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Beth Shady, Founder of SeaweedArt with Dr. Sylvia Earle

This past week I had the good fortune to attend a lecture by legendary author, explorer and oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle, who spoke on the topic, “Oceans, Life, and Survival,” as part of the sixth Fred Keeley Lecture on Environmental Policy.

Dr. Earle has earned a stellar reputation in the world of  ocean discovery and conservation and to say I was in awe of her would be an understatment. Here are just a few of her honors: Named the first “Hero for the Planet” by Time magazine. National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998.Chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1990 to 1992 and has led more than 100 research expeditions involving more than 7,000 hours underwater. The New Yorker and New York Times have dubbed her “Her Deepness;” the Library of Congress calls her a “Living Legend.”

After the lecture I got to meet her, but with the throngs of people waiting to speak to her, we did not get much time to talk. The following evening my husband Bill and I attended a private reception at Fred Keeley’s house. It was a benefit for and celebration of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation that is opening an Exploration Center in Santa Cruz this summer. I was invited because I partner with them and donate 10% of my profits to their fundraising campaign. In addition, and this was a real thrill for me, my SeaweedArt cards were used for the invitations.

Fred’s house was packed to the gills (sorry, pun intended) of some pretty influential and high powered ocean advocates– a former state senator, famed photographer, Frans Lanting, the director of the California Coastal Commission, the board members of all the sanctuaries, and of course, Sylvia Earle. I thought to myself later that I should have been intimidated, but I wasn’t. Why? Because as Fred so eloquently stated in his opening remarks, “It doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian or vegetarian, we all care for and are passionate about the ocean.” What really struck me was how everyone present had their own personal ocean story.

Later, when I spoke to Sylvia I told her how much I had enjoyed her talk the night before and what had resonated with me the most was her  reminiscing of  her childhood growing up in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. That got me thinking about my own childhood with summers spent at the Jersey shore digging for clams and building sand castles with my brother and sisters. This is something we can all relate to.

Sylvia stated that there are a lot of things about the ocean that we still do not know, therefore we must continue to discover and explore. This is true, however, I think the starting point for galvanizing support for ocean clean up and preservation is to build on what we already know… summers in the sand, boogie boarding, hanging 10 and catching waves.

What is your ocean story?  The first five people to comment here will receive a free set of SeaweedArt greeting cards.


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