Thoughts of Dr Sylvia Earle

Hout Bay Harbour < Hout Bay Harbour[/caption]It's so interesting to see where life takes you. Years ago I saw a picture in one of my son's zoology textbooks (which I was dipping into as research for my book “Miracles of Hope”) of a very glamorous woman waving from the open hatch of a submersible. Her name was Dr Sylvia Earle and even then she was something of an ocean conservation rock star. Well I got to listen to, meet and give a copy of my book to Dr Earle on Monday evening (15 April) at the SAMSA Sea Pledge Sustainable Seas Trust Tour Launch.

What Dr Earle (who is the patron of the Sustainable Seas Trust) had to say in her heartfelt presentation was disconcerting to say the least – 96% of blue fin tuna has gone from the Pacific; stocks of shark are down to about 10% and half of the ocean’s coral reefs are in decline, as are kelp forests and mangroves. She condemned the practice of harvesting valuable sea life such as sharks, abalone and sea cucumbers for no other reason than to titilate dissipated tastebuds. These species in no way qualify as food security species and in fact their harvesting undermines food security. This type of harvesting is part of a “sea blindness” that could have dire consequences for us as a species in the time ahead. Dr Earle went on to say that, “We are seeing geological change taking place before our eyes and we must choose now, while we still have the time, to protect what still works”.

There is so much that each of us can do. We can choose our seafood carefully and with a view to sustainability (for info on sustainable species go to, choosing not to eat exotic species that have little food value. We can take care not to leave plastic or other rubbish after a day on the beach. We can become volunteers for penguin counting or rescue. We can even think carefully about our carbon footprint and take care to reduce it. It really matters what we do …