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The bays of hope

Manhattan, aperitif time. An enthusiastic audience sits in one of the rooms of the Explorers Club on the Upper East Side to attend the inauguration of the Oceans Week supported by Rolex and to listen to one of the most important ambassadors of our seas, Sylvia Earle. Thus began the series of events that the Swiss brand has been promoting for eight years now to raise awareness in the world about the urgency of protecting the waters of our planet, amplifying the message of people like Earle throughout the world.

The Explorers Club has an exclusive address and an even more exclusive headquarters, full of memorabilia, relics of expeditions to the four corners of the world and beyond, given the moonwalks of two of its famous members Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but the requirement for part of it is not the money or even the fame. There they only accept people who have carried out great undertakings for the love of science and knowledge, in short, people like the eighty-eight year old Sylvia Earle, a sacred monster of oceanography and today very active on the environmental protection front. In her career she has investigated the remote depths of the seas all over the world, she has accomplished heart-shaking feats such as living for two weeks in an underwater structure together with other researchers, above all she has dedicated every single day of her life to the study of the seas and of the many species that live there.

Since 1982 he has been a testimonial for Rolex, while the relationship with the maison has deepened since 2014 when support came from Geneva for Mission Blue, the organization created by Earle himself to encourage everyone to take care of the sea. And even more so with the launch, in 2019, of The Perpetual Planet Initiative, a series of Rolex activities in favor of the Earth, including those of Mission Blue.

The evening in New York was the opportunity to strengthen the bond with Earle and with The Explorers Club, to which the famous watchmakers have long dedicated particular attention, having in the past asked the various explorers to bring with them a watch to test in extreme (two examples above all, the conquest of Everest in 1953 with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and the 10,916 meters of depth of the Mariana Trench, tackled outside the Trieste skirting board on which Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh dived in 1960 ). And by participating today in expeditions whose aim is no longer discovery in itself, but to raise awareness of the fragility of the Planet.

The Galapagos are one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet. ©Cristina Mittermeier

Earle, with plenty of energy and absolute dedication to the cause, the day before had visited one of the Hope Spots, literally the points of hope, that his Mission Blue is spreading around the world, working alongside local bodies and organisations. Shinnecock Bay is located about 120 kilometers from New York, in the Hamptons area to be clear, and there the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University has been carrying out an experimentation and research activity since 2012 which has been capable of solving a serious pollution problem: since the mid-80s the waters in the area suffered the worrying phenomenon of red and brown tides. The team led by Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch understood how the presence of molluscs and oysters could reverse the trend, thus creating protected sanctuaries of around one hundred thousand specimens each, scattered throughout the 9 thousand acres of open water. Result? The dark tides have disappeared, the quality of the water has returned to good and species of seagrass have reappeared, underwater plants capable of producing large quantities of oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in fact champions of biodiversity for how they provide food and shelter for many species. And it was at the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science that The Explorers Club delivered a particular object during the evening.

Malpelo Island is one of over 160 Mission Blue Hope Spots in the world.  ©Rolex Camilo Diaz

Malpelo Island is one of over 160 Mission Blue Hope Spots in the world. ©Rolex/Camilo Diaz

Flags for club members are a very serious matter. It is an honor to receive one to take with you on a mission, and then return it (with rare and unseemly exceptions!) to the Flag and Honors Committee who will then choose whether to allocate it to another adventure or put it permanently to rest. Pikitch and Sunshine Gumbs, representing the Shinnecock Indian Nation overlooking the bay, formally accepted the flag, ready to fly during the next phase of the water conservation mission, scheduled to begin in August.

Source: Vanity Fair

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