Seychelles President delivered a striking speech from deep below the ocean’s surface, as he made a global plea for stronger protection of the “beating blue heart of our planet.”
President Danny Faure’s call for action, the first-ever live speech from an underwater submersible, came from one of the many island nations threatened by global warming, Ap reported.
He spoke during a visit to an ambitious British-led science expedition exploring the Indian Ocean depths.
“Oceans cover over two-thirds of the world’s surface but remain, for the most part, uncharted. We have better maps of Mars than we do of the ocean floor,” Faure said.
“This issue is bigger than all of us, and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it. We are running out of excuses to not take action, and running out of time,” the president said from a manned submersible 400 feet (121 meters) underwater on the seabed off the outer islands of the African nation.
Wearing a Seychelles T-shirt and shorts, the president told The Associated Press after his underwater speech that the experience was “so, so cool. What biodiversity.” It made him more determined than ever to speak out for marine protection, he said. “We just need to do what needs to be done. The scientists have spoken.”
The oceans’ role in regulating climate and the threats they face are underestimated by many, even though as Faure pointed out they generate “half of the oxygen we breathe.” Scientific missions are crucial in taking stock of underwater ecosystems’ health.
Small island nations are among the most vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change. Land erosion, dying coral reefs and the increased frequency of extreme weather events threaten their existence.
Little is known about the watery world below depths of 30 meters, the limit to which a normal scuba diver can go. Operating down to 500 meters, the scientists were the first to explore areas of great diversity where sunlight weakens and the deep ocean begins.
Speaking from underwater, he said: “From this depth, I can see the incredible wildlife that needs our protection, and the consequences of damaging this huge ecosystem that has existed for millennia,” Faure said in his speech. “Over the years, we have created these problems. We can solve them.”
Currently, only about 5% of the world’s oceans are protected. Countries have agreed to increase the area to 10% by 2020. But experts and environmental campaigners say between 30% and 50% of the oceans outside nations’ territorial waters should get protected status to ensure marine biodiversity.
Oceans will be one of the seven main themes of this year’s U.N. climate summit in Chile in December.