The Blue Ocean film festival in Monterey was rocking this year, featuring five days filled with seminars, workshops, and of course the best of the movies out there focusing on ocean adventures, exploration and ocean conservation issues. The key message this year, championed by Dr. Sylvia Earle and echoed by everyone else, was that the next ten years are critical to what the next 100 years are going to look like as far as conservation and species survival.

There is hope as we gain more and more knowledge, technology, and supporters and as our educational efforts reach more corners of the world through movies, TV, and the power of the Internet.

Sylvia Earle says the next 10 years will shape our next 100 years

In addition to a full range of presentations, the festival organizers, Debbie and Charles Kinder, were able to assemble the leading shakers and movers in science, research and media including print, TV, film, and Internet. To mention a few: Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Fabien Cousteau, and Celine Cousteau; the prolific writer Carl Safina, who also received the first “Sylvia Earle Award” there; Daniel Basta, director of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation; Dr. John Francis from National Geographic; Charlotte Vick of Google Ocean; and Chris Palmer of American University, who brought his classes to their feet, stretching arms and minds while learning how to make a difference and gaining inspiration to be and stay at our best.

J Jean-Michel Cousteau delivers his tribute to his father "the Captain" Jacques Cousteau

From the media, Greg and Shaun MacGillivray of Imax 3D production and education led the pack, which included prominent filmmakers Howard and Michele Hall, Bob Talbot, Tom Campbell, Chuck Davis, and Didier Noirot of France to mention only a few.

Howard Hall and Tom Campbell sharing thoughts before the panel

National Geographic’s David Doubilet and Jen Hayes hosted everyone on the first night in a special reception, bringing us into a gallery of their stunning imagery that set the tone for the whole week – excellence, artistry, and bravery in the face of the challenges we (and the ocean) are facing.

The setup in Monterey could not be any more perfect for such an event, including one evening that the Packard family, represented by Julie Packard, the Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, invited all the delegates to a private party at the Aquarium, one of the world’s best.

Visitor inspecting the large format prints at the Blue Ocean Festival Gallery

Of course there were numerous workshops about the fragile state of the ocean due to the phenomenon of plastics pooling and ocean acidity, and these two issues were also widely covered in various films. The movie “Bag it” about plastic and the harmful consequences of using it won the award for best in show…and it is indeed very well done and documented with humorous, smart and clear delivery.

Last but not least Jean-Michel Cousteau brought the house to tears as he celebrated his father Jacques Cousteau’s 100th birthday, and Dr. Earle celebrated her 75th birthday with us all dancing till the wee hours of the night and into the early morning…

Come to the Blue Ocean Film Festival next year…I would like to see you and yours there, you will not only enjoy the parties but be inspired – you will also learn much more than you think possible and have the chance to network and discover ways to make your own projects come alive…
See you in Monterey…and under the waves and among the Big Animals!

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