Blue Vision Summit: Hill Day

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By Kaiya Whitehead

A key component of the Blue Vision Summit in Washington D.C. is Hill Day where participants talk to their federal Senators and Representatives. The Inland Ocean Coalition showed up in force with a delegation of fourteen. The group consisted of Colorado residents as well as chapter leads and members from around the country and a resident of Canada. As an inland delegation, we began the day on the Senatorial side of the Capitol and ended the day in the House buildings.

We met with staff members from the following offices: Cory Gardner (R-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Dana DeGette (D-CO), and Doug Lamborne (R-CO). The meeting agenda’s varied based on the audience, but in general, we discussed: plastic pollution, offshore oil drilling, joining the Ocean Caucus, the threatened Antiquities Act and protecting National Marine Sanctuaries. We addressed specific house and senate bills depending on whether we were speaking with Senators or Representatives. With a majority of legislative aids, we covered the Save Our Seas Act, the Trash Reduction Act, and/or the proposed drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

The Save our Seas Act was introduced by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). It is a bill to reauthorize and amend the Marine Debris Act in order to promote international action to reduce marine debris and encourage the leadership to interact internationally to address plastic pollution. The examination of the Monuments under the Antiquities Act, initiated by President Trump, endangers many marine monuments: The Marianas Trench, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Pacific Remote Islands, Papahanaumokuakea, and Rose Atoll. The delegation asked all members of Congress with whom we spoke to vote against the de-designation of the ocean monuments.

The Trash Reduction Act is currently in the House and involves “carry-out” bags. The federal government has begun to enforce a ban on bans, taking away the ability of states to ban plastic bags. In our meetings, the delegation asked that representatives give the power back to the people and allow the decision to be made on a local level.

In specific meetings, the delegation did not discuss offshore drilling because research into previous voting records indicated that it would be pointless. With this approach, our meetings were productive, civil, and encouraging.

Senator Cory Gardner was not willing to join the Ocean Caucus, is supportive of offshore drilling, but wanted to learn more about the Save Our Seas Act, and said it had been brought to their attention before. The aid in Senator John McCain’s office took notes on the ocean caucus, may be in support of voting against offshore drilling for National Security reasons, and was interested in the Save Our Seas Act. The aid for Senator Michael Bennet listened intently, and shared our concerns, and requested that the Inland Ocean Coalition stay in touch. Senator Gary Peters from Michigan is a member of the Ocean Caucus, is co-sponsoring the Save Our Seas Act, is against offshore drilling, is interested in learning more about plastics, and is aware of the importance of inland communities in ocean conservation. With Representative Scott Tipton’s aid, the coalition focused mainly on plastics, and there was little interest; he did, however, take notes because of the bipartisan nature of the Save Our Seas Act, and suggested that the Inland Ocean Coalition begin to lobby our states for the Trash Reduction Act. Representative Jared Polis is a member of the Ocean Caucus, is against offshore drilling, was interested in creating a house version of the Save Our Seas Act, but needs a Republican to cosponsor the bill. He is an ocean advocate and an ocean champion! Representative Ed Perlmutter wants to shrink his caucus list so he will not be joining Ocean Caucus. His voting record, however, is aligned with the values of the delegation, and he requested to be kept apprised of the Inland Ocean Coalition’s actions going forward and to be a newsletter recipient. Representative Dana Dugette is completely aligned with the values of the Inland Ocean Coalition and wants to join the Ocean Caucus. The last meeting of the day was with a legislative aid of Representative Doug Lamborn. The delegation only discussed plastics and preserving the monuments currently under review. We had a productive discussion regarding how to incentivize people to reduce their plastic bag use. The aid was more aligned with offering rewards for bringing one’s own bag, rather than penalizing plastic bag use in the form of a tax. He was also in support of reevaluating the preservation of monuments.

Overall it was a fun, informative, and energizing day. Given the current political climate, it is even more important that coalitions like ours stand up and make sure we are heard. It was a great reminder that the United States is a democracy and individuals matter. The ocean is rising, but so are we.

