“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.”
— Dave Barry, Author and Columnist at Miami Herald

It would be hard to find a better quote to introduce the work of the organization we’re pointing to in this article. In the face of our oceans’ declining health, SeaLegacy is perfectly positioned for the challenge of saving the day for us all and is helping us rethink our relationship with the sea. 

Let’s take a look — into the oceans and their complex beauty — to see how SeaLegacy’s work has an impact on all of us, wherever we make our homes.

SeaLegacy is refining the best recipe for the worst of times: Bringing people together.

With their 15 million (and growing) social media followers and a knack for inspiring the best from others, SeaLegacy’s potential to improve the future for all of us is really something to celebrate.

Founded by two preeminent National Geographic photographers — Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen  — they are true masters of weaving images and stories to connect us all. SeaLegacy is capturing and sharing the wonders happening above and below the water’s surface.

They have also recently created The Collective, a team made up of a group of equally renown photographers and filmmakers who are bringing previously hidden marvels into all of our lives and alerting us to situations that need our attention. 

To start us off into the splendor of the ocean that Dave Barry pointed to in our opening quote, let’s dive into this video from SeaLegacy!

What an inspiring vision of possibility!

Their remarkable work is pointing to new unsung heroes in the effort to improve our planet’s future: conservation photographers, filmmakers, and storytellers.

As important as data, protest, and activist interventions are (and they do so often save the day) it will take a fundamental shift in public awareness to turn the tide on the health of our oceans now. SeaLegacy’s level of excellence in visual storytelling could do just that! It may turn out to be the key to finally connecting us all to both the problems and the solutions of our world. 

SeaLegacy has the power to take us below the thin blue line that separates us from the most important ecosystem on our planet.

And their work may be the best chance for us all to deeply experience the awe and wonder of our world’s oceans and come together to save them!

But Why the Sense of Urgency?

I suspect that by now, we all feel like we’ve seen too many images of dying turtles caught in sea garbage, lone polar bears on a postage size piece of ice, and empty fishing nets pulled from the water. Most of us know the problems of overfishing and pollution are heading towards us like a distant freight train, but until I did my research for this article, I had no idea how close you and I are to impact.

Here are some elements of the situation that got my attention:

  • Two foundations of our planet are beginning the early signs of collapse: 70% of our planet’s oxygen is produced by tiny marine plants that are showing signs of struggle from ocean pollution 2 and other ocean microorganisms that support the base of our entire food chain are disappearing from key zones in oceans around the world. 3
  • Since the 1950s, there are now 500 vast regions in the open ocean and coastal regions have oxygen levels so low that they can be considered “dead zones” 4
  • Plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. 5 And 93% of it comes from only 10 rivers in the world. 6
  • For every swordfish pulled out of the North Atlantic, 10-12 blue sharks come with it and die an agonizing death. 7 (My family members used to order swordfish when we ate at the local seafood restaurant. Not anymore when I’m there to remind them of that statistic!)
  • The United Nations Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. 8
  • In the last 50 years, we have lost 90% of the big fish in the ocean due to industrial-level fishing. 9

I had no idea that things were so grave. Here are two photos from SeaLegacy’s archives that have haunted me since the day I saw them:

I know. I too had emotions bubble up that I never knew I had. Here’s what Cristina had to say in a piece she wrote for the National Geographic website  about taking that photo of the starving polar bear:

It was clear that, even if I had fed him the handful of nuts I had in my backpack, without sea ice from which to hunt, his prospects of survival would be slim. Polar bears rely on a platform of sea ice from which to hunt. Our fast-warming Arctic means that sea ice is disappearing for extended periods of time each year. That means many bears get stranded on land, where they can’t pursue their prey, which consists of seals, walrus, and whales, so they slowly starve to death. I know this image is disturbing but we have reached a time in the history of our planet in which we simply can no longer afford to look away.

— Cristina Mittermeier 10

But here’s the good news: SeaLegacy is giving us the opportunity to see tragic images like the ones above and then channel that emotion in a positive direction.

They have created a place for the world to turn sadness and fear into action!

#TurntheTide is Leading Change!

SeaLegacy has created a dynamic community around the fact that ordinary people, each in our own small way, can move the needle. With every “like”, share and re-tweet, we are in a better and better position to influence policy, industry and the new narrative every day.

#TurntheTide is a new movement that you and I can join and easily have an impact; a voice and a vehicle to be part of the progress needed to bring our oceans (and the entire planet) back to health.

