2014 Intern, Katherine Sullivan, lives near American Promise's expedition base in Kittery, ME. She is a small business owner and teaches Marine Biology and Scientific Inquiry at York Community College in Maine and is excited to get her hands dirty, sandy and salty to make a difference to our one, big ocean.
What inspires me to act on behalf of the oceans? Let’s start with this. Crabs might have six legs, but they don’t have any hands. They are detritivores, and do the best they can, but they can only handle organic debris. They need us two handed types to take care of the inorganic debris. It is the oneness that inspires me; that we and the crabs share a common ancestor, that there is only one ocean, and we all depend on it for continued good health, as organisms, as a planet.
We have given different parts of the world ocean different names, and in doing so have created a false sense of separation between us as humans, and between humans and the animals and plants that live in different parts of this amazing planetary circulatory system. I’ve included a photo of my friend celebrating the return of the Emperor penguins from the sea as they paced past McMurdo Station this past March. They were curious about everything they passed, taking the time to look at anything that seemed out of place to them; they sniffed and prodded and looked out of each eye, turning their heads this way and that, picked items up and flung them around. They looked her right in the eye, out of each one of their eyes. They moved on when they felt all was as it should be.
It is our responsibility to do the same, to be curious when things seem to be out of place, to look the situation right in the eye and decide what the right way to handle it is. I love it that I was standing on the shore of the North Atlantic at the same time she was watching penguins make their steady way across the Ross Sea ice shelf. I love it that the current that moves up the North Atlantic shore originates there in Antarctica. I tend to think that whatever we can do here in the Gulf of Maine to work towards a clean ocean will certainly have a positive effect on our local finned, furred, feathered and six legged pinching distant cousins. I believe that it will also sound a subtle positive echo all the way through the sea to Antarctica.