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"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

* Jacques Cousteau
A friend just remembered me that there will be World cean !a" a#ain on the
$th of June %&'% and he su##ested me to write down what this actuall" means to me.
The World cean !a" was officiall" reco#ni(ed b" the )nited *ations in
%&&$. )nofficiall" it was alread" declared b" Canada in '++%.
,ainl" it is a da" to remember and honor the ocean in the hope that our
actions as individuals will help maintain its health.
The aim of World ceans !a" is to challen#e participants to view ocean
protection as a wa" of life, with a special emphasis around individual potential for
wellness. -t is such a lar#e ecos"stem and the problems seem so over whelmin#. .ut it
is especiall" important that we motivate the "outh of the world to start a conscious
awareness of the value of the oceans. The oceans are a comple/ ecos"stem, the" are
all connected, connected to the atmosphere and if the ocean dies0 so shall we. 1ow
can we instill the value of this lifes blood within our children2 The" should learn how
each species has its entitlement for e/istence and its role in the bi##er part.
To e/plain what the ocean means to me - have to start from the ver" be#innin#
in m" childhood. .ecause the ocean had not alwa"s pla"ed an important role in m"
life. .ut - would fall for it later.
When - #rew up - used to live in 3ast .erlin behind the wall. 3ver" summer
we would visit m" #randparents down south where the" had a wonderful cabin in the
woods. The little house was ver" basic and nested in the middle of the Thurin#a
forest, a national par4. ," #randfather was paral"(ed but ama(in#l" his will let him
wal4 5if "ou will sa" so6 smaller distances with canes. 7or me he was and is m"
bi##est hero. 1e 4new ever"thin# about nature and its creatures and he had the #ift to
teach people about it in his 4ind and #entle wa"s. 8o when - was sta"in# with him -
follow him li4e a shadow.
1e tau#ht me how animals live to#ether and what plants and herbs "ou can use
for healin#. We made little whistles out of wood and leaves to imitate the birds. That
are m" fondest memories from m" childhood - will treasure in m" heart forever. -n
that earl" a#e he alread" #ave me the love for nature and especiall" for all livin#
.asicall" we never had traveled elsewhere. And there was no ocean near the
cabin but - never missed out9
,oreover there were not man" possibilities because of the iron curtain.
While watchin# T: -;ve been able to travel in m" ima#ination with all the bi#
e/plorers to all 4ind of enticin# places. - had loved documentaries about <alapa#os
and about the ocean adventures of Jacques Cousteau and alwa"s dreamed about
e/plorin# the world m"self.
- wanted to travel to e/otic countries far awa", e/periencin# different cultures
and seein# the most e/otic and threathened animals. - dreamed about tropical islands
surrounded b" the m"sterious sea and about palm trees and turquoise water.
ne da" - wanted to convince m"self of the worlds true beaut" from behind the wall
that seperated m" countr" from the rest of the world. 8omehow - came to understand
that the health of the ocean was not about m" walled countr" called 3ast <erman". -t
was about the planet, one that was covered b" water 5or at least =%> of it6.

,ore than a decade later - studied film in *ew ?ealand and wor4ed as
photo#rapher. -t was a ver" chan#in# decade since the wall in <erman" went down
and people #ained the abilit" to travel wherever the" wanted to. And - wanted to #o
far. - dreamed about the end of the world and tropical islands and the ocean.
After one semester at the )niversit" of Auc4land - decided it was time for a
brea4 and - boo4ed a just two wee4s trip to 7iji since it was so close. This vacation
should chan#e m" life and - sta"ed lon#er.
When - arrived in *adi at ni#ht - could not see much but - felt the warm
subtropical air alread" while leavin# the airplane.
8ince *adi is just a bi##er town and had not much to do with a tropical island -
decided to sta" a ni#ht or two to ma4e up m" mind where to #o from here.
- actuall" thou#ht about to learn somethin# new. 8omethin# - haven;t done
before0 - wanted to learn scuba divin#. - could li4e it but actuall" - had to overcome
the fear of drownin# - had since - learned swimmin# in a ver" "oun# a#e and later in
school. The 3ast <erman swim teachers treated their students ver" rou#h bac4 then. -
remembered a moment where - had a feelin# to drown not receivin# the helpin# cane
the" had promised to #ive me to hold on. That memor" had stuc4 with me since then
and - was read" to #et rid of it with the help of the beautiful ocean.
7iji consists of over @&& islands and - was wanderin# where to travel to first.
Too much of a choice. Areferable - would #o somewhere which was not on the major
tourist trail.
