World renowned author and ecologist, Dr. Carl Safina joins us on the show today. His writing has won the MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. Safina hosted the 10-part PBS series, Saving the Ocean With Carl Safina. He holds the Endowed Chair for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University and is founder of the not-for-profit Safina Center.
On the show we dive into how a boy from Brooklyn became a world renowned ecologist and author, focused on saving the natural world. We take a peek into the commercial fishing world, and Carl shares a snippet from his latest book, including his time in the Caribbean studying sperm whales.
Song for the Blue Ocean
Sustainable Fisheries Act
PBS series Saving our Oceans
“Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel”
“What I Eat” by Carl Safina
The Safina Center
02:18 How even growing up in Brooklyn, NY, the natural world captivated Carl at a young age, starting with raising homing pigeons in the backyard.
4:55 upon learning that he wanted to work with animals, Carl’s high school guidance counselor advised him to go to agronomy school.
6:10 how taking a ride with a friend determined which college to attend, and what determined pursuing the master’s degree and PhD. It’s about knowing what he wanted to do (and what he didn’t), but not necessarily how to get there.
1:50 studying common terns and Black skimmers for his master’s degree and PhD, and the double edged relationship the drives their world.
13:05 what happened to the Bluefin Tuna? Delving into Carl’s book “Song for the Blue Ocean” and how it’s changed since the 1990’s.
20:00 how the US ranks in fisheries management. The fishing regulations were overhauled in the 1990s, the sustainable fisheries act was created, and the US is one of the best regulated fisheries in the world. Some of the fish that are really benefiting? Swordfish and white sharks.
23:05 “Sustainable means that you can keep [harvesting] without hurting the resource. It’s a matter of letting them breed before you kill them.” On sustainable fishing and why locally managed fisheries in the US is challenging.
29:35 “Beyond Words: what animals think and feel” thinking about animals more as other living creatures, and eating more mindfully. What eating mindfully means for Dr. Safina (he’s not vegan or vegetarian!)
37:10 Blue Ocean Institute becoming the Safina Center. In the course of 17 years, the focus has shifted from programs to creative products and broadened to include the whole globe, not just the blue part. What being a Safina Center fellow means and how to become one.
42:45 Dr. Safina’s new books coming out in 2020. One is a young reader’s adaptation of his book “Beyond Words.” The second is “Becoming Wild,” which is about the cultures of social non-human animals. Book is about how animals raise families, create beauty, and achieve peace. Carl describes a segment from the sperm whale edition of the book; they have a familial hierarchy similar to African elephants.
47:50 Carl’s methods for writing his books: always get into the field! The most magical part about Carl’s life.
50:10 One of Carl’s favorite field memories (and there are no bad days in the field!) from an island of albatrosses.
53:05 Advice for aspiring marine biologists or someone pursuing a career in the natural sciences. Ignore everyone that’s telling you it’s not practical and who tell you that you can make a better living doing something else. Make connections.
54:03 The only question that Carl hated this entire interview: “what is your favorite sea creature and why?” (but he did answer with three incredible animals!)
57:43 Not everybody can do everything, but everybody can do something. We make decisions everyday that can make big impacts.