YOU may hear me sometimes – lapping sounds on the shore in some places, and roaring waves in others. Some love being in my presence; some prefer to experience me from a distance and yet others are simply afraid of me for a variety of reasons. I am the sea to some and the ocean to others; we are bodies of salt water and our difference in size and location, has earned these distinctions in your dictionaries’ definition. In essence, we are salt and water, be it sea or ocean.
I am part of our planet as you are and have been so since time began, more than 3 billion earth years ago. Within me are creatures aplenty, from crustaceans to cetaceans; some of them are more recent in their evolution, others have remained unchanged for generations, whilst others have vanished into extinction. We kept no records like you do; we simply knew and found ways to live in being who we are, be it predator or prey. By living our lives as who we are, we knew, we will keep the cycle of life moving, growing, evolving; for that’s what we’ve been doing, long, long before the human coming, about 5000 years ago.
The horizon meets me on one end as the shores do on the other. We have a relationship that is interdependent and yet often independent. The winds between us touch and caress us in different ways at different times in different places. If affects different parts of me differently. Sometimes I am churned into a furious frenzy completely at the wind’s mercy. It bears consequence on the shore and all that floats on me and those who live in me. Not all the consequences are pretty, though each has a purpose that we often, at that moment, cannot fully comprehend. And yet, life goes on with or without comprehension.
All of me knows you somehow, who ever you are. You were conceived in a fluid circumstance. I am fluid in nature. Your foetal gestation was in a fluid situation, and I am fluid. Your entire being is more fluid though it appears solid, as I am fluid. You have salt in your being as I have in mine. The compositions vary, yet you are salt and water as I am. We have an affinity that is difficult to deny, scientifically or otherwise. Hence it is natural for me to protect you and help you live. Let me count some of the ways:
Salt and Water
From me, you replenish the salt and water elements you need; whether you mine or desalinate me, or let me moisturize and rise to return to your soil, your extinction will be swift without me. Yet as much as I am happy to meet your needs, your privileged intelligence has found ways to extract minerals from me that my terrestrial cousin also has. Over the years, science has illuminated the dangers of mining some of these minerals terrestrially. Yet my vast expanse is now exploited as most of me is ‘no man’s land’ to recklessly and cheaply mine and return the toxic residue into my being. If I could feel like you, I would be very hurt that you care not for my well being, while yours is naturally always part of me. What ever that inspires and drives you into this unkindly act, seems to lack the foresight of the dreadful consequences not only for me, but for you too. I am concerned in silence; are you? Nonetheless as long as I am able, know that I will not betray you nor falter in my nature to protect you.
“Divers are the voices of the ocean; we have to speak on its behalf. It is sometimes necessary for us to speak out loud if we are serious about preserving the well being of our ocean planet; we should focus on fostering the passion of our children for the sea. Fish are friends not food….what goes into the drain, goes into the ocean. We can only save what we love. It is that simple.”
In me live plants and weeds aplenty; fish aplenty, crustaceans, critters, snails, shellfish and marine life whose descriptions could fill the annals and shelves in any library. Predators and prey live in me in an ecological web. Rarely do they harm or maim the other for sport or spite, but rather a genetic necessity to survive. You were not excluded from this abundance. Fishing from the shallow shores, you have now learnt to trawl the deep in huge polluting vessels, often taking more than you need, leaving some of the species in me, quite depleted, and some trawled needlessly to extinction. Yet among the creatures of this earth, you regard yourself to be among the most intelligent. And yet in all my 3 billion years of life and your 5000, I’ve never stopped nourishing the species that live in me nor those who live through me. I have provided as nature has allowed me to. But by the levels of increasing toxicity pumped into me along with rising temperatures even in the deep, this story is fast changing. Coral reefs are dying, unable to nourish those who domicile and feed on them. Some of the species who live in me need to seek new homes for their natural habitat is no longer sustainable. Abused, exploited or polluted, I remain faithful to my duty to house and provide the nourishment for all those who need, including you. Will you help me live this duty more fully each day?
IT is now an annual event that started as a human response to the eternal invitation of the sea sometime in 2002. After five of such events between two in KL and three in Singapore, it’s tentacles reached out to Manila, Philippines in Sep 2007. CTS is a door named ‘Awareness’, without which, we remain blind and deaf to the Dance of Life. ...the dance with 71% of this earth’s constitution and 99% of its living space. Many beings have now experienced the Dancethrough this event, deepening their understanding of not just the sea, but also the beauty and fragility of the relationship between the environment and humanity. CTS expresses the wonders of mother nature and her eternal laws. One such law is that of ‘attraction’. When the idea of CTS took root, it attracted like-minded hearts. CTS has been graced by some of the world’s luminaries in the fields of underwater imagery, marine biology, exploration, science and technology. It includes the likes of consummate award winning National Geographic photographer, David Doubiletand author Jennifer Hayes, high-tech photography pioneer, Emory Kristof, pioneer shark photographers of the Jaws fame, Ron and Valerie Taylor, taxonomist and scientist, Dr. Carden Wallace, creator of the first World Festival of Underwater Pictures in 1974, Daniel Mercier, explorer, scientist Dr. Sylvia Earle, eminent underwater photographers and authors, Michael Aw, Matthieu Meur, Danielle d’Orvilleto name but a few. It has attracted the ordinary souls, beyond just the bargains; it has attracted children and their parents through its activities and the CTS Children’s Art Competition; it has attracted both the budding and experienced image makers to share and learn from the very best of nature photographers, and the list goes on. So long as the belief in this cause remains the CTS message will continue to beam near and afar echoing the sea’s eternal invitation to experience the Dance of Life.
