Adrian Grenier is best known as the star of "Entourage," HBO’s series about the life of a young movie star and his friends. But this summer, Adrian got a new kind of co-star: the powerful and imperiled Atlantic bluefin tuna. Adrian joined Oceana and Nautica in a new campaign to educate the public about the critically endangered fish.
Already threatened by overfishing, bluefin were dealt a second blow when the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster affected one of just two spawning grounds for Atlantic bluefin. Adrian spoke with Oceana's Matt Littlejohn about his inspiration to help save the bluefin and the incredible experience of diving with some of the ocean’s coolest fish.
Why are you interested in bluefin tuna?
Bluefin tuna are some of the biggest, baddest fish in the ocean. Most people think a tuna is a tuna, but the bluefins are special. They are fierce predators and very important to ocean ecosystems. They need help because we’re eating them to the brink of extinction.
How do you think your involvement can help this cause?
I hope that my involvement will bring attention to what is going on with bluefin tuna and encourage enough people to get involved in saving the bluefin. If we give them a break for a few years – catch and eat less – we can dramatically turn this thing around.
But I do want to point out that I didn't save anything by making this PSA. I'm just a geeky actor who had an opportunity to see these majestic creatures, draw attention to their plight and have some fun too. We all need to get involved. This includes getting active in changing policy and also maybe some of our personal habits. I am planning on avoiding tuna for the next three years at least.
What was your impression of bluefin tuna when you swam with them?
I didn’t sleep that much that night. I must have been dreaming pretty deeply, in anticipation of the dive, because I kept waking up thinking I was in the ocean, already swimming with the tuna. So I was feeling a little sleepy that morning, but 55-degree water and 500-pound tuna wakes you up pretty quick.
It was a bit intimidating at first. We were diving with these enormous tuna and they’re just magnificent, majestic creatures. I didn’t know if I could touch them or if they would be coming at me, but they kept their distance.
What did you take away from the experience?
I think it’s important to be constantly updating and evolving with the changing philosophy, with the changing science, and to team up with Oceana and Nautica and actually go out and seeing first hand what’s happening was really helpful. A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to see how our consumption is actually affecting the ocean. Just as we need to be fiscally responsible by not spending beyond our means, we have to be responsible for the amount of fishing we do. And we’ve gone over our fish budget, at least in regard to tuna.
What are the threats to the bluefin tuna fishery in the Gulf of Mexico with the oil spill; why is it so bad?
Bluefin tuna are already severely overfished and the oil spill could further jeopardize their recovery. The Gulf is home to one of the two known breeding grounds for Atlantic bluefin.
What can be done to protect the bluefin tuna population?
We need immediate fisheries closures until stocks recover, to protect spawning bluefin, and to reduce fishing.
How can I make a difference?
Look, I’m cynical, like we all can be. But you have to pierce through the cynicism -- take responsibility for your choices and find what’s important to you. And, the main message governments are hearing from citizens right now is “I love to eat bluefin.” But it helps the people lobbying to save them if we can get more people on the other side saying, “I want to save bluefin, they’re really cool and important to the oceans and the natural world.” It can really make a difference.
To see video of Adrian diving with bluefin, visit www.oceana.org/goingfast.