From Inspiration to Real-World Action for the Ocean

One year ago, NG Explorers Kenny Broad and Enric Sala joined business leaders, artists, non-profit founders, and others working to educate and inspire the world’s up-and-coming generation, as they met at “Summit at Sea” and looked for ways to do more to help protect and rehabilitate the ocean. (Follow Enric Sala’s new expedition to the Pitcairn Islands.)

Now the fruits of some of these efforts are being seen in exciting ways.

While the attendees at Summit at Sea gathered in the Bahamas to discuss inspiration and ocean conservation, they discovered that nearby their destination was a Marine Protected Area that had been named a decade ago, but which could benefit from increased attention and resources. As this fact inspired conversations among friends and over dinners, it proved a perfect opportunity to put their money where their mouths were, so to speak.

Kristofor Lofgren, founder of Bamboo Sushi, the country’s first certified sustainable sushi restaurant, kicked off the challenge with a large donation to The Nature Conservancy to help protect and study the South Berry Island Marine Protected Area (SBIMPA). Others like author Tim Ferriss soon followed suit, and the group has now helped raise more than $800,000.

Last month, some key Summiters reunited in Florida to visit SBIMPA and have a hand in actively studying and protecting it. The Waitt Institute donated the use of their research vessel, and MacGillivray Freeman films sent a documentary team to film the expedition for the One World, One Ocean campaign. Watch the above video to learn more about the project as a whole, and the one just below to see how Dr. Neil Hammerschlag of the University of Miami, who lead the shark satellite-tagging project at Summit at Sea, used this opportunity to study sharks in the area.

“We saw this as an opportunity for our community to collaborate and give back to an area that gave us so much,” said Thayer Walker of the Summit Series team. “We’re thrilled to see that this beautiful environment will now enjoy long-term protection.”


The other exciting way in which the inspiration from Summit at Sea is coming to fruition is through the marine-inpsired art of Jane Kim, a science illustrator and the founder of Ink Dwell, a studio that uses art “to catalyze love, awareness, and protection of the natural world.”

South Berry Island Marine Protected Area Mural by Jane Kim. Photo by Max Levine.

Jane won the Viewers’ Choice Award last year in a contest pitting 15 of the best ocean-saving ideas from Summit at Sea attendees against each other. Her idea of creating “Migrating Murals” was then highlighted here on NatGeo NewsWatch.

Now Jane has completed one such mural, showing a 9-foot shark, spiny lobster, goliath grouper, corals, and more.

Jane Kim touches up a portion of the SBIMPA mural. Photo courtesy Ink Dwell Studios.

Painted on several large wooden “canvasses” the mural is 16 feet by 4 feet, and all the animals are shown to scale, with the light box below pulsing at 3 knots, the speed of the local current in South Berry Island. The completed mural was installed in January at Summit Series’ most recent event, Summit Basecamp, and is slated to be displayed at the Nassau International Airport, in the Bahamas.

Both of these ideas were just seeds at the time of Summit at Sea last April. Now one year later, they have grown into two different, but significant efforts to protect life in the ocean, and to inspire people to learn and care more about it. They are evidence that even a brief moment of inspiration can spark real changes and action. So what are you waiting for? Go start something!




Human Journey


Meet the Author
Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.