Enjoy a sampling of print media featuring Dr. Nichols' efforts collected on ISSUU.
Marine biologist, lecturer, ocean ambassador and founder of several conservation initiatives, Dr. Wallace J. Nichols speaks to Deborah Bassett about the benefits of wildlife tourism, saving baby turtle eggs and an 112 day trek along the US west coast.
Deborah Bassett: I am intrigued by your blue marble project and see more and more of them popping up in various places around the world. What is the significance of the marble and what do you hope to achieve with this initiative?
Dr. Wallace J. Nichols: The Blue Marble Project began in 2009 as a simple way to make our ocean message stickier and more memorable. After a presentation in the New England Aquarium's IMAX theater, we gave everyone a blue marble to pass along with a positive ocean protection message. The marble represents the Earth from one million miles away in the spirit of Carl Sagan, Stuart Brand and Apollo astronauts. The response was incredible, so we've continued sharing blue marbles. The project's 'gone viral' as they say, and now there are a million blue marbles being passed person to person around the world including to EO Wilson, Jane Goodall, Harrison Ford and to thirteen year old Ben Freiman who shared blue marbles at his recent Bar Mitzvah, 'Ocean Mitzvah' he calls it. It's a simple reminder of the importance of gratitude, thanking each other for the small and large efforts to restore and protect our biosphere. It feels good to be given a blue marble, and to share it forward.
DB: What has been the most rewarding aspect of remaining an independent scientist and researcher?
WJN: Over the past decades I've worked with and for lots of organizations. Many of our systems and ways have us locked in to an abusive relationship with our biosphere and successful restoration work is almost always a struggle. For the past few years I've been experimenting with a more open, freelance career model that allows me to be an independent scientist-advocate-communicator and to work with others in new ways. Being able to think and act independently and collaboratively is important to me, and it turns out we get a lot done.
Being able to communicate freely about the global problem of plastic pollution in the ocean, for example, is crucial. The influence of the petrochemical industry is enormous and has slowed down our response to this crisis considerably. Serious concerns about ocean micro-plastics were described in the early 1970's in the top science journals. Forty years later, the problem is still increasing, as is the pile of research and data describing it. By forming the Plastic Pollution Coalition we've given a stronger voice to new ideas and real solutions.
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