October 31, 2011

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Photo by Dorie Cox

This week Dr. Sylvia Earle, Kevin Hardy and Fabien Cousteau inspired megayacht owners, captains and crew at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in Florida to join in the quest to save the world’s ocean.

“We are united in a common interest in the blue part,” Dr. Earle said, pointing to the ocean on a view of earth from space. “I want to know how the power of megayachts might be used in a positive way. This is a community of people who already care.”

It must begin with awareness, she said. “Sure, the problems are what we put in the oceans and what we take out,” Earle said.  “But the biggest problem is to recognize that the oceans are in trouble.”

Kevin Hardy of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography seeks vessels to help his group deploy instruments to measure data in the ocean depths. He showed video of one of the small robotic machines he invented that, when dropped overboard, falls to the sea floor, records data, and floats back to the surface for retrieval.

“Practically every time we do this, we discover a new creature,” he said. Hardy has traveled to the ocean’s major trenches on every type of boat, from fishing trawlers to research vessels. The hard part is getting out to these areas, he said. Yachts can help with that.

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of legendary marine explorer Jacques Cousteau, shared a sentiment from his grandfather, that people with interest and ability have an obligation to use them. “It’s time we stopped living on this planet and start living with it,” said Cousteau.

The scientific panel was sponsored by SeaKeepers International, a non-profit organization who believes that the best way to protect the environment is to protect the world’s oceans. SeaKeepers’ mission is to gather and distribute the most useful oceanographic and atmospheric data from which to draw rational conclusions concerning the health of the world’s oceans and climate. This data is provided to governments, scientists, educational institutions and private citizens throughout the world. “What are we waiting for?” Earle asked. “We’ve been to the moon. Let’s send people to the ocean’s depths.”

Yachts have helicopters, she said, so why not more submersibles? “Explore what is underneath the boat,” she said.

“Our ability to deplete resources is an an all time high,” Dr. Earle said. “But so is our ability to restore.”

By Dorie Cox/Triton

– Edited by Deb Castellana

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