"Of all the money raised for conservation in this country, only two or three percent focus on the ocean," explained sea advocate David Rockefeller, Jr., acting ever the supportive husband at MOMA's screening of his wife Susan Rockefeller's documentary Mission of Mermaids, screened in celebration of World Ocean's Day. Upon hearing that bit of information, I quickly went to google to check just how much of the Earth was, in fact, comprised of ocean. Even from elementary school science class, I remembered that it was a lot. Indeed: my quick search informed me that the ocean covers over 70 percent of the Earth's surface and contains 99 percent of the living space on the planet. Given those stats, the figures cited by Mr. Rockefeller seem almost alarmingly low.
And thus we have charities like Oceana -- of which Mrs. Rockefeller is a board member -- the only global non-profit organization focused exclusively on ocean protection. Rockefeller's film, a 15 minute documentary, is a "love letter" to the ocean as well as a call to action, viewing the ocean through the eyes of the mythical mermaid. It explores ocean acidification, overfishing and pollution.
Presented by Girard-Perregaux and hosted by Italian actress Jo Champa, the event's mantra "Protect what is Precious" cleverly relates to both the state of the world's oceans and the rare art of fine watchmaking. Gayle King, Julie Gilhart, Nile Rodgers, Anna Carter, Ricardo Cisneros, Andy Sharpless and IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond and his wife Peggy Bonapace were among the many boldfaced names that peppered the attentive audience. Following the screening, Michele Sofisti, CEO of Sowind (Girard-Perregaux and JeanRichard), presented Susan and David -- who is the founder of his own non-profit, Sailors for the Sea -- with their own Girard-Perregaux SeaHawk "Big Blue" watches, which were created to honor their environmental efforts.
"People like Susan and David work as our guardian angels, always reminding us of the importance of protecting our planet," said Sofisti. "We are honored to be working with them and hope that together we will shed more light on the issue of ocean health and its protection." Mrs. Rockefeller echoed the sentiment, and gave an appreciative shout-out to the luxury Swiss watchmakers for reminding everyone that time is precious, and that it should be used to save our oceans. And lest anyone think it is too late to do so, that is not the case. As explained in the film, which was written, narrated and directed by Mrs. Rockefeller, the ocean has a remarkable ability to adapt and recover, if only we would allow it to do just that. "Fortunately, the film ends on an optimistic note, so as to give people hope and inspire them to action," David later reflected at the post-screening cocktail party.
After the film and subsequent Q & A, guests were welcomed into a new environment inspired by Susan's film. Mythical mermaids dressed in gorgeous gowns, Girard-Perregaux watches and Susan Rockefeller jewelry greeted guests amid a sea of light and projections of Ricardo Cisneros's ocean-inspired work. The mermaids handed out Susan Rockefeller stainless steel straws, engraved with the evening's leitmotif "Protect what is Precious," to discourage single-use plastic. This call to action is also engraved in both the "Big Blue" watch and Susan's new jewelry collection, which launched on June 8th at susanrockefeller.com. Each of her pieces is meant to be a tool to spark a conversation about ocean conservation. Since most of us will be spending at least some time on the beach this summer, this would seem the most logical time to start getting involved and indeed, protect what is precious to us.