(Dr. Sylvia Earle on the Mission Blue Galapagos Expedition)
Mission Blue’s Galapagos Expedition made serious ripples in the ocean community and inspired a wellspring of action and initiative for ocean conservation. One such result was ocean appassionato David Shaw taking interest in the Sargasso Sea — the “floating rainforest of ocean” as Dr. Earle calls it — which led to the creation of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, a special organization that has worked tirelessly for years to better protect the marine area. This week, their efforts have paid off in spades.
On Tuesday, countries and territories from around the Sargasso Sea Hope Spot and Europe met in Bermuda to reaffirm their support for an initiative, led by the Government of Bermuda, to collaborate for the conservation of the Sargasso Sea ecosystem. The governments of Bermuda, the Azores, Monaco, United Kingdom and the United States signed the “Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea” which is a non-binding political statement that indicates signatories’ interest in voluntarily collaborating on efforts to conserve the Sargasso Sea – a vast patch of ocean named for a type of free-floating seaweed called Sargassum.
“We believe that a protection declaration for the Sargasso Sea can become an island of hope, inspiration and exemplary stewardship in a vast sea of perilous complacency and ominous threats.” said David Shaw.
In light of this historic agreement, Richard Rockefeller, the chairman of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, credited Mission Blue for provoking Bermudas Governor Brown to get things underway and do what’s right for the Sargasso. He added, “I was first attracted to this project by the unique ecological values of the Sargasso Sea Hope Spot and equally intrigued by its audacity: for a relatively small amount of money, we have the opportunity to develop protection measures for nearly 2 million square miles of open ocean. This scale of action is unprecedented either on land or in the sea. This kind of leverage is available once in a philanthropist’s lifetime, if ever.”
These diplomatic displays of goodwill towards further ocean protection come on the heels of Secretary State Kerry taking a special interest in ocean matters. Recently he said, “whether you live on the coast or you live hundreds of miles from the closest beach, the fact is that every human on Earth depends on the oceans for the food we eat and for the air we breathe. Let me emphasize that. Most people don’t think about that, but for the air we breathe. We depend on the oceans, literally, for the essentials of life. And as we all know, the oceans are home to countless different species and diverse ecosystems. And the environmental reasons for protecting the planet’s oceans should be leaping out at people.”
The Sargasso Sea Alliance was inspired by the Mission Blue Galapagos Expedition and formed in 2010 under the leadership of the Government of Bermuda, in collaboration with scientists, international marine conservation groups and private donors, who all share a vision of protecting this unique and vulnerable open ocean ecosystem — a Hope Spot made up of a two million square nautical mile ecosystem in the North Atlantic.