Jean-Michel Cousteau Speaks on Ocean Conversation, Oil Spill

Apr 24th, 2011 | By | Category: Green Living

Oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau spoke recently at Guilford College on the need to protect the oceans. Speaking April 12 as part of Guilford’s prestigious Bryan Series, Cousteau focused on identifying the major problems facing the oceans and waterways, as well as envisioning their solutions.

G145 Coral reefs 300x225 Jean Michel Cousteau Speaks on Ocean Conversation, Oil Spill

Photo by Mbz1 at en.wikipedia

Cousteau identified three major problems facing water resources: habit destruction, overfishing, and pollution. Addressing habit destruction first, he said, “Ice is melting, and the ocean is rising. It isn’t rising very fast, but it is rising. That puts extra energy in the ecosystem, and storms get worse.”

Turning to the problem of overfishing, Cousteau emphasized how the destruction of large fish like sharks has disrupted the food chain. “We have already removed 90 percent of the ocean’s big fish,” Cousteau said. “It really is anarchy out there.” He particularly criticized the practice of “finning” sharks for shark-fin soup, cutting off their fins and tails and wasting the rest of their bodies.

Addressing the problem of pollution, Cousteau complained, “Everyone is using the ocean as a universal sewer. . . It’s gotten to the point where nature is saying enough is enough.” He expressed concern about birds eating small plastic garbage and feeding them to their offspring.

Cousteau also emphasized the steps many people are taking to address these issues. He felt that a key to solving these problems is getting kids outside to develop a better appreciation of nature.

In this advice, Cousteau draws from his own experience and example as the eldest son of Jacques Cousteau, inventor of the SCUBA tank and pioneer in ocean exploration and conservation. Jean-Michel first dived with his father’s invention at the age of seven in 1945. He spent twenty years assisting his father’s Cousteau Society before branching out on his own. In 1999 he formed the Ocean Futures Society, a non-profit marine conservation and education organization. He has produced over 80 films and received numerous awards.

Cousteau is currently working on a documentary about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, The Spill and Beyond. He posted his one-year anniversary thoughts on the oil spill on the Ocean Futures Society blog Wednesday.

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