At the age of 91, Sir David Attenborough lay down in the sand next to a giant nesting leatherback turtle — and his face says literally everything you need to know about how he feels about ocean conservation.
'Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet and never before have we had the power to do something about that. Surely we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet.' - Sir David Attenborough#BluePlanet2pic.twitter.com/x0egn2gVhk— BBC Earth (@BBCEarth) December 10, 2017
The expression in the veteran broadcaster’s eyes is half respect for the turtle’s majesty, and half disappointment that humanity has so spectacularly failed to protect the oceans and marine life.
His latest series, "Blue Planet II," has proved a vital tool in bringing plastic pollution and the damage it’s doing to the seas into the public domain.
Take action: Fight Waste to Protect Our Oceans
“The oceans are under threat now as never before in human history,” he said, in Sunday night’s series finale.
And, my word, that message really hit home, with Twitter users turning out to express their dismay at letting down this most beloved national treasure.
The main reason why I want to help the environment is because I can’t bear to see David Attenborough being sad #blueplanet2— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) December 10, 2017
Last #BluePlanet2 and it's the one where David tells us how disappointed he is with us. Feeling sad.— Nick Pettigrew (@Nick_Pettigrew) December 10, 2017
Nothing like ending a peaceful Sunday than losing the will to live because we all keep putting plastic into the goddamn sea #blueplanet2— Scott Bryan (@scottygb) December 10, 2017
The "Blue Planet II" series has focused on the changing nature of seas and oceans, and the impact that humans are having, including through plastic pollution, overfishing, hunting, and damaging tourist practices.
But, despite some of the episode’s desperate imagery of animals suffering because of the damage humans are doing to the planet — such as the albatross chicks being fed plastic by their parents — the series ended on a message of hope.
The episode told stories of conservation successes and its heroes, as Atternborough nudged us towards turning our feelings of guilt into action.
Viewers saw how overfished herring stocks and orca numbers have recovered off Norway, thanks to timely intervention; how giant leatherback turtles were saved from extinction in Trinidad thanks to education and careful management of tourism; and how whale populations have increased around the world since a hunting ban was introduced in the 1980s.
“We are at a unique stage in our history,” said Attenborough, in his summing up. “Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about it.”
“Surely, we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet?” he added. “The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”
And, if the Twitter reaction is anything to go by, Attenborough's gentle words could be a powerful rallying call for change.
There are around 13 million people that watch #BluePlanet2. Imagine if we all took a positive step tomorrow to helping save these creatures and our planet.— Jono Read (@jonoread) December 10, 2017
Heavy heart? Seen enough? Want to make changes?— #2minutebeachclean 💙🌍 (@2minbeachclean) December 10, 2017
It starts with us.
Pick up litter
No single use plastic.
Carry a bag.
No more take away coffee cups. Say no to a straw.
Together, with small changes we can do this. It’s our planet. There is no 🌍B
Percy needs us.#BluePlanet2pic.twitter.com/8AWqgjDhY4
If you were in anyway moved by #BluePlanet2 and you’re wondering what you can do to help our oceans and our future, here’s some small changes you can start making right now! #refusesingleusepic.twitter.com/B3zo1ljct2— Helen Gunton (@Helbell13) December 10, 2017
An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year, and by 2050, it is predicted that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.
In the UK, the amount of litter washing up on beaches has risen by 10% in the past year alone, according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).
At the MCS’ annual beach clean, which monitors the amount of rubbish on 340 British beaches, some 20% of the litter found was from “on-the-go” food and drink packaging, including cups, cutlery, plastic bottles, coffee stirrers, and sandwich packets.
Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including the goal to improve life below water. You can join us by taking action here.