Ocean conservation leaders met up in New York City this week to collaborate on solutions for the problems facing our oceans. Ocean Alliance President Roger Payne and CEO Iain Kerr were invited by Parley for the Oceans to join scientists, activists and artists, including music producer Pharrell Williams, legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle, NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, and Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, to talk about our work studying the effects of pollutants on whales.
The weekend began on Friday night as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, with Pharrell Williams unveiling the spring-summer 2015 line of Raw for the Oceans, his collaboration with G-Star Jeans and Bionic Yarn to create denim clothing with fibers from ocean trash. The catwalk was designed to simulate an underwater scene with a light show projected from above by artist Olafur Eliasson. Pharrell led the models down the catwalk dressed in the G-Star line and spoke to the audience about his passion, not just for this product line, but for this collaboration with ocean conservationists.
On Saturday speakers convened at 23 Wall Street for a day of talks centered around solutions for the oceans.
Roger Payne shared his personal experience getting involved in the world of whale conservation and spoke about the interdependency of species. Iain Kerr talked about climate change’s “evil twin”–ocean pollution, and explained our work in the Gulf of Mexico for the past five years following up on the Deepwater Horizon disaster and what we’ve found. Sylvia Earle talked about her new film “Mission Blue” and her dream of “Hope Spots” for the ocean. Louie Psihoyos, Oscar-winning director of “The Cove” spoke about his upcoming documentary “6” about endangered species and preventing the next mass extinction.
Paul Watson joined the discussion via Skype and talked about the need for humanity to wake up and get involved in saving the oceans. Chris Clark, a former student of Roger Payne and now the Director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University, spoke about how we’re filling the oceans with not only plastic, but with sound, which is significantly diminishing many whale species’ capacity to communicate. Filmmaker Chris Jordan showed clips from his upcoming documentary “Midway: A Message from the Gyre” which illustrates the devastation of plastics on the albatrosses of Midway Island. Astronaut Leland Melvin explained how from space it’s so clear that we live on a blue planet or “spaceship Earth” and how we are damaging our life-support system.
The weekend concluded with a roundtable discussion hosted by artist Julian Schnabel. Many thanks to Cyrill Gutsch of Parley for bringing the group together and inspiring cooperation and collaboration.