By Edward Hind, Samantha Oester, and Matthew Tietbhol
This week, SCB Marine Section (the organizers of IMCC4) are asking scientists and the wider public to share their reasons for appreciating the oceans. Their hope is that this will spread appreciation for the oceans even farther, supporting future marine conservation efforts.
Below, three SCB marine members share the reasons they fell in love with the ocean. Once you’ve read these we’d love you to log in to Facebook or Twitter and share your own reasons using the Heart the Oceans Day* hashtag (#HeartTheOceans).
*Heart the Oceans Day (February 12, 2016) is an SCB Marine Communications and Fundraising event. All funds raised will go toward conducting marine conservation in developing countries and small island states. You can donate here.
Samantha Oester – SCB Marine Section President Elect and IMCC4 Chair
I grew up in West Virginia, a landlocked state in the U.S., but my Kindergarten teacher told our class of five-year-olds about Save the Whales. (It was 1987.) I was immediately hooked. Our tiny school library was a shelf or two by the secretary’s desk, and I asked her for any books on the ocean or ocean animals. There were two, and I read each one over and over, soaking up every word and photo, memorizing every passage. I vowed I would learn as much as possible about the ocean until I could see it in person, and as an adult, I would take in the beauty and majesty of marine life in the wild. As a marine and coastal scientist, I think about little me and how over-the-moon I would’ve been if I had somehow known I would grow up to see everything I’ve seen and to work toward conserving marine life and ecosystems. Yet, I remain fascinated by the ocean. My love affair with ocean animals and the water is ongoing. Many people do not have a personal connection with the ocean, not realizing our lives depend on it, even those who can’t see it from their communities. Not only are the oceans awe-inspiring, but human life and civilization needs the oceans for oxygen production, carbon sequestration, food, and a wealth of other services provided by marine and coastal ecosystems. Without the oceans, there is no us. Every day we take a breath is Heart the Oceans Day. Breathe deeply, appreciate life, and thank the oceans.
Matthew Tietbhol – Heart the Oceans Coordinator
Ever since collecting small marine critters on a high school trip to Jamaica, my fascination in the oceans has grown. At first, I was entranced simply by watching sea cucumbers and sea stars move around their tank and interact with each other and other marine life. The more I learned, the more interested I became in marine biology and ecology and trying to understand the complexity of the world’s oceans. Even now in graduate school, I am still learning new things everyday about how important the oceans are in regulating the climate, providing key services for human society, and as a home for what I consider to be the most diverse and wondrous groups of animals found on this planet. As a young scientist, I am beginning to truly understand how necessary the world’s oceans are for sustaining life of all kinds. Now, I do not only love the oceans because I find endless wonder and amusement in watching fish trying to hide among corals or octopus changing their color; I love the oceans even more because I am learning just how indispensable they are to humanity and life as a whole. The more I learn, the more there is to love I find, and that is a message I believe would be applicable to anyone who takes the time to stop, listen, and learn something new about the oceans on Heart the Oceans Day or at any other moment in time.
Edward Hind – SCB Marine Section Communications Officer and IMCC4 Vice Chair
I’ve been lucky enough to have seen some of the true wonders of the marine world. My career as a marine conservationist started SCUBA diving over the stunning coral reefs of the Philippines. I’ve watched the awesome beauty of waves crashing on the cliffs of Ireland’s wild and rugged Atlantic coast. I’ve been face-to-face with a great hammerhead shark in the azul waters of the Caribbean. But, for me, the reason I #hearttheoceans most is the memories of humans it has given me. I built my strongest bonds with my late father fishing for sea bass in the UK. My mother gave me the gift of an interest in all things marine when she took me rock-pooling for the first time. My wife’s fascination at the sight of a parrot fish defecating will never fail to make me belly laugh. I heart the oceans because they have always looked after me. We should look after them.