I also refused to dissect as part of this course. I remember the teacher pulling me out in the hallway and telling me I was a big baby! She kept saying I was acting like a baby, that I would never be able to be a marine biologist, and that I had to dissect. Of course I didn’t.
When I went to college, I was still planning on being a marine biologist and so when I started my first day of the biology class, I explained to the professor that I did not plan on dissecting and asked that he provide me with something else to do. I did tell him about the alternatives that existed at that time.
Recently, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Mission Blue. I played it in the background as I worked, figuring this was another documentary about people exploring the ocean. But as I started to catch bits and pieces, I realized it was about a woman exploring the ocean. Then, in response to a question, I heard her say, “I don’t eat fish.” Sorry for the pun, but I was hooked.
That woman is oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle.
As I know not everyone has access to Netflix, I just wanted to share some of this film and why she inspired me.
In an interview she is asked if she is radical about protecting the oceans. I loved her response, as I could truly relate to it. She said that if she seemed like a radical it might be because she sees things others do not (as she has spent thousands of hours diving), and that if others had the opportunity to see what she has seen, along with the perspective she has gained, she would not seem like a radical.
Dr. Earle, who is now 83, talks about how much the world has changed in her lifetime which makes it more real and, of course, sad.
She said that 60 years ago people did not believe that we could harm the ocean, which puts those barrels I saw in the film being dumped into perspective. This seems so hard for me to believe, but we have had such ignorant rationalizations regarding our treatment of not only this planet and of non-human animals but also our treatment of humans.
Even the filmmaker talks about not knowing who she was before he saw her speak, and that is a huge reason why I am writing this blog.
Young girls and women need to know about her and her work.
As a proud Chicanx who feels robbed about not learning about my people and my culture growing up (only having learned white colonist history), I also feel robbed about not knowing about many women leaders and activists.
I was annoyed during parts of the documentary as she was asked about her previous marriages, how they ended, if she had children, and how she balanced her passion and her family. I feel as if I rarely hear men asked about balancing their lives.
The documentary also showed how the media focused on her being a woman on her explorations with coverage quotes such as “70 men and one woman” or “five women and one blow dryer.”
One of my favorite exchanges:
I love that she didn’t sugarcoat things.
Discussing BP’s oil spill in the Gulf, she talks about how frustrating and agonizing it was to watch because she was aware of all that was there.
It is one thing to want to explore the oceans and share with others who live there, but it is so much more important to fight for them.
She also talks about the need to not kill these animals for any reason:
She went to a fish market where there were rows and rows of tuna. You could tell in her face that she was pained and talked about them being babies.
And we know why, right? She got to know the fish. Just like many people get to know dogs, cats, and bunnies. When we get to know them, we see their personalities and we get to know how they react when they are happy and when they are in pain.
To think of all the sea critters who are killed by the billions.
If you live near a sea shore, grab a bucket and some friends and spend a few hours cleaning up to help the ocean and all who live there!
As someone who has never lived close to the ocean, I understand that you might not live near one, either —so clean up the lakes, streams, and rivers.
F.E.P. will be organizing a clean-up in the North Bay, and we hope you can join us!
If you want others to join you, let us know (info (at)foodispower.org) and we will create a list of locations to post on our website.
2. Stop eating creatures from the ocean!
These animals suffer tremendously and we MUST do our part to stop the suffering we inflict on them (and all animals) and the ocean. Please stop eating them.
Commercial fishing: https://foodispower.org/commercial-fishing/
3. Learn more about Dr. Earle’s organization Mission Blue and their goal to have 20%