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Free Speech(es): 50 Years, 50 States, 50 Speeches

Fresh from the Eisenhower Administration era, your friendly neighborhood Ocean Doctor turned 50 today. In doing so, I outlived my father, William L. Guggenheim, who tragically died at 49 when he was lost at sea. It was my days as a boy, fishing with my dad off of Cape May, New Jersey, that I truly inherited his passion for the sea, and I feel lucky to have been able to spend much of my life near, in, or best of all, under the water.

To celebrate my 50th, I’d like you to send me on a journey this year, a journey to visit our next generation, in their schools, and share with them some of the awe and wonder of my experiences in the sea, including the important lessons that go along with them. So I’ll be donating one speech to one school in every state and U.S. territory (accredited schools, public or private, K through college level). I’m waving my speaking fee and travel expenses. I don’t require anything except an enthusiastic audience and maybe a glass of water. (I would encourage a class project to find creative ways to offset my travel’s carbon footprint to your school.) I’ll show my videos, share my adventures, and my enthusiasm for the wonder of the deep blue part of the planet.

I’ll honor the first request I receive from each state and U.S. territory (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa) and, of course, the District of Columbia. If you or someone you know would like to take me up on this offer, just fill out the Book a Speaker Form on the 1planet1ocean web site and indicate that you’re submitting the request for the “Free Speech” project.

I look forward to this adventure and wish all of you a happy 50th, whenever it arrives, or whenever it was.

Can Cuba’s Mysteries Help Save the World’s Coral Reefs?

Healthy elkhorn coral in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico (Photo by Abel Valdivia)Until that tranquil morning in late June 1974, the sum total of my SCUBA diving experience had been in a landlocked state, in a stifling, moldy indoor YMCA pool in the Philadelphia suburbs and a Pennsylvania quarry, flooded with icy soup-green water. Barely comprehending the new world of pungent humidity, mountainous afternoon cumulus clouds, and lush tangles of flowering succulents I experienced at water’s edge during my first visit to the Florida Keys, I was wholly unprepared later that morning when I found myself seated in sugar-white sand with 40 feet of warm, clear aquamarine water above my head. As impossibly multi-colored fish passed slowly within reach before my wide 15-year-old eyes, my gaze broadened as I marveled at the towering jetties of coral around us, living layer cakes of corals upon corals, brown and mustard rock-like structures, encrusted with brilliant red, violet and orange coralline fans and branches, swaying in the warm, nourishing current and, like eager spring blossoms, reaching toward the dancing sunlight scattered on the surface above. Read more

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