Mission Blue Board Member Shari Sant Plummer sat down with WWF’s World Wildlife magazine to discuss exploring and protecting the ocean.
(Originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of World Wildlife magazine):
Were you scared the first time you went scuba diving?
No, I took to it very naturally. It feels like flying to me. I especially love being in warm, clear water, where you can experience the vastness of the ocean. I feel a freedom under water that I never get on land. Plus, while diving a healthy reef, there is the opportunity to watch fish in every size, shape and color swimming through vibrant ancient corals. It’s magical.
Is there a particular species that you’re intent on saving?
Yes, humans! At the end of the day, ocean conservation is not just about saving a particular fish, it’s about saving ourselves. The whole complex ecosystem of the ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, is 97% of our water, provides the majority of our oxygen and dictates our climate. Every species in the ocean has a job to do to ensure balance in the system. I love the ocean for the same reasons most people do—for the magnificence and solace it offers—but as a conservationist I’m passionate about the ocean because it’s critical to our existence. If we don’t have a healthy ocean, we won’t survive. Period.
What advice would you give young people interested in conservation?
For the next generation there are enormous possibilities for conservation using new technology to communicate, educate and make global decisions about what kind of planet we want to live on. Mostly, my advice is to follow your passion. In my own life, I made a series of seemingly small choices that led me to do exactly what I wanted to do, at a time when it’s important for me to do it. Ultimately, to be effective you need to love what you do.
A member of WWF’s National Council and Marine Leadership Committee, Shari Sant Plummer has a deep affinity for the ocean, and has become an influential and enthusiastic voice for ocean conservation. This passion infuses her life as an activist, diver, philanthropist and photographer. She has explored remote marine habitats, such as Millennium Atoll in Kiribati (where the sharks above were photographed), and has traveled extensively to raise awareness about the importance of the ocean and the human-induced perils that threaten to destroy it.
(Featured image © Brian Skerry)