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Section Update: Marine

On February 12, the nearest working day to Valentine’s Day, SCB's Marine Section hosted the inaugural Heart the Oceans Day. A call to members in late 2015 had asked marine conservationists around the world to organize events to spread love for the oceans. It was hoped that such events would help introduce the public to important marine conservation issues. The Marine Section members did not disappoint! Many events were hosted on February 12 and some lasted the whole of Valentine’s week.

In Saudi Arabia, Matthew Tietbhol of the Section’s Communications Committee helped to organise a weeklong programme of events at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The highlight was a film festival where Mexico PelagicoDesert Seas, and marine-themed TED Talks were screened. In Mossel Bay, South Africa, Esther Jacobs Overbeeke organized a Heart The Oceans beach clean that got great positive coverage in local media. One of the event hotspots was Washington DC. The SCBinDC Chapter organized a marine-themed ‘networking happy hour’ where Green Turtle-tinis were served, and Knauss Marine Policy Fellow, Erin Eastwood, hosted a sustainable seafood dinner for her friends. In nearby Fairfax, Virginia SCB Marine Section board members Samantha Oester and Chris Parsons were quizmasters for the first ever Heart The Oceans pub quiz. Questions included, “How many hearts does an octopus have?” and “Samuel L Jackson was eaten by a biologically engineered shark in this 1999 action film.”

Left: Stage set up for film festival at KAUST in Saudi Arabia. Right: Erin Eastwood's sustainable seafood dinner in DC

There was also a huge outpouring of love for the oceans online, not least in the form of oceans art and poetry. SCB Marine Section Student Representative, Toni Mizerek, and family shared beautiful hand-drawn pictures of marine critters across Facebook and Twitter, as did 7-year-old Eden Rienks. Anybody who searched the hashtag #HeartTheOceans on social media on February 12 would also have been met by poetry that brought the oceans to life. Middle school science teacher, Patrick Goff, asked his students to write conservation haikus in honor of the oceans. “Blue waters drifting Wondering, pondering Fish Lively reefs are calm,” was among the many wonderful contributions.

Picture drawn by Eden Rienks

On the day we also asked as many people as we could why it was that they #HeartTheOceans. On Twitter, Carlos Duarte of KAUST recalled, “The emotion of eye contact with a humpback 1 m away from my small boat in Antarctica.” Renowned aquanaut Fabian Cousteau equated, “ocean = life, our wellbeing, a paradise, our planet’s womb & our future.” And the PEW Charitable Trusts highlighted the very important fact, “Every other breath you take comes from the ocean.”

Overall, the inaugural Heart the Oceans Day was a great success and plans for a 2017 repeat are already in motion. It wasn’t just SCB Marine Section members that got involved in the day, but school children, working citizens, and celebrities. The more people that celebrate the oceans, the more chance that the SCB Marine Section can succeed in its goal of promoting marine conservation.

Cake fundraiser at Elon University organized by Paige Lucas

Heart The Oceans Day was also an occasion on which to raise money to support diversity initiatives in marine conservation. Event organisers collected considerable funds, all of which will support marine conservation work in developing countries and small island states. Next year we hope you too will organize a Heart the Oceans event and help us support this worthy cause while spreading love for the big blue. Details will be on our website.