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"What the Sea Can Teach Us About Our Relationships on Land"
Patxi Pastor

Visual images of the underwater environment and its inhabitants have proven to be an unparalleled means of illustrating the beauty and complexity of the underwater world.   These images place the wonders of the oceans within the reach of children and adults, and, more importantly, provide all of us with the visual experiences necessary to better understand marine organisms and the countless properties that make our seas a truly unique and special place.   By visiting the ocean through the lens of an underwater camera and witnessing the special relationship that exists between a diver and the marine environment, we can all relate the diver's experiences to own visitation of this magical world.

Clearly responsible for the creation of life on what is known as the water planet, water plays a crucial role on earth.   The magnitude of the seas and the countless ways in which water touches our lives through every extension of its pathways and physical changes reminds us many times each day of our inter-connectedness.   As beings made up primarily of water, we must remain mindful of our close relationship to it... We are water!

From the time water vapors greet the earth in the form of rain, every life form is in some way touched and dependant upon its arrival.   Crops depend upon the rain, the animals are nourished by it, the mountain streams are fed by it, the rivers are fed by the mountain streams and the seas are fed by the running rivers only to evaporate into the heavens beginning the process once again.   All life truly depends upon this vital resource.

Within the efficiency of our own creative genius, humankind has exploited the waters of the world and is certain to continue to use them as an effective means of discarding that which we do not wish, nor know how to deal with.   Trash, toxic and human wastes, pollutants and nuclear by-products are but a few of the harmful substances created in the name of progress and are disposed of daily into the marine environment.   All utilize water as a means of treating, manufacturing and discarding these dangerous substances.

Retreat to the privacy of our own homes where each day we routinely rinse substances such as industrial strength cleaners clearly marked, "Danger-Fatal If Swallowed" into our wash basins.   Imagine the journey these substances make.   Where are these fatally marked fluids going?   Perhaps the fish are the first to tell us as they display their disgust belly up in our nations waterways, the kidneys of our man-made living systems.   Certainly these and many other questions prompt children and adults to think differently about the ocean and its resources. Thoughts and ideas regarding how to deal with the growing environmental problems that confront our world must be addressed by today's generation as well as those of tomorrow.  

Within the convenience of each of our lives, our controlled environments and the man-made conditions in which we live, a look into a larger pond, quickly reminds us of our small relevance in contrast to the magnitude of our planet earth.   The immensity and beauty of our oceans quickly provides all of us with a better appreciation and a new found reverence for the life in which we are all a part.

The many underwater communities of the oceans and countless ways in which communication and cooperation are an integral part of what goes on beneath the waves all directly correlate to similar relationships we have on land.   The cycles of the sea, generating and regenerating the conditions necessary for life, can teach us many things, both about ourselves and the planet we share.   The partnership of anemone to coral banded shrimp, remora to spotted eagle ray, cleaning gobie to moray eel, all help to illustrate how ocean citizens have specific roles to play which enable underwater communities to function properly.   Every organism has a specific role and important function to provide in its community.   This niche usually provides a service that will enhance the community's stability and enable the individual as well as other animals to thrive.  

Perhaps our destiny lies in the effective interpretation and implementation of the cooperative messages so clearly displayed within the ocean ecosystems into our own society.   Relating these important relationships to the ways in which children feel about themselves, their family and their community has been the focus of my work with the marine environment.  

The ocean community is the largest in the world.   Governed by natural laws, the citizens of the sea know no political segregation.   My dream is to effectively bring this message to the children and families of the world, showing them the urgent need for communal respect on a global level.

© 1985 Patxi Pastor, All Rights Reserved

Patxi is pictured above during a dive as he says hello to children outside the tank as he feeds the sharks and eels at the Children's Museum of Connecticut in West Hartford, Connecticut in 1983.