Last weekend I had the honor of recognizing award-winning actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio for his dedicated and generous support of ocean conservation. DiCaprio was Oceana’s guest of honor at our annual SeaChange Summer Party in Laguna Beach, California.
A longtime environmental advocate, DiCaprio’s foundation recently donated $3 million to Oceana to aid our conservation efforts in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. Over the next three years, this grant will help fund existing and new campaigns that target ocean habitats and keystone species, including sharks.
On stage, DiCaprio spoke about his love of the oceans and their significance to our planet. “As an avid diver I’ve been lucky enough to dive in places all over the world, including Australia, the Galapagos, Belize, and Thailand,” said DiCaprio. “I’ve witnessed first-hand not only the beauty that our oceans have to offer a diver, but everything they have to offer humanity.”
“We have an obligation to protect our planet and all the species that inhabit it, and that is why I’m here today to celebrate Oceana’s achievements,” he added. “For me and my foundation, Oceana is an absolute no-brainer to support because they deliver tangible results and that’s what we need.”
Earlier this year, DiCaprio spoke at the inaugural Our Ocean conference in Washington DC, where he pledged an additional $7 million to ocean conservation efforts across the world. His announcement came at a particularly exciting time for the oceans, as it dovetailed President Obama’s commitment to develop a comprehensive program aimed at combating seafood fraud and keeping illegal fish out of the U.S. market.
Oceana is leading the fight to protect and restore the world’s oceans, and we are immensely pleased to have DiCaprio’s support. As our California campaign director Geoff Shester said on stage, we recently closed more than 140,000 square miles of fragile seafloor habitat to destructive bottom trawling, protected more than 40,000 square miles of critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles, and helped ban the sale and trade of shark fins in California. And that’s just in the Pacific Ocean.
With DiCaprio’s help, the SeaChange Summer Party was an immense success — our guests donated more than $1 million for the oceans, making it the most successful fundraiser in Oceana’s history.
Thank you for your support.
For the oceans,
Chief Executive Officer