It’s not too late. Big things are happening! Here’s a great introduction to SeaLegacy’s effort to turn the tide on our oceans:

This is a shining example of the positive potential of social media!

And the best part of this equation? SeaLegacy will not add to your sense of overwhelm. Rather, I’ve found the seeds of hope have been swelling in me since discovering their work. They have found that sweet spot between telling it like it is and celebrating what’s right with the world. It’s such a refreshing change!

SeaLegacy’s social media efforts is a gift to yourself as much as it is a gift to the world. You will never see such a collection of inspiring images and information. Every day promises that you can find three wonders before you’ve even eaten breakfast!

Here’s an example of the kind of uplifting and awe-inspiring vision and messages that 43,000+ people are finding on the SeaLegacy Facebook Page:

Photo by Shawn Heinrichs // We are excited to announce the next member of The Collective. Shawn Heinrichs is an Emmy…

Posted by SeaLegacy on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Their Twitter feed is going to make you feel like we are actually on the verge of turning the tide too. It’s not all doom and gloom. SeaLegacy’s retweets are very often signs of real progress or connections to things you and I can influence.

Oh, and if you prefer Instagram, this is the kind of wonder you’ll get over there

View this post on Instagram

Photo by @jasonsching // As a research scientist, I have spent the last 11 summers collecting data on all things related to sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay's watersheds – especially Iliamna Lake. Inspired by the endless views of pristine landscapes and the amazing story behind every sockeye salmon I observed, counted, and measured, I took to camera and lens to document and share the stories of this incredible place. A place that to this day remains as wild and untouched as it has always been, with salmon as the backbone supporting ecosystems, people, and ways of life. There aren't many hidden gems like Bristol Bay left in this world and I hope that my imagery helps to paint a larger picture of why it is worth our love, support, and attention. Tell US Congress to put a stop to Pebble Mine now before it is too late – link in bio. #NoPebbleMine #TurningTheTide #ExtinctionEndsHere

A post shared by SeaLegacy #TurningTheTide (@sealegacy) on

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
— Robert Swan, Author

Our World Needs Trusted Leaders

As we all begin to appreciate the wonder and complexities that our oceans offer us, perhaps we should pause to recognize the gravity of SeaLegacy’s ability to change the future. Who better to shine a light on reality, and then point to potential, than two vastly experienced artist/explorers like Mittermeier and Nicklen?

This could be one for the history books or the movie theaters one day!

You know those stories. The ones where ordinary people, with exactly the right stuff, accidentally meet and combine their efforts at just the right moment in time to save the day? We make epic films about those fortunate circumstances. History may someday recognize SeaLegacy’s impact as one of those stories.

After speaking to Cristina and reading about her work with her husband, Paul, it’s clear their commitment to knowledge and understanding over time is breathtaking and inspiring in its expression of real “mastery.” And all along, they’ve been ordinary people, from humble beginnings, like all of us, trying to do good work and raise a family. (They have 3 grown children who have been along for the journey.)

We are at a time when we need people exactly like Mittermeier and Nicklen to lead us in a new direction together.

Image: Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen laying in tall grass smiling

Source: SeaLegacy

Someday, when our oceans have recovered from tragic overfishing and crippling pollution, we will tell the story of the many courageous and inspiring cornerstone efforts to save our oceans. SeaLegacy will surely be one of the leaders.

This last video will start you on your own journey of wonder and impact through SeaLegacy’s breathtaking vision of possibility:

Ah, it’s a breathtaking era of hope, folks. We can get there and maybe, it’s the completion of a circle.

Want to spend some time enjoying something worthy of your attention? There is a playlist on SeaLegacy’s YouTube Channel that feels a little like you’ve suddenly walked through the looking glass into a world that was always there (and I do mean always, but we’ll get to that in a few minutes).

How SeaLegacy is a Leader in The Conspiracy of Goodness

Our aim here at Ever Widening Circles is to change the negative dialogue about our times. And SeaLegacy’s vision and impact are doing that in spades!

We seem to be on exactly the same page with its founders when it comes to finding solutions to this media overload of negativity. In my conversation with Cristina, she shared an insight that speaks to the real problem with the 24-hour news cycle. She said, “A sense of helplessness is paralyzing, but people just are not being informed. Great things are happening all the time, and we aren’t even aware of them.”

I could not agree more. In the course of our work at Ever Widening Circles, we have been curating the internet for progress since 2014. In fact, we’ve published over a thousand articles about the insight and innovation going uncelebrated. (Many people visit us daily for their dose of positive news!)  And we are seeing so much to be optimistic about! In fact, that’s what the Ever Widening Circles’ movement called #ConspiracyofGoodness is all about! Check it out!