Blue Vision Summit

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By Christine Evans

Fourteen members of the Inland Ocean Coalition attended the Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC, from May 8-11. The biennial Summit brings together ocean conservation leaders and advocates from around the world. The key areas of the action agenda for the 2017 Summit were:

  • Putting an end to offshore drilling by 2030
  • Ridding the ocean of plastic and other forms of pollution
  • Building coastal resiliency through smart ecosystem-based planning

The Summit included the largest Healthy Ocean Hill Day in US history, with over 150 people participating from 25 states.

The Summit opened with a screening of Chasing Coral on Monday night, followed by a day of panels on Tuesday. Panels included topics like stopping offshore oil drilling, engaging corporations in solutions to plastic pollution, the future of fish and fishing, the inland ocean movement, marine protected areas, ocean acidification and the blue economy.

Sylvia Earle giving part of the keynote address.

Blue Vision Summit Panels 

Sylvia Earle was among those to give the keynote address, which was followed by an opening plenary entitled “Ocean Strategy Under Trump,” featuring Ralph Nader and three other panelists. Nader told the audience that politicians don’t know how to game the system when liberals and conservatives unite, and protecting our ocean and coastlines is such a unifying issue. Ocean conservation unites civic, commercial, recreational and environmental interests.

Nader also discussed how having less than 1% of the population engaged on an issue reflecting the majority opinion is enough to turn things around. If a movement has a right/left alliance and engages less than 1% of people, the movement will be successful.

Panelist John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium, said that we must resist the current administration’s policies and stand up for science, while also encouraging a more collaborative conservation atmosphere, for this is “not a time for silos and competition.” Farah Obaidullah, Founder & Director of Women4Oceans, said we know what we need to do, we have the solutions, and we need to reach people everywhere. There isn’t one message or one messenger that’s going to reach everyone. She said her main message is that you don’t have to be a marine biologist or work for an organization to make a difference.

From left to right: Moderator Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ralph Nader, John Racanelli, Farah Obaidullah, and Chad Nelson.

Surfrider Foundation CEO Chad Nelsen said that he is optimistic, because our policies are popular, unlike the policies being put forward by this administration. Furthermore, people are more interested in getting active than he has ever seen. He compared resisting the policies of this administration to running a sprint and a marathon – there are the short-term issues that we must address – for instance the review of many terrestrial and marine monuments – while also not losing sight of the longer haul – like putting an end to offshore drilling and plastic pollution.

Moderator Ayana Elizabeth Johnson of Ocean Collectiv then asked each of the panelists, “What is your sprint and what is your marathon?”

Marathons included creating an urban conservation ethic as 85% of Americans now live in cities, making this movement akin to the NRA of the ocean in order to make politicians think twice before passing harmful legislation, and increasing the participation of women globally in ocean conservation in order to harness our full potential as a species. Obaidullah said she meets more women working on ocean issues, but at conferences it’s mostly men. It is women, however, who tend to think about the future more, while men are more focused on providing in the here and now. It’s not a good idea, she said, to leave out the half of the population that is most concerned about and interested in the future.

Want to get involved?

Call your members of Congress. Encourage them to do the following:

  • Vote against any bill or amendment that significantly cuts funding to NOAA and the EPA
  • Vote against any bill or amendment to expand offshore oil and gas drilling
  • Support the bi-partisan S. 756 Save Our Seas Act in the Senate
    • Introduce a House version of S. 756

Sign this letter in support of marine sanctuaries.

Healthy Oceans Coalition Advocacy Training

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Eight inland Ocean Coalition members just returned from an energetic, two-day Healthy Ocean (HOC) advocacy training in Chicago. The HOC is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to building awareness of how the National Ocean Policy (NOP) supports our nation’s ability to manage these shared resources. Our goal was to gain a deeper understanding of how our inland work relates to the NOP, and to acquire practical tools to become more effective at describing our work to government decision makers, and others.

