Wednesday night I had the privilege of listening to some of the world’s leading conservationists speak at the Blue Ocean Institute’s fifth annual gala. Held at the Tribeca Rooftop in Manhattan, the event honored three environmental stewards: Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium; National Geographic Society explorer, Dr. Enric Sala; and Grammy-winning composer Paul Winter, who treated the crowd to a riveting live performance that ended with him howling like a wolf.
Other highlights of the evening:
*Dr. Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute, showed a clip from his new TV series, Saving the Oceans, which explores real-world examples of positive and constructive developments in ocean environments.
*The evening’s master of ceremonies Trevor Corson (occasional Iron Chef America judge and author of The Story of Sushi) threatened to perform a strip tease in order to get the bidding up for some of the night’s auction prizes. People started bidding before he could even get his shirt off. Corson seemed thoroughly amused (and flattered) when the fiercest bidding war of the night broke out for the chance to win a private sushi dinner for ten hosted by him.
*Guests got a sneak preview of the brilliant new sustainable sushi guides being published by Blue Ocean Institute, Environmental Defense Fund and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Each organization has developed its own color-coded consumer guide ranking popular sushi selections based on whether they are prepared using seafood that’s caught or farmed in ways that harm the ocean. Freshwater eel (unagi) and bluefin tuna (hon maguro/kuro maguro) are on the “red list” while wild-caught Alaska salmon (sake) and Pacific halibut (hirame) are identified as more sustainable choices. The guides will be available at each of the organization’s Web sites October 22.