Morgan’s #take4Florida vlog. Our first HONORARY SEA PROPHET.
This is EXACTLY what we’re talking about when we say #take4Florida can make a difference.
Meet Morgan Knowles, our first honorary Sea Prophet. Morgan is a fellow graduate student of mine at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center and has been working tirelessly to spread the word of our mission. Here’s a recap of an interview we did with Morgan last week.
1) Tell me a little about yourself (degree/job/career-goals/etc.)
I am a born and raised South Jersey beach bum where my love for the sea blossomed from before I could walk. Growing up with Long Beach Island within a few miles, my job was getting as sandy a humanly possible before bedtime. Doing every water sport under the sun, digging for clams, and sand crabs, growing up a little and being a competitive lifeguard for Long Beach Island Beach Patrol for 8 years, you really get to know a lot about the sea and I wanted more. I then got my B.S. is Marine Science from East Stroudsburg University of Penn and currently getting my masters at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach FL. My research interests include but are surely not limited to: coral reef ecology, tropical reef fish, stony and soft coral identification, taxonomy, restoration, climate change, evolution of corals through geologic time, and outreach. I have had a few jobs here in South Florida (being a sea turtle specialist, marine benthic dive technician, reef fish counter, and coral nursery tank cleaner.) and they all are in different aspects of the field. I believe that being able to use my skills from each odd job makes me a well-rounded biologist. People ask me what do I want to do with my career, and my answer is always “Save the world one clam at a time”. I usually get some laughs and a “No really what do you want to do?” I know, it is a profound statement to make but for that one clam I did help, it mattered to him, and that matters to me.
2) What does the ocean mean to you?
It means many things to me: adventure, laughter, joy, curiosity, love, a place to relax, to exercise, explore, to clean, to surf, to dive, to eat, to study… the list keeps going. The ocean is life. It is our “lifeline” as Silvia Earle Marine Biologist Extraordinaire would say. “With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live. Most of the oxygen in the atmosphere is generated by the sea.” This is why I feel 100% obligated to do what ever I can to try and save it from it undeniable future. I mean, the ocean means the world to me, without it, not only would I have not had the most amazing childhood or chosen a career path before what I new what the word career was. I also wouldn’t have met the love of my life and fiancé, and be where I am today. And for that I am grateful for the ocean.
3) How did you hear about #take4Florida?
Fortunately for me I belong to the same Master Program that Katelyn Cucinotta belongs to. I believe I heard news of a new dive monkey in her lab and what she has accomplished with PropheSEA and she was immediately on my sights. I did my homework and met a few times at social gatherings and since then I’ve been on my way to joining the movement. Doing what I can, when I can.
4) What do you think about when you’re participating and you come across trash in, or near, our oceans? Is there any item that completely blew your mind?
It makes me sick to my stomach. My school is located at the mouth of Port Everglades. One of the most traffic riddled cruise ship ports next to Miami. This in itself creates an obscene about of debris that comes from those ships onto the beach and out in the deeper water. I get it, a blown napkin or scarf overboard is accidental and we all make mistakes, but I found the most bizarre and unsanitary things. I find the majority of trash in the high tide line on the sand but a decent amount I do find while diving including: hypodermic needles, flip-flops, tooth brushes, cell phones, feminine products, toys, knives, tennis balls, cigarette butts, lighters, shotgun shells, full shampoo containers, 50 gallon drum, beer bottles, weight belts, footballs, cutting board, plastic planter pots, silverware and A LOT OF plastic bottle tops.
Honestly I feel like nothing that I find on the beach surprises me anymore. To make matters worse these things land in a state park! John U. Lloyd State Park. Lucky for the ocean though, we have a huge new building full of marine biologist who care just as much as Kate and I and help do their part whenever they can!
5) Have you shared the #take4Florida initiative with any of your friends or family? What do they think?
I luckily have to ability to share everything I do via social media: Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, Youtube etc. I use my DSLR, phone and GoPro as much as I can to document everything I see. The use of the Hashtag is a brilliant idea being that todays idea skimming stems from a hashtag. It makes it simple to find everything attached to it (#take4florida) from everyone who is involved in one easy to see place. With that being said I have been an avid user of the hashtag and sharing everything I do on the internet with the #take4florida attached. This way, I hope people become curious about the hashtag with all my posts. If they don’t fully understand what it is all about they Google it and learn. I also have the surfboard #take4florida sticker on my car, Nalgene and stand up paddleboard paddle. Woo!
6) Do you have any recommendations for ways that we could reach a wider audience?
Everyone today is so Internet based and savvy with their devices, we can use that to our advantage. News on a celebrity gossip spreads like wildfire, so why can’t we use the power of social media to spread knowledge of our oceans the same way
7) Have you checked out PropheSEA.org and, if so, what do you think about it? Are you aware of the #FinBan4Florida initiative?
Yes and I believe it is a great initiative. There is a vast majority of people who in todays world finally know what shark finning is, but these people don’t realize that it still goes on every day and is still a major threat for the survival of many essential shark species everywhere.
8) If you had the chance to be on the Today Show (or Oprah, or Ellen, or even The Food Network, hahaha) and explain why everyone should get involved with PropheSEA’s #take4Florida initiative… what would you tell them?
I would say, take a look around you. What do you see? Skyscrapers, pavement, your computer screen? I mean REALLY look. Some birds, green plants, the sun, the clouds… all of these things made possible because we have a working ocean. The makeup you put on before work took people utilizing the oceans resources; like the air we breathe, the water we drink, the materials used from the sea like seaweed to make it. Oceans keep us alive. Now when you walk on your lunch break to the beach, go on a family vacation or go on your spring break to Key West, really look at the ocean. What do you see? Fishing line? Solo cups? A Frito bag floating in the surf with juvenile fish seeking refuge thinking it’s a patch of sargassum? The ocean isn’t as healthy as it was in the past and our daily habits and lifestyles affect the oceans life-support systems. It isn’t an endless kitchen, or unbreakable system. We are essentially pulling the plug on the ocean and leaving it to its own devices, trying to cope without the essential structures it need to thrive. We are polluting the land, the air and the sea, and the only way it can breathe on its own is to unclog the airways. Pick up our trash, shop wisely, and don’t waste water. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel its whether your willing to open your eyes and see it. This is what PropheSea does. They help shine the light on the issues, help open your eyes to them, and what we can do as a single human in this 7 billion + population to fix it.