The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the globe. Its breath is pure and healthy.
It is an immense domain, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence.
It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the Living Infinite. Nature manifests herself in it, the ocean is the vast reservoir of Nature.
In it Nature’s creative power is far beyond man’s instinct of destruction or so we thought. The ocean needs our help and so that help will arrive via our voyage of recovery.
Brooklyn, New York July 4th 2017: When in 1870 Jules Verne, wrote the words above as part of his epic testimonial to his beloved ocean, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, he could have scarcely imagined the terrible harm mankind would cause to what he described as an indescribably wonderfully purest part of nature. But today we know that without our help the blue heart of Nature on this Blue Planet is destined to become a clear blue lifeless desert. A new voyage of recovery and restoration is needed, send for the Captain (Nemo) ashore, let us go help, join me and my grandson there is work to be done.
Verne’s novel began with an expedition that departed from Brooklyn New York, the very place where I sit writing this today, Independence Day. Verne’s storyteller is a French marine biologist, Pierre Aronnax , like I, he is determined to learn all that he can on his voyage.
The ocean is in peril and something must be done to replenish and restore it to health. Arronax and I share a common intention, as Verne wrote “where others have failed, I shall not fail.”
For most of humanity the ocean is an utterly mysterious and unknowable place. It seems to them uniform being simply a gigantic pool of water the same everywhere though with some understandably different shoreline. Beyond the shore it is simply the realm of deep and within that vast abyss all manner of mysterious creatures.
Watch this incredible video about plankton.
Humanity has only ventured far out to sea to find something there to kill and drag back to shore whether the victim be whale, fish, an opposing navy, or a pirate’s booty. Never has man deigned to give back to the ocean, to care for it, to care for that which nutures all of life on this blue planet.
The human mind delights in grand conceptions of supernatural beings. And the sea is precisely their best vehicle, the only medium through which these giants (against which terrestrial animals, such as elephants or rhinoceroses, are as nothing) can be produced or developed.
“THE DEEPEST PARTS OF THE ocean are totally unknown to us,” admits Professor Aronnax early in this Verne’s novel.
“What goes on in those distant depths? What creatures inhabit, or could inhabit, those regions… It’s almost beyond conjecture.”
Jules Verne these words 150 years ago and little has changed since.
“Today we know more about Mars than we know about the oceans.”
The voyage of recovery will be a long one, at least the 20,000 leagues , or twice the circumference of the planet and just to begin. In life’s preparation for this great voyage I have already crossed four of the Seven Seas. We willingly exile ourselves to tend to oceans where our Odyssey will take me and those who sign aboard (in flesh or figment).
Where we go won’t be easy, it won’t be without great hardships and challenges but the work is vital. Without our help the oceans and life on this blue planet as we know it is in the gravest of danger. More than ten years ago the British Royal Society published a report predicting that by 2050 collapse of the oceans health would be such that fish would no longer be able to be harvested from them. They put that loss as hardship for humanity but the hardship for nature and all of ocean life is beyond the imagination.
The crisis the ocean face is because of CO2 and that comes from each and every one of us. That CO2 is deadly to our oceans and all of the life that they harbour. You can read everywhere on this blog about how our CO2 is killing the oceans but most important is to know that we know how to remedy this great harm we, the human race, have committed. The undoing of that great harm is what our voyage of recovery seeks to undo.
Victor Hugo, author of “The Toilers of the Sea” penned an episode where a sailor fights a giant octopus, the octopus symbolizes the Industrial Revolution. Jules Verne borrowed the symbol and used it to allude to the Revolutions of his day where man stands against the “monster.”
Today as the industrial revolution has poured a trillion tonnes of deadly CO2 into the air and oceans, this yesterday’s first dose of CO2 is already a LETHAL dose for life in the oceans. We must administer prompt aid and the antidote lest the heart and soul of our blue planet wither and die. Whether we in our ignorance and arrogance administer a second lethal dose will matter little if we do nothing to provide the effective treatment for the first lethal dose if we stand by talking and wait for someone else to save the planet.
Margaret Drabble argues that Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea anticipated the ecology movement and shaped the French avant-garde. She writes, “I was introduced to Jules Verne at Christmas 1948 when my parents gave me a beautifully illustrated and cleverly abridged copy of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas. I loved this book, and read it again and again. It inspired in me a passion for stories of underwater adventures, even more thrilling to me than travels in space and moon landings. The vast underwater world is full of wonders, and we have hardly begun to explore them. The sense of excitement communicated by Verne more than half a century ago is with me still.”
Stopping ocean desertification
Around the world, in all of the Seven Seas, ocean pastures have been turning into ever more clear, bluer, lifeless deserts. We now know how to replenish and restore them to historic health and abundance, and because we have this knowledge we must continue to do so. It is a remarkably simple, inexpensive, and immediately effective remedy. The ocean science community has spent 30 years and a half a billion dollars in public funds studying and testing the concept.
In 2012 I successfully restored a vast ocean pasture in the Gulf of Alaska, nearly 20,000 sq. miles of dying ocean came back to life. Seabirds, whales, and fish all came to my restored ocean pasture to feed and to survive. The very next year in Alaska instead of the predicted catch of some 50 million salmon, 226 million were caught filling every cannery and fish warehouse to overflowing forcing the end of fishing. The fish kept coming and filled every stream and river to the point that no more fish could fit get into the rivers. It was the largest catch and return of salmon in all of history.
The rest of the world’s oceans, Captain Nemo’s Oceans are dying before our eyes. Because we know we can succeed we must. As Jules Verne so eloquently put it some 150 years ago speaking of the vital need for someone to care for the oceans.
We can only hope to echo the words of Captain Nemo, “Where others have failed, I shall not fail.”