Fragile Waters: Our Global Ocean

06/09/2015 10:33 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2016
Mary T. Crowley

Water is more than a resource; it is essential to all life we know. In a time of blatant disregard for the sanctity of the environment, this exhibition focuses on the beauty of pure free-flowing water, of reflections and light, of water forms such as rain clouds, ice and icebergs, and of life in water, providing us access to a world we may never otherwise know.

--Jeanne Falk Adams,

Curator of the Fragile Waters Exhibit.

Fragile Waters, a brilliant exhibit of the photography of Ansel Adams, Ernest H. Brooks II and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly, is currently at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. It was curated by Jeanne Falk Adams in response to the gulf-oil disaster. The artistry of these three renowned photographers dramatically shows the fragility and magnificence of water and inspires people to care. To accompany these iconic photographic images, Jeanne chose to include a display case 14 feet in length, filled with ocean trash collected by Project Kaisei/Ocean Voyages Institute (PK/OVI) during expeditions to the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone/Gyre.

In his autobiography, Ansel Adams quoted Sierra Club founder John Muir's statement that he founded the Sierra Club "to do something for wildness and make the mountains glad." Adams explained, "I wanted to do that, too, and to help protect all our national parks."

Project Kaisei, founded in 2009, is working to make the ocean glad, and is the ocean-cleanup initiative of Ocean Voyages Institute. Humanity has created a crisis by dumping millions of tons of plastic -- which lasts for hundreds of years -- into our ocean. Now we get to create solutions!

The 151' Brigantine Kaisei conducted a number of major expeditions to the Gyre in addition to voyages to British Columbia and Mexico. These voyages have accomplished significant scientific research and resulted in global newspaper and magazine articles and TV and film pieces highlighting the devastating effects of plastic pollution in our ocean. All efforts to stop the flow of plastic into our global ocean -- including innovations in manufacturing, packaging, changes in people's behavior, and cleanups of all types, from neighborhood to river to beach to gyre -- are important. The very act of picking up plastics creates awareness and change in behavior. People engaged in cleanup often inspire changed behavior in others around them.

Sailors who are participating in this year's Volvo Around the World Ocean Race report an increase in marine debris encountered at sea. At the Ocean Summit on Marine Debris in Newport, Rhode Island, on May 15th this year, sailors sounded a "call to arms in an effort to clean the oceans of plastic and other ocean debris." One of the sailors, Charlie Enright, skipper of Team Alvimedica, stated, "At the narrowest part [of the Malacca Strait], it seemed there was enough trash that you could walk from one point of land to the other. We saw wooden pallets, fishing nets, tires, coolers and many plastics. It was alarming."

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Remove. PK/OVI advocates for all five R's. Our primary current focus is a maritime-industry approach to remove massive plastic pollution from our global ocean by adapting existent technologies. Tugs and barges can remove deadly ghost nets that kill marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and reefs. Fishing vessels can trawl for consumer plastics, and oil skimmers can pick up small, jagged, crushed pieces of plastic. PK/OVI declare 2015/2016 years for ocean clean-up!

"Solving a problem starts with knowing that you have one. Project Kaisei vividly shows how discarded plastics are clogging the ocean, causing a major problem for the planet's vital blue heart, entangling marine life and insidiously killing as it accumulates in the food chain from tiny plankton to great whales. Best of all, the mission highlights hope with ideas for positive action!"

--Sylvia Earle,

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

Mission Blue is successfully advocating for the creation of "hope-spots"/marine sanctuaries throughout the world. Sylvia Earle's work ranging from presentations to the United Nations, to global conferences and speeches, inspires urgent changes for ocean health.

Another successful Ocean Hero is David Helvarg who highlights ocean solutions and works on creating the public will to scale up the solutions faster than problems.

I have had the pleasure and privilege to sail over 100,000 miles, nurturing a deep and abiding love for the ocean. The proliferation of plastic pollution is a major hazard to the blue heart of our planet. This is an issue that can be solved by using our technical skills to accomplish major cleanup and innovation. I created the Marine Debris Collection Equipment Think Tank, including naval architects, engineers, oceanographers, fishermen and ocean industry experts. Think Tank members work together to develop large-scale solutions. Healthy oceans are vital to the health of our planet and to our own health. I am committed to accomplish effective ocean clean-up and to share information on technologies to help other efforts to clean up our global ocean.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in partnership with Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action. The series is being produced to coincide with World Oceans Day (June 8), as part of HuffPost's "What's Working" initiative, putting a spotlight on initiatives around the world that are solutions oriented. To read all the posts in the series, read here.