The interdependence of human society and the ocean is a theme that encompasses global environmental, political, and social interactions. The ocean provides endless direct, and indirect, goods and services that benefit all humanity, from the rich protein of fish to oxygen creation and carbon storage. Yet our false conceptions of the “renewable” water cycle and that there are “always more fish in the sea”, lead us to overfish and pollute our oceans.
A recent graduate from Tulane University, I hold a dual degree in Economics (B.S.) and Political Economy (B.A.)… not your typical degrees for learning how to save the oceans. My research lies in the field of “environmental economics,” where I investigate “true” values for marine conservation. Instead of just looking at the market prices for fish, I asked people how much they value marine life, either as food on their plate or as something they know lives and exists in the ocean. My undergraduate thesis proposed the following question to over 1,000 U.S. citizens nationwide: “what would you be willing to pay for a program that would protect marine biodiversity and habitats in the Gulf of Mexico?” The results? Well… more on this later…
For now, I am working as a summer intern, and as the U.S. Coordinator, for the new Cousteau Divers Headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. I am also training to become a PADI Dive Master. On the weekends, I explore the rich biodiversity and habitats along the coast of Florida through diving. During the week, I spend my hours researching and meeting with other knowledgeable individuals to find ways of promoting the protection of marine life. For starters, I am designing a data collection method that any diver, or snorkeler, could use to record and upload their observations to the Cousteau Divers website. With the help of some students from the Canterbury School, I am sure this will become an educational tool for both the divers and those following the data uploaded to the site.
When the BP Oil Disaster happened in 2010, we had no idea what the long-term effects would be, what the immediate and long-term socio-economic costs would be. While the oil and dispersants are no longer visible, we still don’t have any idea as to what the long-term effects may be. This incident highlights the importance of having an established monitoring system and baseline understanding of marine ecosystems, so that when an accident does occur, we can better understand and respond to the impact.
I hope that divers, snorkelers, and just regular people throughout the Gulf coast and Caribbean will participate in and contribute to the Cousteau Divers program, so that we can better understand the health of our ecosystems and be better empowered to protect and restore them.
This blog serves as a space where I can talk about ongoing projects, and problems, in the Gulf of Mexico. Where I can post photographs and videos of what I find during my underwater adventures this summer. I also hope to turn it into a resource for anyone hoping to make a more positive impact on our oceans.