This Dance includes the collective and relentless support for the anti-sharks’-fins initiative. It is a peaceful plea to the ignorant; it relentlessly and tirelessly beams this message right across the earth through alliances, events and activities.
The creative endeavours of the ‘Greetings’ industry, celebrates all sorts of events and occasions, even those that are remotely related or meaningful to us. CTS is not such an endeavour; it’s an experience, to enrich our relationship with the environment and beam the eternal truth of our affinity to the sea, constantly.
It’s purpose and humble beginnings are immortalised in a coffee-table book by the same name. Fellow celebrants such as PADI, Rolex, Epson, Seacam to name a few, remain staunch to the CTS cause. It is not an underwater cult with exclusive rights or fights, but is open to all…..to remember, to learn, to honour, to dance, to celebrate….the cradle of life, the lungs of our beautiful earth. And it all began with the response from the Awfish’s heart; and indeed perhaps there is a fish in all our hearts!
Darren Aquino (Philippines)
Winner, Celebrate the Sea
Save Our Sharks Children Painting competition 2006
Wyland, honoree editor of Ocean Geographic celebrating...
painting the sea with children at Celebrate the Sea Festival.
Entertainment and Recreation
Our affinity in our fluid nature, has found you returning to my shores time and again; be it just to bask in my presence or frolic in the salinity of my composition. Curative to some, therapeutic to others, and sheer fun for the young ones. Be it at the surface, shallows or deep, there is something for everyone. Indeed there are hazards; but what fun is there without an element of challenge. There are swimmers, rowers, anglers, picnickers and divers; each with their own niche.....and I’m delighted with their respectful presence. It is when the respect is compromised that the ecology shifts in pattern and imbalance. Painters colour their canvas with my blue magnificence both above and underwater. Kids dip instinctively in me curious to pick up bits of my occupants, while birds of the sea sing their melodies as you humans capture them in your lenses. Music is a cacophony of the ocean’s living sounds and its winged friends filled with a certain rhythm and harmony only few have learnt to appreciate. enjoy and understand. And those among you who have dared to breach through my surface and explore my depths have often experienced the dance of colour and movement be it merely traversing, attacking, escaping or simply copulating, and be awed by the splendour of it all, entertained and thrilled by the coy or shameless display. Your weightlessness in me adds to your experience like that of a child in the womb of its mother. I continue to support all that is within me to enrich you physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Come and behold all that is beautiful and romantic in me; fill your senses through me. I am abundance till you deplete me. You have the choice, whilst mine is only to provide. Will you choose wisely for the coming generations to survive?
As much as carbon and its cousins have their uses, they have their dangers too. At Kyoto this was acknowledged and supposedly ratified. Yet political clout, commercial advantage and mindless greed, prevent the walking of this talk. All the carbon and dangerous gases you blatantly produce, I have absorbed as much as I could. My seams are bursting here; I’ve sent you my early and empirical warnings, but most were and are sadly ignored. But I cease not what I need to do for you, and will continue to do so until I am no longer blue. Oxygen I provide for your sustenance, just like the lungs within your body, I am the lungs for our planet. My mass occupies 71% of our planet; this is not a or a lie nor an ‘accident’; it is thus we have survived this far, but perhaps not for long.......you decide.
Dance with Me, Celebrate the Sea
See now, how little the ocean and its creatures are known to your fellow human beings. We can wait for the right politician or boss or colleague or the right moment to change the unhealthy and unsavoury habits and practices that pollute me which will then affect you. Or wait not, but explore the many ways and many opportunities to learn about each other, dance together and find better ways to understand each other, respect each other, recognise each other, and reassure each other that we can overcome all the wrong and evil done in the past and build a beautiful future together as it was originally ordained and designed. Some years ago, a bunch of you recognised this, put your minds together and started an annual event to Celebrate the Sea, and moved it from city to city in the Asia Pacific. Little baby steps to win hearts more than just cleverly crafted legislations and breast beating accusations. We need to spread the news that mainstream media often and inadvertently omit. They have obligations. So deny me not your presence; accept my invitation, dance with me, and mindfully Celebrate the Sea in timeless and endless motion.