“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.”
— Dave Barry, Author and Columnist at Miami Herald
It would be hard to find a better quote to introduce the work of the organization we’re pointing to in this article. In the face of our oceans’ declining health, SeaLegacy is perfectly positioned for the challenge of saving the day for us all and is helping us rethink our relationship with the sea.
Let’s take a look — into the oceans and their complex beauty — to see how SeaLegacy’s work has an impact on all of us, wherever we make our homes.
SeaLegacy is refining the best recipe for the worst of times: Bringing people together.
With their 15 million (and growing) social media followers and a knack for inspiring the best from others, SeaLegacy’s potential to improve the future for all of us is really something to celebrate.
Founded by two preeminent National Geographic photographers — Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen — they are true masters of weaving images and stories to connect us all. SeaLegacy is capturing and sharing the wonders happening above and below the water’s surface.
They have also recently created The Collective, a team made up of a group of equally renown photographers and filmmakers who are bringing previously hidden marvels into all of our lives and alerting us to situations that need our attention.
To start us off into the splendor of the ocean that Dave Barry pointed to in our opening quote, let’s dive into this video from SeaLegacy!
What an inspiring vision of possibility!
Their remarkable work is pointing to new unsung heroes in the effort to improve our planet’s future: conservation photographers, filmmakers, and storytellers.
As important as data, protest, and activist interventions are (and they do so often save the day) it will take a fundamental shift in public awareness to turn the tide on the health of our oceans now. SeaLegacy’s level of excellence in visual storytelling could do just that! It may turn out to be the key to finally connecting us all to both the problems and the solutions of our world.
SeaLegacy has the power to take us below the thin blue line that separates us from the most important ecosystem on our planet.
And their work may be the best chance for us all to deeply experience the awe and wonder of our world’s oceans and come together to save them!
But Why the Sense of Urgency?
I suspect that by now, we all feel like we’ve seen too many images of dying turtles caught in sea garbage, lone polar bears on a postage size piece of ice, and empty fishing nets pulled from the water. Most of us know the problems of overfishing and pollution are heading towards us like a distant freight train, but until I did my research for this article, I had no idea how close you and I are to impact.
Here are some elements of the situation that got my attention:
- Two foundations of our planet are beginning the early signs of collapse: 70% of our planet’s oxygen is produced by tiny marine plants that are showing signs of struggle from ocean pollution 2 and other ocean microorganisms that support the base of our entire food chain are disappearing from key zones in oceans around the world. 3
- Since the 1950s, there are now 500 vast regions in the open ocean and coastal regions have oxygen levels so low that they can be considered “dead zones” 4
- Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. 5 And 93% of it comes from only 10 rivers in the world. 6
- For every swordfish pulled out of the North Atlantic, 10-12 blue sharks come with it and die an agonizing death. 7 (My family members used to order swordfish when we ate at the local seafood restaurant. Not anymore when I’m there to remind them of that statistic!)
- The United Nations Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. 8
- In the last 50 years, we have lost 90% of the big fish in the ocean due to industrial-level fishing. 9
I had no idea that things were so grave. Here are two photos from SeaLegacy’s archives that have haunted me since the day I saw them:
I know. I too had emotions bubble up that I never knew I had. Here’s what Cristina had to say in a piece she wrote for the National Geographic website about taking that photo of the starving polar bear: