Summer | June 2017 issue
Every now and then, specific moments remind us how much we ought to value life. I get these reminders, in many different forms, every time I visit or am in contact with project leaders from around the world. I hear about the enthralling work they are doing and I get to share their enthusiasm and their passion for the ocean and its inhabitants. Theirs is a dedication seldom touched by the mundane twists of everyday life.
Most of my close friends enjoy lives filled with adventure and exploration in unique and fragile ecosystems, and with wild animals that still hold many mysteries for us. Everything they experience is a constant expression of how amazing, exciting, mysterious and wonderful our planet earth – and all life – really is. And of why our endeavours and commitment are so important, not just for ourselves but for life in general. As Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum so eloquently said in a presentation to the IUCN in 1968,
‘In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.’
Sometimes, though, an unexpected event will challenge our understanding of the meaning of life. The passing of Rob ‘SharkWater’ Stewart earlier this year was one such event; you try to understand the reason … but there isn’t one. Rob presented a unique outlook on life – a life dedicated to sharks and our Mother Earth. His talent for communicating a strong message, wrapping it in a compelling story and presenting it with astonishing visuals, was truly unique. He was one of the people who inspired me in the past decades. When I attended the Celebration of Life that his family and friends organised in his memory, I was struck by the number and the diversity of the people he had touched – people who shared his enthusiasm and passion for the cause he believed in. And he had touched them all with an intensity that was alive and omnipresent. I believe that for all the different people who shared his appetite for life, Rob will continue to live and to galvanise in each one of us unremitting dedication to a common cause.
‘A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.’
Charles Darwin – The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 1887
This seventh issue of Save Our Seas highlights the importance of collaboration and of alternative approaches to conservation, showcases personal stories from the last frontier of the world, dives with devil rays and traces the migrations of great hammerhead sharks and the current whereabouts of mythical sawfishes in Africa. It also explores the potential for learning from local fishers and encouraging them to take over stewardship of species they used to target.