7rom a #irl at the hostel - #ot a ver" valuable hint to #o to *ananuB-BCa. -t;s close to
the major island but still a hideawa". ,oreover it had a dive shop and some of the
best reefs surroundin# it. And - rather learned divin# in the ocean than in a pool in
- too4 the #irls advice and went. We left *adi and drove a couple of hours into
the direction of Ca4ira4i and from there to 3llin#ton Wharf. The further awa" from
*adi the better it felt. The adventure was about to start. -n a few hours - was supposed
to see m" first tropical island. When the car arrived at the wharf the little boat which
would brin# us there was alread" waitin#. ,e and a few fellow travelers - had met at
the hostel #ot of the bus and onto the boat. We were welcomed with a bi# smile and a
BULA the t"pical #reetin# in 7iji.
And there it was BB the ocean. Cr"stal clear and turquoise and simpl" ama(in#.
- saw tin" fishes in the most ama(in# colors dancin# li4e butterflies0 just of the sea.
-t too4 about 'Dmin and there it was BB *ananuB-BCa which means !a"dream
island and it trul" was. - will never for#et this moment. ne of the best - had in m"
life and which - will cherish in m" heart forever. A lon# island with hills and closer to
the beach with tropical ve#etation surrounded b" ocean appeared. Ei4e on a postcard
or a screensaver BB just better. -t was real. - smelt the salt" sea. - felt the warm sun on
m" s4in. - was happ". verwhelmed. Tears run down m" face. There it was. And there
is where m" love for the ocean be#an.
There was not much time to e/plore the island in the first place since the dive
lessons started the ne/t da" alread". -t was fabulous and scar" at the same time to be
under the sea for the first time in "our life. ," dive teacher was <erman but we didn;t
came alon# well from the moment on when - stru##led with showin# of the mas4
clearin# s4ill. -t had brou#ht bac4 m" memories of drownin# as a 4id but he didn;t
show an" compassion at all. 1e even had threatened me - would never see the ma#ic
what was out there in the deep blue. - was desperate. .ut there was help of somebod"
else who had been the previous dive instructor but meanwhile wor4ed as the mana#er
of the small resort. 1e offered me and another #irl who had similar problems to ta4e
us on a special dive to overcome our fears.
We too4 our #ear and went into the ocean ri#ht from the beach. <len #uided us
to a tin" reef close b" and showed us all the ma#ical creatures which inhabited that
place. 7rom soft corals, nudi branches in various shapes and colors to all 4inds of
tropical fish. -t was wonderful. We became so rela/ed that we could perform the s4ills
afterwards without an" problems.
*ow we were able to e/plore the other reefs. -t was ama(in# and - discovered
a totall" new world was just peacefull" coe/istin# on the same planet - never onl"
closel" 4new about. A world which had #iven the earth its name BB the blue planet.
Which had shaped it. Where we all came from.
- saw the most ma#ical creatures. - was ama(ed of the creativit" of mother
earth which has created animals li4e octopus that can chan#e their colors in an instant
and blend into the environment just fine. With an ine/perienced e"e "ou trul" have to
loo4 closel" to discover them.
8ea cucumbers were l"in# around the shallow seafloor. What a weird creature
but all with its meanin# for the whole. !id "ou 4now that actuall" sometimes a tin"
parasite fish waits to #et into a sea cucumber throu#h their but and then sta"s their
livin# from the animals intestines until the cucumber dies2 Well if there were no sea
cucumbers an"more because unfortunatel" the" are often sold to the Asian mar4ets
with their weird food needs0 the tin" fish could wait for a ver" lon# time.
r did "ou 4now about anemone fishes life2 Cemember its meanwhile
commonl" 4nown as *emo fish after the bi# animated film hit.
Actuall" this fish can chan#e their se/. When the bi##est fish which is alwa"s female
dies the second bi##est which was the male becomes female and the fish after this is
the male. 8tran#e but true.
And sure - saw m" first shar4s. The probabl" most misunderstood creatures of
the sea with its unjustified bad reputation. -t were just white and blac4 tip reef shar4s
but seein# "our first shar4s is another feelin# "ou never for#et. -ts #race0 its beaut".
This animals were #lidin# ele#antl" throu#h the water. - was not afraid. *ever - had
believed in dumb movies li4e FJawsG which portrait them as blood thirst" monsters. -
was just fascinated. There were ri#ht ne/t to me. <entle and didn;t even tr" to attac4.
