from his new book “Saved by the Sea” and then segued into a seamless discussion of the multitude of issues facing our oceans today. Of course the BP oil spill was a topic that couldn’t be ignored. Tragically, the spill is turning Helvarg’s catch phrase “blue is the new green” to “blue is the new black.” Helvarg said that the spill is no surprise, he’s visited oil rigs and seen employees wearing t-shirts that said in bold lettering “new record” because rig culture is about drilling deeper and scoring mass amounts of oil.
What’s surprising he said is that 18 million gallons of oil spilled during hurricane Katrina and never received any press. 18 million gallons!
Despite all the depressing statistics Helvarg has memorized, he still has hope because we have the solutions to many ocean problems, it’s just a matter of implementing them. Stop using single-use plastic and invest in green energy, the answers are out there it’s a matter of having the collective will to make it happen.
“The number one way to save the ocean is to go to the beach,” he said. “You save what you love.” And the only way to get more people to love and protect the ocean is by going to the beach and making that connection. “And bring an extra bag to pick up all the plastic that’s become endemic everywhere.”
He reminded all of us that the ocean is 97% of the earth’s living habitat. “Ninety percent of pelagic fish are gone.” It’s a mistake to only think of the ocean’s surface. Helvarg commented that the first thing scientists are looking for on Mars is water, yet we’ve barely explored our oceans.
It’s time to become proper caretakers of the water we have here. He ended by saying, “The pounding of the waves is like a mother’s heart beat. We’ve still got time to turn things around. We’ve got to save mom.”