Early in the training, two Utah Inland Ocean Coalition members, each within weeks of graduating from college, set the pace for participation by volunteering first for a rigorous exercise in how to effectively brief a US Senator. The Illinois Ocean Coalition provided a thoughtful analysis of how citizen science data regarding plastic pollution in small lakes is being used by state and local decision-makers. The Colorado Ocean Coalition used the training to think thru best social media practices as it continues to expand awareness of “summit-to-sea” issues from a single to a multi-state organization.

All participants at the training gained respect for how the organizers of National Ocean Policy involved numerous parties – from the military, to the Coast Guard, commercial fisherman, investors in offshore wind and oil, town officials, democrats, republications, unaffiliated voters, not-for-profit organizations, citizens, and others, from multiple regions of the country. It was particularly intriguing to learn how these groups identified raw data important to their enterprises and to understand how the NOP organized the data into user-friendly maps. The data is intended to support natural resource allocation decisions to improve the outcome for all parties. For a quick glimpse into one of the region’s user-friendly data portals click here.

The participation of the Inland Ocean Coalition was made possible by the support and superb staffing of the Healthy Ocean Coalition and the American Littoral Society.

Biomass by sea and by land

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The ocean provides for us. It provides the air we breathe from photosynthesizing algae, the seafood we buy and sell, and the recreational tourism and educational opportunities which are boundless for business owners and educational networks. How much time do we spend thinking about, or informing others, about what the ocean gives us? Did you know the ocean may one day provide a sustainable form of renewable energy? There is incredible research being conducted and many results already shared in the scientific community about garnering alternative energy sources from the ocean, especially that of using algae as a biofuel.


The horizons of funding, studying, and collaborating about sustainable and renewable energy sources have grown consistently within the last two decades. Researchers from many esteemed universities such as MIT, Kansas State University, UC San Diego, Texas A&M, and Colorado State University, plus many more, are actively seeking solutions to meet the demand of finding these energy sources and establishing sustainable supply chains from extraction to sale.


“New research could help with the large-scale cultivation and manufacturing of oil-rich algae in oceans for biofuel.” (ScienceDaily)


“Photosynthetic marine algae are attractive targets for the production of biofuels and bio-products because they have the ability to capture and fix carbon dioxide using solar energy and they grow in seawater, thereby minimizing fresh water usage.” (ScienceDirect)

What the research referenced above explains is crucial to how we stand up for the protection of ocean health, whether we live on the coastline or not. Amazing amounts of biomass exist in our world’s oceans, just as a forest does. These varieties of biomass are the frontier of renewable energy research and practice. In fact, scientists and educators from our state’s very own Colorado State University are part of a regional alliance called Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies (BANR). Focused on researching how forest biomass can serve as feedstock for biofuels, BANR looks at ways beetle-killed tree biomass can contribute to a sustainable regional renewable energy industry.


BANR is funded by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Coordinated Agricultural Projects through Agricultural and Food Research Initiative (USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP) grants. Say that 3x fast! These are currently 7 funded grant projects across the US. How proud we can be of CSU leading collaboration of this national and global initiative in our own backyard! 


So – what’s the connection between oceans and forests, you may ask? Why bother writing about the two in the same blog post about sustainable energy? I’m glad you asked!  If you look back to the first paragraph of this post, I think you can easily replace oceans with forest, and algae with trees, and seafood with timber, and so on. Our seas and our lands are bound intrinsically to humans as a resource – what we do to explore, learn from, and sustain them is up to us.


If you are an interested in attending a conference this May in Seattle about Biofuels and Energy Literacy, please see more at:  NARA Conference, SeaTac, May 3-4,2016  

More information about the excellent projects and organizations referenced in this post can be found at the following:

Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies 

USDA-NIFA AFRI CAP grant programs



Sarah Burgess is currently working as a Research Naturalist for University Wisconsin-Extension, and looks forward to transitioning back to the Rockies later this summer. Her thoughts and musings can be followed at BurgessAdventures.