- fell in love with shar4s. To celebrate m" passed pen Water e/am - went to a
ver" special shar4 feedin# trip at the .eqa Ea#oon in 7iji. Ama(in# how man" fish -
saw at once. *ot even spea4in# of how man" shar4s of all 4ind. There were reef
shar4s, nurse shar4s, lemon shar4s, lots of bull shar4s and a ti#er shar4. 8har4s are
such majestic and stron# animals. This trip stuc4 in m" memor" until toda". 8har4
feedin#s are controversial for man" but - personall" thin4 that it helps to show people
these animals in their natural habitat so the" could lose their fear of them and start to
develop an understandin# of the animal. With help of these feedin#s the 7ijians for
e/ample could stud" so much more about the behavior of the bull shar4s while puttin#
little sensors in the food. *ow the" could trac4 the wa"s the" put bac4 in the bi#
8ince these times - dove on various places around the world seein# shar4s.
bservin# them in their element. - started to understand their role in the ocean and
how the" help to balance the fish population. The" became one of the most interestin#
creatures to me. ." far there is not much 4now about them li4e how the" mate or if
and how the" chan#e se/es. 8ome of the shar4s #ive birth to a livin# pub and some
la" e##s. 1ow fascinatin#.
- 4now, that shar4s are the most misunderstood animals and it had hurt me
when - discovered that the" were hunted and slau#htered for the pointless tradition of
eatin# shar4 fin soup usin# it as a status s"mbol in some Asian cultures. - have
e/perienced them in their habitat and can see them from a different point of view. -
wish more people would do so. The" mi#ht not be as cute as furr" animals but the"
have a ri#ht and purpose to be on our planet. Therefore - support all movements
a#ainst the cruel slau#hter of these 4in#s of the seas.
*ot just the shar4s are endan#ered. All 4inds of sea creatures suffer from over
fishin# and from loosin# their habitat because of pollution. The ocean is their home.
Appro/imatel" =&> of the planetHs surface is ocean and it produces more than half of
the worlds o/"#en throu#h tin" ocean plants I called ph"toplan4ton. The ocean
influences climate and weather patterns and inhabits more than %@&.&&& species
4nown to science. .ut there is still far more un4nown about the ocean.
)nfortunatel" the ocean has been becomin# a dumpin# #round for our waste.
1uman man4ind needs the ocean health" to survive. We need a health"
ecos"stem because we relate on it for a health" life for us and the future #enerations.
-n %&'& - became one of ten finalists to Win a trip of a lifetime to the
<alapa#os. -n within three wee4s - could win hundreds of online votes to finall" win
that trip. ," dearest childhood dream had become true. - e/periences lots of
motivated and dedicated people around the world who had supported me with m"
wish. 8o - 4now that each of us can do a little dail" which we all could benefit in the
whole. That is wh" - hope - can inspire and encoura#e people to a better awareness of
the ocean and of the livin#.
We all can support the ocean if we would live a conscious life. -f we all would
save our resources and would onl" ta4e as much as we need. -f we don;t spoil #ood
drin4in# water and don;t use plastic ba#s for shoppin#. Clean the beach0 ta4e "our
#arba#e home. 8pea4 out a#ainst cruel 4illin# of innocent animals of all 4indsJ 8i#n
petitions. 8upport or#ani(ations li4e 8ea 8hepherd.
- would love for more people to e/perience what - did to open their hearts and
to understand wh" the protection of the ocean is such a bi# deal. - wish for parents to
ta4e their 4ids to the sea when there are small to let them e/perience the real beaut". -
don;t want people to loo4 awa" when whales and dolphins are slau#htered but rather
ta4e action. !on;t support places where sea mammals are trained for amusement and
have to support stupid tric4s. Cather #o on #uided whale watchin# tours.
There is hope. There is a evironmental conciousness #rowin# especiall" in
within the "outh. -;ve seen it wherever - traveled. The" are open hearted and the"
want to 4now and to learn. Eet;s teach and educate them. Eet;s inspire them. Eet us
raise them into people who respect the ocen and the evironment. Eet us support them
to life the ri#ht wa" in harmon" with the blue planet.
KOne person can make a difference. In fact, it's not only possible for one person to
make a difference, it's essential that one person makes a difference. And believe it or
not, that person is you.F .ob Cile"
We lost Captain Cousteau 5%D.&L.'++=6 when there was no internet. Toda" we
can use a tool for information that he and his collea#ues had no access to
5internetMemail6. Eet;s use it to save the sea and in doin# so, life on this fra#ile planet
3ach of "ou could start toda" to help the ocean, help human man4ind and help the