We all could use a little more levity in our daily media consumption. The Walking Dead won't provide it, this election coverage sure as hell isn't the answer, and even football is an anxiety fest this year (see Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton). That's one reason we're so excited for the new season of The Aquatic World, a playful, light, and short (at just around 2 minutes each) series about the ocean, starring Philippe Cousteau, his wife Ashlan, and his Steve Zissou–inspired crew. This is not your typical serious-minded environmental documentary. Instead, Cousteau et. all offer a funny, self-aware introduction to wild marine life that happily takes us to a new world far away beneath the ocean — the only place that seems truly safe these days.
For the new episode of The Aquatic World with Philippe Cousteau, he takes his animated submarine to the Sargasso Sea. Never heard of it? The sea and its signature seaweed lie in the west Atlantic, above the Caribbean and off the coast of Florida, but far enough out that the Sargasso is the world’s only sea bounded by ocean currents instead of land.
“Many scientists call the Sargasso Sea a nursery in the open ocean, because it provides food and shelter for many of the Atlantic Ocean’s infants,” Cousteau says. Those infants include baby loggerhead sea turtles that swim there after hatching, but also eels, shrimp, crabs, mahi mahi, and marlins.
Despite the animated baby animals, the show isn’t all idyllic musing. Cousteau spots a plastic bag floating by, and lets out a “Sacre bleu!” The crew has found themselves in the midst of the North Atlantic Garbage Patch. “Trash from around the planet gathers here, thanks to multiple competing currents,” Cousteau explains. “It’s a human-made maritime disaster.”
Because it’s so far out in the open ocean, the Sargasso Sea is hard to protect. Unesco’s World Heritage Centre and International Union for the Conservation of Nature released a report this summer naming the Sargasso Sea and other unique spots on the high seas that they would like to put on the World Heritage List, but can’t because of current rules that countries have to propose their own sites. No country has jurisdiction to make the Sargasso Sea a preserve, but that doesn’t stop our trash from floating out to it.
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