At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we believe that helping people fall in love with ocean life is a powerful channel through which they can become active protectors of the ocean.
The idea's not unique with us. The great quote by Senegalese environmental leader Baba Dioum sums it up well: "In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."
So, how to foster a culture in which love of the ocean and its creatures is a social norm?
The folks at UCLA's Fowler Museum are giving it a try this summer and it's wild!
It starts with an exhibit of spiritual/ethnographic art about the African water goddesses called Mami Wata, offers a film festival that includes the likes of The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Secret of Roan Inish and Splash, and mixes in a series of children's art workshops with ocean themes.
The end result is something that could -- just maybe -- help to change our consciousness about the ocean.
In any case, it looks like a lot of fun. I haven't seen Mr. Limpet since I was a kid, but I remember it as a fun film -- a blend of live action with animation as Mr. Limpet transforms from man into cartoon fish and helps battle German submarines during World War II.
I'll miss that movie, since it screens at high noon on Wednesday, July 9. But I'll be down in L.A. with my 8-year-old son in a couple of weeks. I definitely plan to check the Fowler programs out. I hope to see you there!
(Mami Wata painting by Zoumana Sane, courtesy the Fowler Museum)