Suzuki Foundation

A lifelong love affair with the ocean

David and young Sarika

Dear Bob,

Dr. Sarika Cullis-Suzuki, David’s youngest daughter, is passionate about oceans — a love affair that started early. Her MSc on global fisheries at UBC’s Fisheries Centre culminated in a speech at the United Nations, where she revealed her shocking findings on the state of the high seas. Her work has taken her all over the world, from French Polynesia to the Gulf of Mexico, and she continues to fight to protect the oceans.

Dear Ocean.

You don’t know me, but I owe you everything.

When I was two, I learned to snorkel. That’s when I met you, face to face. You changed my life. I never looked back.

A few years later, I announced to my mom, “When I grow up, I am going to study the ocean. You can be my assistant.” I spent all my summers near you, playing in your company and learning all I could. You were always there for me.

In high school, people doubted us. They said following you would lead me nowhere. “There’s no future in oceans,” they’d say. I didn’t hear them. I knew we’d be okay.

But then I went to college and learned you weren’t okay. I found out you were sick. And worst of all: it was our fault. We took too much from you and used you as a garbage can. We didn’t understand you, and we took you for granted.

It broke my heart.

In grad school, I wanted to give up. What was the point? I wanted to help, I wanted to take care of you… but the scale of your challenges overwhelmed me. Where could I start? I was determined to be a voice. I published my research on you, and presented my findings to the United Nations. I studied your high seas, explored your coasts, completed another graduate degree to continue learning from you and became your outspoken advocate.

Dear Ocean, I have spent my life trying to get to know you, but there is still so much I don’t know. I will continue to work hard to understand your complexity and articulate your fragility. Thank you for your relentless generosity, your mentorship and, above all, your constant companionship.

Yours always,

Sarika

P.S. We invite you to fall (back) in love with nature this year. Join us in taking the 30×30 Nature Challenge. Share your own love letters to nature to inspire others and for the chance to win some great prizes!

 

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