Scientist. Academic. Watchman. Wallace “J.” Nichols has made a career of protecting the oceans’ interests. Here, Nautica turns a spotlight on Nichols, and his superhero efforts, in order to make a splash for ocean conservation.
From one million miles away, our planet looks exactly like a small blue marble. And yet most Americans—heck, most citizens of earth—only consider our world’s oceans during the summer months, when we grab coolers and swim trunks and head for the shore.
Then again, Wallace “J.” Nichols, marine biologist and ocean activist, isn’t your typical citizen of earth. For him, the planet’s bodies of water are constantly on the brain, and he believes the fates of the world’s oceans and humans are inextricably tied. “You can thank the ocean for the oxygen in every other breath you take,” he says.
Too often folks mistake the oceans’ vastness for invincibility. But we do have an impact. “The wildest animals on the planet, leatherback sea turtles and albatross, roam thousands of miles from the nearest human, and yet they have our plastic in them,” says Nichols. And since the advent of petroleum, the populations of the ocean’s biggest creatures have decreased by 90 percent, according to some experts.
Today, less than one percent of the ocean is protected.
And that needs to change. Nichols insists on a more experiential brand of activism, encouraging individuals to encounter the oceans directly, in order to build personal and emotional connections—to get their feet wet.
With this inclusive conservation message, Nichols is constructing a network of like-minded people and unexpected allies, all in the hopes of inspiring a healthier relationship between people and the sea.
GQ Magazine, November 2011.
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