Changing Planet

Sylvia Earle’s 19th “Hope Spot” Named in Bering Sea Canyons

By Brett Garling, Mission Blue

In a fantastic event last night at the Seattle Aquarium, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle and Greenpeace’s Phil Radford announced the Bering Sea Canyons as the official 19th Hope Spot. The event attracted a large turnout and impassioned speeches in defense of the new Hope Spot. Moreover, a bonafide airship was in play!

The Bering Sea isn’t just chilly…it’s also super cool: these 770,000 square miles (1,994,000 square kilometers) of tempestuous waters off the coast of Alaska and Siberia are home to immense populations of fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and ancient corals, as well as the Bering Sea Canyons, the largest and deepest submarine canyons in the world, even larger than the Grand Canyon.

The rich ecosystem has supported indigenous tribes for thousands of years and currently provides over half the seafood caught in the United States.

Sylvia Earle announces the designation of a new “Hope Spot” in the Bering Sea.

If half the total U.S. catch sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. Sadly, under this enormous commercial pressure, the Bering Sea is in decline. Since the 1960’s, the region has seen steep declines in top predators — i.e. whales, sea lions, seals — with some populations dipping by over 80 percent of historic levels. Moreover, trawling nets are decimating ancient corals and sponges in the deep canyons, which are critical to the ecosystem and are hundreds to thousands of years old.

The Bering Sea was a rich ecosystem of harmony, and now it faces collapse due to the pressures of industrial fishing. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council are the stewards of these precious waters and, as such, they must protect sensitive habitats so the Bering Sea can continue to be a flourishing ocean ecosystem into the future. With the global ocean in a general decline, the preservation of the Bering Sea as a Marine Protected Area — or Hope Spot — is critical.

Greenpeace airship
A Greenpeace airship plies the skies.

Please join your voice in this cause. Sign the Greenpeace petition to help protect the Bering Sea Canyons and reach out to support in any way you can.

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media.

Assignments in 80 countries/territories included visits to a secret rebel base in Angola, Sahrawi camps in Algeria, and Wayana villages in the remote Amazon. Braun traveled with Nelson Mandela on the liberation leader’s Freedom Tour of North America, accompanied President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to their foundation’s projects in four African countries and Mexico, covered African peace talks chaired by Fidel Castro in Havana and Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Cairo, and collaborated with Angelina Jolie at World Refugee Day events in Washington, D.C. As a member of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, and media representative to the Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration, he joined researchers on field inspections in many parts of the world.

Braun has been a longtime member/executive of journalist guilds, press clubs, and professional groups, including the National Press Club (Washington) and editorial committee of the Online Publishers Association. He served as WMA Magazine of the Year Awards judge (2010-2012), advisory board member of Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest (2012), and multimedia/communications affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers (2015-2017).

David Braun edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world.

He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience.

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

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