Words of Honor
Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau
It is my fondest wish that the world below, hidden in the deeps, may come as well known to future generations as the continents are to us today. For this occur, it is necessary above all the world survive… the gold-flecked madreporarians, the translucent alcyonaceans, the gorgeous sea fans-all these things, and many more, are threatened by the side effects of our civilization… I have spoken often about the decline of coral…This decline, if it continues, will mark the end of one of the great beauties of creation and the end of a great hope-that of discovering life forms hitherto unknown on Earth…
If our grandchildren never have the opportunity to see living coral- it will be the everlasting shame of our age…
Let us not forget that we are responsible for the preservation of the beauties of the sea as well as for those on land…We have a moral obligation toward our descendants. We must not pass on to them a legacy of empty oceans and dead reefs. We must no longer think of the sea as “mysterious”… There are no longer “mysteries”: there are only problems to which we must find the answers… We are entering a new era of research and exploration. We must learn how to make use of the biological and mineral resources of the oceans…. But we must also learn how to preserve the integrity and the equilibrium of that world which is so inextricably bound to our own. Soon, perhaps, we will realize that the sea is but an immense extension of our human world, a province of our universe, a patrimony that we must protect if we ourselves are to survive.
To the man that we all owe our joyful hobby to, may your soul rest in peace.
Dr. Ismail Serageldin Director, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The richness and diversity of coral reefs defy the imagination. All shapes and colors are represented in a dazzling array of species that coexist in a delicate balance around and within.
“This fragile symphony of inner space” to use Cousteau’s words, harbors some of the most biologically diverse and productive systems on earth.
Coral reefs are, by conservative estimates, home for hundreds of thousands of species of plants and animals, less than 1/10 of which have been discovered or described. But even here, the notion of pristine is no longer valid. Not surprisingly, increased pressure on reefs brought about by spectacular demographic growth in the coastal zone, expanding tourism, change in agricultural practices, destructive fishing and the influence of climate change phenomena such as El Nino have left us swimming against the tide in a race against time.
Our mandate is to see that we win the race and reverse the decline, to educate the public and policy makers about the silent crisis unfolding beneath the world’s seas.