I believe that human beings are inextricably linked with the ocean. I further believe that the link between the oceans and our daily lives is both physical and spiritual.
As an oceanographer and educator, this link is manifest strongly in my daily life and I have never been comfortable living in places too far from the sea. As a scientist, I know that life first came from the sea, its buffered chemistry a perfect medium to sustain the first cells, and that the ocean is mimicked in the fluids that bathe each of our human cells today. My body duplicates the sea at my most vulnerable moments — from the internal sea of salty amniotic fluid that bathed and protected me as I developed inside my mother’s womb to the tears that cleanse my eyes, divulge my pain, and reveal my soul, I carry the ocean with me.
While nurturing, the ocean is anything but comfortable, it can be dangerous and terrifying, mystical and invigorating, docile and yielding and yet, despite its alien nature to our land-centric lives, it also provides me with support. Each day, I look upon the ocean from my office window. I have smiled as I watched the ocean become alive with the joyous frolicking of dolphins, and I have lamented upon the view of countless thousands of floating dead fish. Terrified, I have sailed its waters in monster waves as big as apartment buildings and, bored I have floated, becalmed, days from the nearest land. Yet, without the ocean, I am not complete. I gain a spiritual strength from the ocean as generation upon generation of other people has done before me.
Throughout recorded history and across cultural boundaries, the mystical and powerful essence of the ocean has secured for it central roles in popular stories and spiritual teachings. I believe that people are as drawn to the ocean today as they have been since the beginning of mankind. From my office, I see people drawn to the oceans. They come from Kansas and Oklahoma and Montana as eagerly as they come from California or South Carolina or Delaware. These people come to the marine laboratory and aquarium where I work, and they are filled with wonder about our oceans. Many strive to see the ocean even just once in their lives. They come back to the ocean. Like my need, they too, come to be near the ocean, to be a part of it, in it as it is in them. I believe people come because they are inextricably linked to the ocean, and I believe that through the ocean we are inextricably linked to one another.
Scientifically, I believe in one ocean and, spiritually, in one human community. I believe our link to the ocean — and to one another represents a key to our continued success as a species. I come to work every day to explore ways to help people to see this link, to the ocean, to the earth, to one another. This I believe.