Q&A: Alexa and Cindy BeMent - Oceana USA
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2009-04-17 00:00:00

Q&A: Alexa and Cindy BeMent

As I noted in the Scanner a few weeks ago, a shiny new ocean blog has arrived, and it’s written in part by a nine-year-old budding marine conservationist named Alexa. Oceans4Ever was created by Alexa and her journalist mom, Cindy. I recently asked the duo about how they got started:Q: Why did you start Oceans4Ever? What do you want to accomplish with it? Alexa: My mom talked me into it. She knows I love the ocean, that I want to protect it and that I want to tell the world. I want to show people that the oceans are important – and show them that without oceans, there’s no world.Cindy: I came up with the idea of a blog about oceans for Alexa late last year. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was time or not, but her passion for the Big Blue had already been growing for two-plus years, and showed no signs of slowing down. She really does want everyone to be interested in ocean life and health, and I just felt she needed a wider audience than just her friends, family and classmates. So, after consulting with a few fellow moms and getting some other trusted opinions, I decided to present the idea to her. It took, like, 15 seconds before I was getting enthusiastic nods as we discussed it over an after-school snack! She was already familiar with the concept of a blog, so that made it easier to explain.We’d really like to be a source for learning and getting excited about oceans, marine life and ocean conservation for all ages, but we’d especially like to interact with teachers and elementary-middle school classes around the world and find out how we can become a resource for them. Also, we’d like to become eventually become one of most engaging ocean blogs on the internet.Q: What do you think is the biggest problem facing the oceans? Alexa: That’s a hard one – I think pollution from trash, and oil spills. Cindy: I have to give two answers, according to what I’ve been reading about lately: acidification and debris. Alexa and I share the latter concern, and she’s helped deepen my curiosity and interest in helping raise awareness of plastic bag use, for one thing. There is a lot of bad news out there for ocean health, but I think that if more people, and especially young people, are made aware of issues facing oceans like they’re being made aware of land-based issues, that we can sort things out and act on behalf of oceans en masse – regardless of where we live geographically. All one needs to remember is that the planet 70% water, and 97% of that water is sea water. Those are huge numbers for anyone. Q: What’s your favorite ocean creature and why? Alexa: Manatees. They roll over in their sleep and float to the surface, they graze like cows all day, they’re playful and like to play follow the leader with the other manatees and they make cute squeaks as they swim. They’re so memorable and they really capture my mind. I know WAY too much about them, but that’s OK! I’d like to give you a short quiz on manatees (answers at the bottom): 1) Which one of these do manatees have at the bottom of their flippers?a. nailsb. fingernailsc. nothing at the bottom of their flippersd. hair 2) Which sea creature does a sleeping manatee make a good hiding place for?a. sea turtleb. little fishc. squidd. whales 3) What do manatees eat?a. other fishb. krillc. planktond. plants 4) How do manatees breathe?a. through their nostrilsb. through a blowholec. through gillsd. through their skin Cindy: I’m a huge octopus fan, I think orcas are incredible, but I have to say that my favorite sea creature is the biggest: the blue whale. In addition to their impressive size, we know so little about them – they’re shrouded in mystery, and they seem melancholy, too, if that makes sense. Part of it is that I want us to figure out how to alleviate the shipping lane dangers for blues and to make their world safer for them over all.Q: What inspired you to become an ocean conservationist? A specific place or experience? Alexa: I have liked the oceans for a long time. When I found out there were threats to the oceans and their creatures, I wanted to protect them. For example, when I found out about whaling, I was just so upset. I was 6 or 7 then. Cindy: I’ve always admired the diversity of oceans, and I love to snorkel and scuba dive. Alexa claims she barely remembers this, but when we were on a vacation in Mexico several years ago, all she wanted to do was “see the fish in the ocean.” When we finally did wade out far enough to experience a small but diverse population of fish swimming around us, she was enthralled as any child would be, but for the rest of that week, all she wanted to talk about was what they ate, where they slept and how they took care of their children. I kind of wondered then…and now, I love being able to help her expand her knowledge, spread her word and assist her in contributing to the ocean community at such a young age. She’s so focused, but takes everything in stride. Her passion and creativity are inspiring, and and I’ve realized that it can make a difference no matter her age. Why not give it some muscle? Lastly, there are a lot of supportive adult members of the ocean community out there that have embraced us, and we intend to give back as much as possible. (Answers: b, b, d, a.)