How Did You Start Researching Coral Reefs?
I can trace it back to my childhood, sitting on my grandfather’s lap in New York City, watching Jacques Cousteau every week. My grandpa was an old seaman from the Ligurian region [of Italy]—he was a navigator in the merchant marines—and he just loved the ocean. I was probably four or five years old, and I was thrilled to be learning about the ocean. All my degrees are in geology, but what I was most interested in even as an undergraduate student was the longer history of the ocean, and I eventually did a master’s degree at the Colorado School of Mines working on the Western Interior Seaway, which was the closest I could get to the ocean in Colorado.
What Do You Want Earthwatchers to Take Away from this Expedition?
Hope—I want them to leave and be advocates for the hope that we can reverse some of the declines that we’re seeing in any ecosystem. Being someone who grew up in the Bronx and moved to South Florida, and living on this Earth as long as I’ve lived—which is enough time to have seen the Hudson River [in New York State] go down and come back—I really would like for people, young people especially, to understand that we do have an important role in protecting the ocean and that we have a role in destroying it as well, and we need to really keep in check the things that we do in our daily lives that impact the ocean.