From Mountain to Shining Sea

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From Mountain  Rocky-Mountains2 to Shining Sea


There are many reasons to care for the ocean. Whether you live on beachfront property, or high in the mountains of beautiful Colorado. No matter where your exact latitude and longitude is, the oceans affect your daily life. The ocean is a vast expanse of organisms, all working together to create a place that I call my home away from home. Some people think of the ocean as an object- a place where constant waves can bring you on a joy ride to shore. Other people think of the ocean as a food source- the place where their oh-so-delicious dinner came from. And then, there are those who think of the ocean as a miraculous, incomprehensible place that brightens your day, or better yet, enlightens your world. Any way that you view the ocean, there is more to it than the human mind can seek. While some wake up to a constant reminder of the environmentally degrading processes that happen on a daily basis, some of us wake up to a crystal clear world disguised by pristine mountains. There have been questions about why it would be important for someone who lives in Colorado to care about the oceans, and my answer is rather long and complex. So, to break it down quite simply, I am going to list what I have compiled as my top 10 reasons to care for the ocean from experience:

  1. I love animals- in fact, orcas are my absolute favorite animal- I want to be able to see them one day (Soon, preferably)
  2. I’m actually a fish disguised as a human- I live in the water, I need the water, I want the water. All the time. Which is quite difficult since I’m not presently living in the Carboniferous era- although I do wish from time to time that the sea would reappear in Colorado.
  3. There is something so incredibly peaceful about walking up on the beach, being seconds away from the cold water touching your toes- and marveling at the forces that are causing the water to beg at your feet.
  4. The blueness- talk about being awestruck- bluer than the eyes of a blonde girl in every country song
  5. It holds so many organisms that my human brain would not be able to comprehend every single organism that it nurtures- although, challenge accepted
  6. It contributes to the climate of our entire planet- that amazing rain you’re listening to- yeah, thank the ocean
  7. It contains the cycle of life within it- WITHIN it- one of the most amazing and inspiring moments of my life was watching a leatherback sea turtle (which happens to be endangered) lay her eggs and go back into the ocean- if you’re interested, look up the Royal Caribbean resorts in Cancun and their effort to help save the sea turtle population

                                  **Fun fact: female sea turtles find their way back to the beach they were born on, by using Earth’s magnetic                                        field, to lay their own eggs. You can read a little more about this here. 

  1. It is acting as a landfill-when it shouldn’t be- and causing harm to its organisms
  2. It covers more surface area than the land we, humans, take up- times two.
  3. It doesn’t just get its strength from its mussels- waves and tides are the strongest forces on Earth. Therefore, the ocean is strong. Strong enough to fight against all of the dangerous chemicals and objects we are polluting into it’s beautiful waters.

Now that I have been a part of the amazing organization, Colorado Ocean Coalition, I have learned even more about how important it is to save the oceans, especially when you’re inland. The two main things that I have learned are the ways to help protect the oceans. One: Watch what you do. Even if you live no where near the ocean, the river lying adjacent to your house leads to the ocean. With that said, any piece of trash, or any chemicals put into that river, will be deposited into the oceans. Two: outreach. I have met more people recently than ever before who have asked me why the oceans are in trouble. And it’s disturbing to realize that some people don’t understand more than their eyes can see. Provide outreach to your local community about why it is important for us, inlanders, to deposit of our trash responsibly, and take further steps to protect our oceans. The most vulnerable creatures on Earth aren’t the animals eating our trash, but us as humans, not being able to come together and protect those animals from our own nature.


Become our next Administrator Coordinator!

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Colorado Ocean Coalition Administrative Coordinator Position

Boulder, CO


Job Description

The Colorado Ocean Coalition (COCO), a project of The Ocean Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) seeks an experienced part time Administrative Coordinator. COCO is a rapidly growing socially responsible organization with a strong emphasis on collaboration and community outreach with a mission, “To inspire an inland community to be stewards of our ocean.”


The Administrative Coordinator will work from their home & the COCO office in Boulder, CO approximately 20 hours/week to provide all aspects of non-profit administration and support. The position may grow to full time.


