In this gorgeous new Oceana video Alexandra Cousteau delves into Monterey Bay to illuminate the diversity of life at the bottom of the ocean, a crucial habitat that is under the constant threat of obliteration from bottom trawling. Using an ROV the camera captures an otherworldly scene, as scallops flutter by and curlicued basket stars unfurl. Armies of shrimp and brittle stars scamper by, fed by the organic matter from above that drifts down the water column like snowfall, sustaining a remarkably rich community. In shallower waters, coral gardens that take hundreds of years to blossom shelter rockfish and ingeniously disguised crabs, and serve as a nursery for dozens of species of fish. Here octopuses go camouflage against the rocky shale, out of sight of the hungry sperm whales and sea lions from above. Anemone-covered spires upwell nutrient rich waters that feed shoals of krill, which in turn feed blue whales. It is an intricately connected ecosystem and it can be destroyed in an instant by bottom trawling. That’s why Oceana has pushed for an end to bottom trawling in ecologically sensitive areas. And that work has paid off in concrete victories: in 2006 NOAA protected 140,000 square miles of Pacific seafloor from the destructive practice, but more needs to be done. For the most part this world goes unseen by human eyes and it’s why Oceana is working laboriously to document these precious areas before they disappear.
The new issue of Oceana magazine is hot off the presses! In this issue, I interviewed Oceana senior advisor Alexandra Cousteau, who also graces this issue's cover.
The granddaughter of famed ocean explorer and filmmaker Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Alexandra doesn’t take her family legacy lightly. She spends her days advocating for ocean and water conservation around the world. Oceana welcomed her as a senior advisor to the organization in February, a role she will juggle along with many others, including being a mother to her baby daughter Clémentine. Besides lending her expertise to Oceana, Alexandra is a National Geographic Explorer, founder of Blue Legacy International, and brand ambassador for Oceana expedition partner Revo Sunglasses. Here's what she had to say:
Tell me about your family’s history with the oceans.
Clearly my family has a long history with the oceans. It’s hard to tell my story without talking about my grandfather because it’s a multi-generational continuation of what he started. He spent years imagining the aqualung, finally co-inventing the regulator with Emile Gagnan in 1942. And it hasn’t evolved that much (since then) – the technology is incredibly simple. It allowed him to pull back the curtain on 70 percent of the planet that up until that point nobody could have imagined. My grandfather was really the first to tell stories about what’s there and help people understand it.
What’s your earliest ocean memory?
My first dive was when I was seven. My grandfather took me in the Med off the coast of Nice. He had fashioned a small scuba set for me, a little mask and a little tank with rubber suspenders and what seemed like a huge regulator on my small face. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t understand the technology; breathing underwater was just counter-intuitive. Before I had a chance to protest, he looked down at me, gave me a wink and pushed me in. I took a few tentative breaths and as soon as I saw that it worked I started swimming down, I was so excited. I found myself surrounded by these small silver fish which were swimming in unison in a circle around me.
We’ve gathered hundreds of nominations for this year’s Ocean Heroes Contest and over the next 6 days, Oceana’s Finalist Selection Committee will have the difficult task of choosing six Adult and six Junior Finalists. They will be announced on June 27 and the rest is in your hands – you’ll vote to decide who will be the 2012 Ocean Heroes.
In the meantime, I’d like to use this break in the action to recognize our two primary sponsors for the Ocean Heroes Contest – Nautica and Revo Sunglasses. When the recovery of the world’s oceans is your primary mission, it’s good to have allies who are willing to put substantial capital and resources towards that mission.
I’ll have more to write about Nautica in the coming weeks, but let’s start with Revo, a partner since 2011. Revo’s support for Oceana begins with our habitat protection campaigns, as the official eyewear partner of our expedition work and extends to the Ocean Heroes Awards, which – as you know – is a program aimed at highlighting and celebrating the achievements of concerned activists, researchers, educators, rehabilitators, conservationists and just about anyone else who pours their heart into the protection of our oceans.
This concept –honoring real heroes – is mirrored by Revo’s own choices for their brand ambassadors. They’re not superstar athletes or famous musicians, but artists, environmentalists and adventurers, like mountain climber Jimmy Chin, explorer Sebastian Copeland and ocean activist Alexandra Cousteau. Coincidentally, Alexandra recently joined Oceana as a Scientific Advisor.
Just last month, Alexandra joined our expedition in the Baltic Sea to help its crew explore the Baltic’s brackish waters and collect data that will assist Oceana in conservation and fisheries management proposals. Because of her association with Oceana, you won’t find Alexandra listed among the finalists for the Ocean Heroes Awards next Wednesday, but you will find 6 adults and 6 young people whose spirit, dedication and energy make them, like Alexandra, valuable artillery in the fight to the protect the world’s oceans.
After recently joining Oceana as a senior advisor, I traveled with the team to Fort Lauderdale last week where we hosted our first major South Florida event, SeaBlue. We had a great time and let me say, it was a huge success for the oceans.
At SeaBlue we raised a lot of money to help protect the world’s oceans and in the process, over 300 guests had a blast dancing and singing along to the music of Oceana Ambassador Adrian Grenier and The Honey Brothers. We were also joined by Martin Stepanek (world champion free diver) and Wyland (a renowned marine artist) as we celebrated Oceana at the perfect winter getaway.
On a more serious note, the evening focused on sharks and the need for Floridians to fight for their protection. Legislation in Florida to stop the shark fin trade has stalled, putting a kink in Oceana’s efforts to stop the practice of shark finning and the trade of fins, which still legally feeds the high demand in many states.
We’re excited to announce that Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, has become a senior advisor to Oceana.
Alexandra is a distinguished international ocean advocate, and as a senior advisor she will lend her environmental expertise and influence to help guide the organization’s global campaigns to protect and restore the oceans.
“I admire Oceana’s effectiveness,” said Alexandra. “In order to protect our oceans we need action that produces tangible results and that’s what Oceana does. I’ve traveled the globe exploring our oceans and I’ve learned from the world’s best, so I know what’s at stake. I trust in Oceana’s ability to protect the oceans and I’m thrilled to do my part to help it keep winning.”
Alexandra is also a National Geographic Explorer, founder of Blue Legacy International, and brand ambassador for Oceana expedition partner Revo Sunglasses.
“Alexandra comes from a family of ocean heroes; it’s in her blood. I can’t think of a better person to join Oceana as we tackle our second decade of ocean conservation,” said Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. “She’s been at this since her first ocean expedition when she was four months old, so she has a level of experience and credibility that is extremely unique. We’re immensely fortunate to have her on our team”.
Looking for an excuse to celebrate the oceans this winter? Look no further. On March 3, we are holding our inaugural SeaBlue benefit event in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and you are invited!
SeaBlue will feature a musical performance by The Honey Brothers with Oceana Ambassador Adrian Grenier, and Alexandra Cousteau and World Champion Freediver Martin Stepanek will also be in attendance.
The benefit, co-chaired by philanthropic leaders Senta Monet Mackel and Louise Storelli Fogarty, will be hosted at the award-winning W Fort Lauderdale. Guests will be treated to an evening of hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and dancing in an underwater world created by Chris Cruz of Emagination.
SeaBlue is made possible by the generous support of our sponsors and underwriters, including W Fort Lauderdale, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, LiveESP.com, Wells Fargo, Bacardi U.S.A. and Emagination.
You can purchase tickets at www.seablueevent.org, and please spread the word!