Tuesday, May 8, 2012

America's Underwater Treasures

Holly Lohuis, producer for Jean-Michel Cousteau's underwater video team at Ocean Futures Society, gave a great presentation at the Hearst Castle Theater last Saturday. night. She was so energetic and positive, the video she showed was so electrifying! Her message touched hearts in the audience and started changing the world. She, her son Gavin and I are standing in front of a 16th-century tapestry, with men in boats, that decorates the lobby.

Her subject was the National Marine Sanctuaries, the 13 ocean areas that are now under federal protection. These areas become the nursery for fish and other ocean life, places to reproduce the fish and shellfish that are being taken by commercial fishing. They are places that allow for recovery of natural ecosystems. Four National Marine Sanctuaries protect the ocean along the California coast. The Piedrass Blancas elephant seal rookery is covered by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

I had goosebumps as she showed video of herself swimming with sharks, climbing up into the boat and bubbling with excitement, eager to return to swim with them some more. That energy and enthusiasm connected with her audience. I felt connected to her and her passionate cause, saving the oceans.

The video of plastic garbage on Laysan Island and in the Pacific Garbage Gyre, killing birds that eat it and feed it to their chicks addressed an unpleasant reality. It's always difficult to present the sad parts of environmental stories. Focusing on ugly truths doesn't make anyone happy. Holly's upbeat attitude carried that message to her audience's hearts without raising their guilt. She inspired them to make the changes that will change the world.

Several people in the community have commented to me about how the presentation has already changed their behavior. One told me that she'll never buy an individual bottle of water again. She had a refillable bottle with her. Another is thinking about opening a store to sell products in bulk, so that plastic containers can be re-used. Charmaine Coimbra, who attended the event, finds her Neptune 911 blog is getting hundreds of hits, especially when she posts about plastics in marine mammals.

Thanks, Holly for that night and your continuing work. You're the kind of leader who will help us all be the change we need to save the world.

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