by Maggie Sutherland
I’m not the type of person that has a lot of idols. However, when I first heard about Sylvia Earle during a Geography course in undergrad, she fascinated me.
When I joined the Board of the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium, a lot of my motivation and inspiration to remain involved in marine conservation was thanks to her messages, quotes, and her organization Mission Blue. These provided a glimpse of hope into what always seems like such a dire state of affairs for our oceans. Most of what you hear is about fish populations plummeting, species extinctions, coral bleaching and devastating impacts of human activities. Sylvia Earle provided a voice a hope among all of that. That yes, you as an individual can indeed have an impact or be part of something that helps to change how people treat our oceans.
Maggie at the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium in Newfoundland where she first became involved with community aquariums.
Far and away, the greatest threat to the ocean, and thus to ourselves, is ignorance. But we can do something about that.
One of the most fascinating parts of Sylvia’s messages is that she helps connect you to the ocean. For many people the ocean is a mystery - it is a cold, deep blue blanket that is out there far away. It's not something you ever get close to, or touch, or dive beneath- especially not everyone as lucky as us on the East Coast. Sylvia Earle has helped connect us to that blue blanket, to convince us that the ocean is a part of us, and our existence is intimately connected to it.
If you think the ocean isn't important, imagine Earth without it. No ocean, no life.
When I saw Sylvia Earle was coming to Halifax this fall for the G7 Ocean Summit - I literally started shaking with excitement! This was a person I thought I would NEVER have the change to meet. I told Magali (our Executive Director) and we squealed with excitement about meeting one of the most inspiring women in ocean education and exploration.
Maggie, Sylvia and Magali at the G7 Meetings in Halifax in fall 2018.
On the day of the event, a lucky window opened where Sylvia was not surrounded by people and I knew I had to take this chance to tell her how much of an inspiration she has been to me, motivating me to care about our oceans and help inspire others to care too. I was so nervous I don’t even remember what I said but I hope it was somewhat coherent! That encounter was just the boost I needed to remind myself why I am now involved with a charity that aims to open a collect-hold-and-release aquarium in the Halifax-area. People need to meet the creatures that live beneath our oceans to understand that they are a vital part of our ecosystem. The health of our ocean, which covers over 70% of our planet, starts with each person believing they can take action in their own lives for marine conservation.
Knowing is the key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive actions. They might not care even if they know, but they can’t care if they are unaware.
All quotes by Sylvia Earle.