Saving the Ocean One Bucket at a Time: Ted Danson and Oceana

Before he was a handsome young bartender at TV’s most famous bar, way back when he was a young child on a family visit to the ocean, Ted Danson had a recurring nightmare in which God told him to collect the whole ocean into a bucket (using a slotted spoon, to boot) in one hour or the world would explode. Fortunately, Danson got over the nightmares but that feeling of Earthly responsibility never left him. In fact, Danson spent the last 25 years actively working on the environmental challenges facing our oceans, most notably by founding Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization in the world.

Danson has just released Oceana, a book that “details his journey from joining a modest local protest in the mid-1980s to oppose offshore oil drilling near his Southern California neighborhood to his current status as one of the world’s most influential oceanic environmental activists.” According to the book’s website, Danson merges personal essays (including the oceanic nightmare mentioned above) and informative graphs and charts to illustrate “what has happened to our oceans in just the past half century, ranging from the ravages of overfishing and habitat destruction to the devastating effects of ocean acidification and the wasteful horrors of fish farms.”

The book also includes essays from some of the world’s most respected authorities in the fields of marine science, commercial fishing and environmental law, including influential activists like GRACE’s own Scott Cullen, whose contribution focuses on the potential of Recirculating Aquaculture Systems.

Danson has made numerous in-person, radio and television appearances promoting Oceana, but if you are in the New York metro area we highly recommend you see both him and oceanographic legend Dr. Sylvia Earle at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on April 20th. Dr. Earle has logged over 7,000 hours underwater so she has quite a few well-informed thoughts on the current state and future of the world’s oceans. For a sneak preview, be sure to watch her TED Prize speech from 2009.

The timing of Oceana’s release couldn’t be better since it coincides with this year’s National Environmental Education Week on April 10-16. This year’s theme is “Ocean Connections,” and you can go to the EE Week site and register to join thousands of educators for a week of learning about our dependence on the ocean. As stated on their site, “No matter how far from the coast, water in every stream or river on the planet eventually ends up in the ocean, and all life on Earth is dependent upon its health.”

No matter where you live, make a commitment to learn about the condition of our oceans and find out what you can do to help them recover. Read Oceana, listen to Danson and Earle or participate in Environmental Education Week so you can share the importance of the world’s oceans with the children in your life.. Protecting the health of the oceans and understanding our dependence on them is critical to achieving environmental sustainability. Maybe next year you'll be an Ocean Hero.