For Alexandra Cousteau there could never have been any other calling. The filmmaker, explorer and environmental activist has followed in the footsteps of her famous father and grandfather to emerge as an advocate for the world’s oceans.
Ms. Cousteau, who will be the guest speaker at the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s Festival of Seas on Saturday, believes the underwater world has reached the point where it needs advocates more than ever.
“I think the important thing for us to remember is that we have 20 years to save corals. Obviously, there is no time to waste,” she said.
“I think we need to protect what we have and to try to rescue what we have lost.”
A combination of factors, including increasing ocean temperatures caused by global warming, have dramatically changed the underwater landscape since her grandfather, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, first explored and documented life beneath the waves in the 1950s.
Now the long-term survival of coral reefs is in doubt.
Ms. Cousteau said, “We will never go back to the oceans that my grandfather explored in the ‘50s and ‘60s – those are gone forever, but we don’t need to be resigned to a downward spiral.”
She said research groups, like CCMI, which has published groundbreaking studies on preserving coral reefs and is pioneering new methods in growing coral, were central to the fight for reefs.
“It is wonderful for me to support groups like CCMI who are working towards that end. We all benefit from their success,” she said.
“The end has not been written. If we continue with business as usual, we will lose our corals, but I always believe that there is room for ingenuity, invention and imagination to figure out how we stop these things from happening.”
Ms. Cousteau said she was not aware of the debate currently raging in Cayman over the proposed construction of a cruise port, which will involve the destruction of coral reefs in George Town harbor. But she said she was pleased to hear that advocacy groups, like Save Cayman, were fighting for the oceans.
“When young people are disengaged, bad things happen. It is wonderful to hear that they are raising their voices in Cayman for the oceans,” she said.
“We need young people to be engaged and to define the future that they want to live in.”
Aside from ocean warming, she sees plastics as a major concern, warning that there could soon be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
She believes governments need to move beyond the “reuse and recycle” mantra and begin holding companies accountable for putting plastic in the market in the first place.
“We need to turn off the single-use tap. There are essential plastics in our life; there are also a lot of non-essential plastics.”
The Festival of Seas Gala, CCMI’s largest annual fundraiser, takes place at Grand Old House, Saturday, from 6 p.m.
More information can be found at www.reefresearch.org/get-involved/gala2018.