Heather Spence, Marine Biologist
Orchestrating Coastal Marine Ecology Investigation and Outreach

Heather Spence, Marine Biologist

“People can’t care if they don’t know” – Sylvia Earle at National Cathedral

Sylvia Earle talked about “Why Saving the Oceans Will Also Save Us” with Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III, at Washington National Cathedral this morning as part of the Sunday Forum series. The renowned marine biologist is Explorer In Residence at the National Geographic Society, and author of “The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One.” Her message is an urgent one:

Our planet is largely water and the water and life in it are essential to human survival.

If you include aquatic real estate, the size of the United States is doubled.

We view the ocean as a place to extract our food and as a place to throw our trash. Does that make sense?

100 million tons of wildlife are extracted from the ocean every year.

The Pacific Garbage Patch and similar accumulations in other oceans, are huge floating masses of plastic, which breaks down very slowly into tiny pieces that can be found everywhere, mixed with sand on every beach and inside fish from remote seas.

Dr. Earle says, “To solve the Earth’s problems, we need to mobilize the kid inside everybody. Kids are natural scientists. They ask who, what, where, why, when. Parents should encourage them and give them a chance to explore the natural world.” As a child, Sylvia Earle spent time on a NJ beach with horseshoe crabs. Once adults came and told her they were dangerous, but she had discovered the creatures were harmless. She realized she knew something the adults didn’t. It was then that she knew she could make a contribution.

Even Jacques Cousteau said it was silent under the sea, but in fact we now know that the deep is full of sounds. Fish make clicks and grunts. A grouper makes such a loud noise that in an aquarium it can shatter the glass. Aquatic life depends on the natural sounds. The noise we humans add is confusing.

Dr. Earle asked everyone to inform themselves about the source of the fish they eat and the method by which it is caught. Trawlers, drift nets, long lines and purse seine nets cause massive devastation. In spite of the vast array of fish in markets and restaurants, choose to eat what is sustainably harvested rather than large carnivorous fish such as tuna and shark.

Dr. Earle has changed the way we see our planet, and helped us understand the importance of the ocean.


National Cathedral Sunday Forum October 4 (with video for download. acoustics addressed at 49’16)

Google Earth 5.0 aka Google Ocean (Dr. Earle is responsible for the ocean being included in Google Earth)

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