Duties and Responsibilities

  • Heavy emphasis on healthy, open-book operation and management
  • Oversee bi-monthly newsletter: co-write, layout and mail
  • Maintain COCO MailChimp activities
  • Manage COCO contracts and licenses
  • Assist in event planning, i.e. Blue Drinks, fundraising, and social events
  • Administer database – maintenance and data entry
  • Manage Website including updates, calendar, and new information
  • Assist with grant submissions and grant tracking
  • Supervise a selected intern and/or a job specific volunteer
  • Coordinate accounting activities and participate in COCO wide budget planning and management
  • Support COCO Advisory Board activities and implementation plans



  • Must be computer savvy and proficient in Word Press, Mail Chimp, social media platforms, excel and Donor Relationship Management software
  • Positive attitude, resourceful approach, and comfortable with a highly collaborative work environment
  • Self-starter, able to initiate work, complete tasks, pay attention to detail and meet deadlines with minimum supervision
  • Ability to juggle multiple projects with superb accuracy and a smile
  • Keen interest in environmental/watershed/ocean stewardship
  • Strong administrative and database management skills
  • Excellent written and verbal skills
  • Bachelor’s degree or several years of work experience in this field


Please submit a cover letter, resume, and 3 references with contact information by July 3rd, to Please make the subject line: “AdminCoordCOCO”

Hourly rate $17/hour

The Blue Ocean Summit

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Register/ Sign in to The Blue Ocean Business Summit and learn about what is damaging the ocean and how we can fix it! The Blue Ocean Business Summit is a free, virtual experience that streams online until June 19, 2015. The first few sessions include talks on solutions for the ocean, changing business models to become more sustainable, coral reefs and what exactly is affecting them, and how to provide outreach to those who aren’t aware of the everyday issues we encounter.  It also includes the insights of the ocean from those who have spent over 50 years diving the vast expanses of diverse marine life. These talks feature many of our most fearless ocean leaders, including our very own Vicki Goldstein, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Dr. Sylvia Earle and many more. They offer up to an hour of how our oceans are being depleted, as well as innovative advice on how to reduce the detriment the oceans are experiencing. Vicki offers an interview discussing one of her new collective initiatives, Blue the Dive, and how the efforts for this program will in turn help save our marvelous blue waters. An inland movement is a very important movement, as many who live mountainside only see the pristine wilderness around them. What most do not realize is that what we deposit in our waterways high up in the mountains of Colorado will eventually find its way to our coastal waterways, and therefore the ocean. Fortunately, Boulder is a rather advanced and environmentally aware location, although outreach needs to be provided for those who are unlike the Boulder area. Many of us who enjoy our log homes on the top of hills also love to explore the cold, salty water that is ever so slightly drawing us to move away from our pristine environments. In order to continue to reach new depths on our dives, we need to be aware of how our daily lives are affecting areas further away than we expected. With that said, Vicki discusses her newest collaborative initiative, Blue the Dive, and how the outreach that this effort provides will spread throughout the diving community.


Blue the Dive is a collaborative effort within the diving community to provide education and outreach on sustainable ways to dive. The main idea of Blue the Dive is for dive shops and dive instructors to sign the pledge, which states the following, as provided by

  1. Improve dive industry sustainability and conservation practices
  2. Create a more informed and educated consumer to improve the way our communities interact with the ocean
  3. Improve dive industry manufacturing and supply chain sustainability business practices to reduce waste and increase efficiencies and profits
  4. Support scientific research and actions that protect our ocean resources


Ways that these goals can be reached include, and are not limited to:

  1. Stay in an eco-friendly hotel if scuba diving further from home
  2. Volunteer to dive and help an organization with research- (Reef Environmental Education Foundation offers fish survey and lionfish research trips for scuba divers)
  3. Don’t feed the organisms in the water
  4. Dispose of trash found in water properly
  5. Reduce your single use plastic


Picture saved from
Picture saved from

 Talk to your local dive shop about what “blue-ing” the dive means to them, and how they can partake in this headstrong initiative! Take this short survey here to let us know!

 Also looking to get a little more inspiration? Read this blog from the initiative, Ban the Bottle, to learn how you can help keep our oceans safe, and celebrate World Oceans Month!





Happy World Oceans Month!