There is a great wave of progress coming and it’s thought leaders are ushering in a new day that we are calling the “gratitude economy.” Scroll to the bottom of this article or down our homepage and you’ll find there is a whole world of goodness happening that almost no one knows much about. It’s actually an exciting time!

The people who are joining the SeaLegacy community are a part of an important movement. They are at the forefront of a wave of progress and gratitude that will soon be the norm.

Starting Your Own Journey of Impact

“The best way to feel hopeful is by actually taking action on something, but people do not know where to begin.” — Cristina Mittermeier

Here’s somewhere wonderful to begin! SeaLegacy does an amazing job taking us on our own unique “impact journeys”. They make sure we know how our small contribution—like, share, tweet or donation—from our desk in Kansas, Eastern Europe or Cambodia, is actually moving things forward. Their passion for communication lets us know that our small part is super important and it is working!

It’s a great day when we discover good people doing great things. SeaLegacy’s potential to change the future for all of us is something to celebrate!

The Collective moves us through the emotions that mean the most to us. They capture moments of awe, kinship, surprise, purpose, and empowerment. Dropping us off at the doorstep of feeling like we can personally have a big impact on the future.

Stay open, optimistic and curious!

~ Dr. Lynda Ulrich

We’re looking for funding!

Know of great companies looking to support forward-thinking media? Have ideas for grants and fundraising? Do you have any ideas or introductions you can make for us to get closer to funding? Please let us know! We need your help supporting Ever Widening Circles! Email us directly at hellothere@everwideningcircles.com

Notes:

  1. SeaLegacy. “SeaLegacy – The Thin Blue Line.” Vimeo, SeaLegacy, 25 Aug. 2015, vimeo.com/137293533. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  2. Simon, Matt. “Now Ocean Plastics Could Be Killing Oxygen-Making Bacteria.” Wired, Conde Nast, 17 May 2019, www.wired.com/story/ocean-plastics-bacteria/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  3. McKie, Robin. “How Disappearing Sea Ice Has Put Arctic Ecosystem under Threat.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 4 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/04/arctic-ecosystem-ice-disappear-ecosystem-polar-bears-fish. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  4. UNESCO. “Facts and Figures on Marine Pollution: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” UNESCO, UNESCO, www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/ioc-oceans/focus-areas/rio-20-ocean/blueprint-for-the-future-we-want/marine-pollution/facts-and-figures-on-marine-pollution/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  5. UNESCO. “Facts and Figures on Marine Pollution: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” UNESCO, UNESCO, www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/ioc-oceans/focus-areas/rio-20-ocean/blueprint-for-the-future-we-want/marine-pollution/facts-and-figures-on-marine-pollution/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  6. Patel, Prachi. “Stemming the Plastic Tide: 10 Rivers Contribute Most of the Plastic in the Oceans.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 1 Feb. 2018, www.scientificamerican.com/article/stemming-the-plastic-tide-10-rivers-contribute-most-of-the-plastic-in-the-oceans/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  7. Baggaley, Kate. “The World’s Fastest Shark Is in Trouble.” Popular Science, Popular Science, 10 Oct. 2017, www.popsci.com/worlds-fastest-shark-is-in-trouble/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  8. UNESCO. “Facts and Figures on Marine Pollution: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.” UNESCO, UNESCO, www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/ioc-oceans/focus-areas/rio-20-ocean/blueprint-for-the-future-we-want/marine-pollution/facts-and-figures-on-marine-pollution/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  9. Walton, Marsha. “Study: Only 10 Percent of Big Ocean Fish Remain.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 May 2003, www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/05/14/coolsc.disappearingfish/. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  10. Mittermeier, Cristina G. “Starving Polar Bear Photographer Explains Why She Couldn’t Help.” Cristina Mittermeier on Climate Change and Helping the Starving Polar Bear, 11 Dec. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2017/12/mittermeier-polar-bear-starving-climate-change/. Accessed 15 July 2019.
  11. SeaLegacy. “Join The Tide to Create Healthy and Abundant Oceans.” YouTube, SeaLegacy, 13 Feb. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9NCh2cpcAQ#action=share. Accessed 9 July 2019.
  12. SeaLegacy. “Impact Stories – A Look Ahead.” YouTube, SeaLegacy, 21 Dec. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=AynFiEEs51s&list=PL5J9y3i1xov2gLGH51sK36b7ABviXGaBH&index=10. Accessed 9 July 2019.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.