A lifetime spent exploring the coves and beaches of the Mediterranean Sea instilled within Alexandra Cousteau a love of the oceans. A senior adviser to Oceana, she’s rubbed elbows with white tip sharks and walked with women in Africa to bring attention to water issues. Building on the legacy of her grandfather, Jaques-Yves Cousteau, and father, Philippe Cousteau, Alexandra is a globally recognized advocate on water issues. And she was kind enough to take questions on reddit during an “AMA” or “Ask Me Anything.” Here are the highlights.
If you could save one aquatic animal/fish/organism from extinction forever, which one would it be?
I love the beautiful blue shark. Their shape and color is stunning. But sharks in general are incredibly important to ocean ecosystems because they are the top predators and without them, marine ecosystems as we know them would disappear. Unfortunately, tens of millions of sharks are killed every [year] just for their fins and as a result, the IUCN has red listed several species.
With many changes occurring in the oceans worldwide, what is one of the most impactful threats you’ve witnessed to ocean habitats on your travels?
I was stunned and heartbroken when I visited Louisiana and Alabama after the Deepwater Horizon spill. The devastation to the oceans, sea creatures, beaches and human communities was unbelievable and continues to play out like a slow motion catastrophe that will be felt for years to come. Right now, Oceana is fighting to keep new drilling out of the Atlantic and Arctic. If you want to be heard, there is a petition here: Oceana.org/stopthedrill
Of the many explorations you have embarked upon, which stands out most in your memory? Was there one in particular where you experienced something completely unexpected or extraordinary?
There have been so many changes in our global environment since I was a child and I’ve seen a lot of heartbreaking changes to places I love. So when I get to experience places like the Okavango Delta in Botswana or Sipadan in Malaysia, it feels extraordinary to witness a place that is still in many ways untouched by humans.
What is one thing that young people can do to help save our oceans?
Use the power of your social media channels to get your friends involved. You can also lend your voice and sign petitions to make change for our oceans. Attend events in your area. Go to oceana.org and signup to become a Wavemaker.
What is your favorite memory of your grandfather?
He was a magical human being and I have so many. Perhaps the one that has influenced me the most was when we taught me to dive. I was seven years old and we were off the coast of southern France. I was nervous at first but once I took my first breath and saw the view below the surface, I was hooked. That introduction to the underwater world continues to inspire me today.