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We have seen so much improvement since the proposal of World Oceans Day in 1991 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The first World Oceans Day was declared by the United Nations in December 2008, to be the date of June 8th, and since then we have continued to celebrate the beauty of the oceans, and the innovative and inspiring ideas of our ocean leaders. Although, on May 29, 2015, President Barack Obama declared that for 2015, June would be the World Oceans Month, therefore expanding our celebration and discussion of the impacts on the ocean. This also provides an incentive for fellow citizens to recognize that the oceans are in grave danger, and provide their insight on how we can become a community of one (inlanders and coastal dwellers) in order to save our oceans. So, in light of President Barack Obama proclaiming that June will be World Oceans Month (a whole month of ocean love- yay!) and being one whom loves to create lists, we have compiled a list of our favorite ways to help improve the ocean from inland areas, as well as coastal areas.  To read the full proclamation created by the President, click here.


Inlanders (mountaineers, plain-dwellers)

  1. Reduce plastic waste- use reusable bags
    1. Shop at Lucky’s Market for their Bag for Change and proceeds will go to one of the non-profits- including COCO!
    2. Personal tip: Many ocean-loving organizations are providing the public with reusable bags that are discounted for worlds ocean month, will show others that you care about the ocean, and also help support these amazing organizations in everything that they do!
  2. Use water bottles (Polar water bottles are a personal favorite), and reusable mugs!
    1. Personal tip: in order to decrease the chance of BPA leaking into your water bottle- especially during these hot months of summer- buy a water bottle made of glass, use mason jars (you can buy lids with straws designed to fit them at Target), or again- buy a Polar water bottle!
  3. Get involved in any of our four events that we are supporting! You can find a brief description in our newsletter, or below.
  4. Eat safe fish! To find a list of endangered species of fish due to overfishing that should not be consumed, go to this website!


  1. Organize a coastal trash pick-up in your area by clicking on this link
  2. Join an organization that provides outreach to those in your area on the status of our oceans and how we, as a community, can help!
  3. Reduce your plastic by reducing the use of plastic bags and plastic water bottles!
    1. Personal tip: use glass, or mason jars, especially during warmer months to eliminate the risk of BPA being leaked into your water!
    2. Buy reusable bags from an organization that you feel shares the same intrinsic ideal as you toward the ocean!
  4. Learn/ continue to scuba dive at a dive shop that practices eco-friendly ways, which are described in this article here  


Our Inspiring Events to Help Show Your Ocean Love:

  • Sea Love Be Love campaign- an invitation by one of our own ocean ambassadors, Danni Washington, to write a love letter to the sea in whichever presentation truly demonstrates your love! The love letter varies from photographs of the ocean, videos, written letters, etc. Describe to us how the ocean has incorporated moral value into your life! As an individual who has absolutely been impacted by the ocean, I invite you to look at my love letter to the sea, whether it serves as an example for yours, or maybe an inspiration for you to get out there and discover a connection with an amazing ecosystem.

IMG_7461Check out Danni’s campaign here.


  • Help save your favorite species by playing basketball! Blue Ocean Ball is a non-profit that offers you to help save the oceans by playing basketball. The leaders of this organization have come up with a way to create world-like basketballs, and I mean world-like in the way that the basketball is designed to look like a globe (cool!). Every dollar that is spent on their basketballs will contribute as funding for their program to lead the world into new, innovative ways to help save the oceans.
  • If you’re not so much of a love-letter writer, or basketball junky, we have another awe-inspiring event for you! Listen in on a free online Summit that includes 32 speakers from 13 countries. Their main discussion? How to create a diving experience similar to the ones we as ocean- adventurers love and hold near and dear to our hearts, while simultaneously minimizing the impact on the ocean.




Food, Water, and Air

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Food – Water – Air

These three things are the most basic and fundamental needs for human survival. And these three things begin with the ocean. Think it’s an exaggeration? The sea water covering two-thirds of our planet provides our food, water, and air—no matter where we live. And we could not survive without it. The dynamic ecosystems and health of the ocean cannot survive without our help, either. Humans have proven a powerful enough force to endanger that which we need most, but we also have the power to restore it.