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Environmental Recording :37 - 9:38 Play :37 - More
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Interview 9:38 - 1:00:53 Play 9:38 - More
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Sylvia Earle  

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Coral reefs  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
May 1995

    Geography
  • Bahamas
    Exuma and Black Point
    Locality
  • Lee Stocking Island
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 23.76722   -76.09556
    Habitats
  • Ocean
  • Marine
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
Bahamas/Key Largo
DAT log #5
5/25-29/95

LN = Lynn Neary
SE = Sylvia Earle

Lee Stocking Is DAT #1 Beach Interviews-Silvia Earle -Bahamas


0:00 (slates as "DAT six of the Gamma series")

0:40 Amb at beach interview site....pickup at 1:40... -4-:()c)

4:00 ends amb phase-inverted... start phase correct amb...lynn swims...

10:40 (interview begins) In: what is a coral reef?

se: rain forest of the sea...rich in plants and animals...neither plants nor animals? (retake here) ... classified incorrectly as plants for years... {scientific detail here) ...small organisms that live together...microscopic plants... lots of coral that are not reef-building...many variations on a theme ...

13:45 In: so some coral live isolated?

se: yes different types...many that live on reefs...in some cases it looks like pink cement poured, that's plant material ...

15:50: how rain forests and reefs alike?

se: alike and different...complex ecosystems...like a thriving city, interactions of components, like LA, NY, or Paris, how does this (complex system) work? what drives this system? initial energy comes from sunlight. in rain forests, the middlemen are insects at top of (food chain) ...time element long: tens of thousands of millennia to form processes. . .

18:20 In: i'm fascinated by fact that you find something new each time you go into the water.

SE: shouldn't be surprised, only been at this half a century, and the systems have been building for longer (half a century is nothing) ... ***we think of it so casually, oh, here's a reef, oh here's a rain forest, let's extract from it what we see as important. we can think of nothing more important to do with a rain forest than lumber, on coral reefs we extract only fish, without thinking about the fish..

20:25 (greg interrupts for jet... stops tape. reposition of mic.)

21:15 In: (re-asking question) amazed by how excited you get, something new each time.

se: ***discovered in my years the magnitude of our ignorance, humankind recent...we do know that life occurs at all levels of the sea,~ average depth is 2 miles, explored less than one tenth of one percent of the deep ocean. we come to Lee Stocking and discover small creatures on the beach among the grains of sand. true of rain forests as well. new discoveries await every turn.

23:50 In: parallels between coral reefs and rain forests?

se: lots of insects in rain forests, in oceans, explosion of species...

25:30 In: examples?

se: (plane interrupts)

27:00 In: examples?

SE: in rain forests, many species.....lots of beetles... in oceans building blocks are in protozoa, relationship between and sea and land species... *when you take a dive here on Lee Stocking you take a dive into history, most of the big wedges of diversity in history are here, in invertebrates, etc.

29:10 Ln: lost of colorful fish...

se: ***pains me that people only think of fish as swimming in butter... contributors to healthy planet. Imagine the ocean without fish. they are significant elements to making an ocean an ocean... 300 million years...we see and say Yum Yum, use ingenious ways of catching them, like catching the whole farm when we only need a basket of apples.

31:20 possibility that ocean could run out of fish?

SE: 2 things changing nature of earth: ***taking huge quantities of fish without taking into consideration what else we take out. a million tons alone out of Tokyo fish market...no way that the ocean can tolerate this sort of (over fishing) ...the other thing we're doing is what we're putting into the system: toxic chemicals into ground water...chemical nature of the ocean is changing in subtle and not so subtle ways.

34:30 In: how are chemicals affecting oceans?

se: i'll try... ***one thing clear, ecosystems stressed...if trends continue for 30 years, there will be no more coral reefs. maybe not, but the trend is clear that the decline is real. causes varied: global warming, coral bleaching... in Polynesia other a factors, but stress is clear...

37:10 ...there are ways that we can see link between life...**so when something enters the sea, like a chemical, (biocide), not friendly t life, they cut across life processes... add all this up, change chemistry, change the life (cycle), and not good for human life in the end.

39:00 (bob interrupts) (chuck links earlier part of interview with this part) (lynn reforms question)

40:00 Ln: you care so deeply and passionately, how to get other to care about the oceans?

se: we are communicating this... **everyone is dependent on the oceans, all of us live on the edge of the ocean..the sea drives weather... imagine the earth without ocean, just think of Mars and you can't live there. it the ocean dies, we die, if sick, we get sick. encourage people to get in touch, put on a mask, put flippers on your feet, get acquainted...think of lobsters as more than just a meal and allow yourself to be inspected... ambassadors to the sea.

42:20 In: **you talk about fish as though they were people...personalities...

se: groupers are labrador retrievers of the sea...intelligence...see grouper solve problems, some people do less.

43:10 In: what sorts of problems?

se: (bob wickland and grouper encounter)... cage put in cage to catch fish, couldn't get it, see it drool, laid on its side and propelled bait to where it could get a bite. that's problem solving. People need to think of fish as fellow vertebrates, with personalities... MIT engineers envy tuna through propulsion...deep sea fish have solved problems of seeing in low light...more value than pounds of meat, they're just so incredible.

45:50 In: sea vs. space exploration... let's get to the moon... what goal to set to get people behind it?

se: look to sea for origins of life and future of life...ultimate source of health, etc. that should be enough, but not. **claire booth luce said heaven up and hell down, and that explains why we look skyward. (blah blah) ***there's one piece of technology: 2 x 4 technology: whap, whap, whap: wake up wake up, these things are valuable, priceless, don't take it for granted. (some wind and plane at tail end of answer)

49: 30 (plane interrupts.)

51:10 In: ***what is it you'd like to do to impress?

se: the 2 x 4, just to get people to get energized.

52:10 In: let me suggest that we've explored the ocean, some people say we've ... (break) in motivating people to get involved, some people think we've already done this. what do people find out when they go under?

se: **when i arrived in Washington in 1990 as the chief scientist of NOAA, as a nation we're pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into exploring the oceans from the surface, not much looking beneath the surface...except NUR Program...compare that with the 26 million dollar toilet... (need to re-shift money to) lee stocking-type undersea exploration, that's where the action is......we need to understand history of planet and look beneath surface to do that... ***we don't know what we don't know, complacency that we've got answers, the magnitude of our ignorance, most important problem...

56:50 (retake for wind) se: the most important thing we do not know is what we do not know.

57:05 In: what would i learn by going down?

se: most shocking discovery is that ocean is not JUST water, lots of tiny creatures... (plane in bg) ... as you plunge down, indigo amphitheatre, you never lose touch with life... (more plane) ... life everywhere, sometimes glimpsed by humans for the first time.

(ending #1)
59: 50 LN: thanks Sylvia, time to go down... se: Splashdown time! (laugh)
1:00:05 (Variation) LN: thanks Sylvia, not let's trip on submarine. se: alright let's go take a trip in to the history of the planet. (laugh)

(ending #2)
1:00:20 LN: thanks Sylvia Earle for talking with us in this beautiful spot on lee stocking island.

se: thank you, look forward next time we can go diving

1:00:38 (variation...some plane in bg) LN: thank you se for talking with us. SE: my motto, 'onward and downward'.

(long ambient tail, some plane in distant bg)

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