Over the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of being involved with a great deal of businesses and interacted with a lot of really great people.

I always find the interactions and the production of value to the market place to be rewarding not least on an emotional level.

However, there are some things that keep popping up giving me a sense of something that holds extra fulfillment and extra satisfaction. These senses get stimulated when I relive or think of something I did or still do, or was, or still am part of, that is really worthwhile doing.

One of these activities that I have had the pleasure of being part of (and still am active in to the extent I can be), is the activities of Project Baseline.

Project Baseline is a program designed to ensure a vibrant future by aligning advanced underwater exploration technologies with scientific research and empowered coastal communities.

It’s a global initiative with a presence currently in 27 countries that leverages a network of volunteers, collaborators and supporters to establish environmental baselines by creating a visual legacy of conditions in our oceans, lakes, rivers, springs and flooded caves. I helped co-found the local Gulfstream chapter.

Project Baseline’s vision is to effect positive change within the world’s aquatic environments, measurable in terms of improvement within our lifetime.

Effecting positive change often commences with raising awareness to current issues and bringing these in front of decision makers, policy makers and even into the private homes in the hopes of effecting everyday decisions and the choices we make in our everyday lives.

A very current example of raising awareness is that of the planned dredging project of the Port Everglades inlet that is scheduled to commence in 2017 and that will more than likely have just as detrimental effects on the natural resources as the disaster that was experienced with similar work carried out in Port Miami in 2014.

In particular two of the local projects of Project Baseline have raised awareness across the world.

One of them is the Osborne Tire Reef illustrated by the first image of this post (top of the post). Just a little bit off the coast of Fort Lauderdale about 2 million discarded old automobile tires were dumped with the idea of forming a man-made reef that would attract wildlife.

The project however, while well intentioned, proved disastrous as the tires, which were originally bundled together with nylon strips and some filled with cement, began to come apart and started to migrate. The migration especially would take place (still does) every time a storm would pass by the area. And storms are frequent in the hurricane season here in South Florida.

As the tires migrate they reach from time to time the natural reefs. There they smash into the reefs and on top of them, destroying valuable reef that is already suffering from other effects from human activities, such as the excess runoff of pesticides, fertilizers and the like from agriculture and homes.

The other project that has already received a lot of attention as result of us posting about it is that of the Hollywood Sewage Outfall which again we will find just a tiny bit off the coast of Hollywood, South Florida. Here a massive pipe pumps out millions of gallons of treated sewage water directly into the ocean (see image below).

As you can imagine the content of this outfall holds massive amounts of nitrate and the effect on the ocean and the ocean habitat is an over acidification and production of the wrong kind of algae just to name a few. It’s killing coral and pollution the wildlife.

The permitted discharge of the Hollywood outfall is 47.5 million gallons per day which is the combined permitted flow from Hollywood, Cooper City and Davie Wastewater Treatment Plants. This is the largest sewage outfall into the ocean left in Florida.

As I said, our efforts in raising awareness to these topics have proven successful and Newspapers, Reporters and websites all over the world has picked up our stories and made use of our images and videos. While it hasn’t solved the issues, nor stopped the current effects, it’s a step in the right direction.

Mikkel Pitzner and Project Baseline Monitoring The Hollywood Sewage Outfall

Not only has it been worthwhile effects, but it has also allowed me to combine several of my interests, not least my love for scuba diving, photography and much more. In addition it has brought me together with many fantastic people and cool toys (submarines and exploration vessels for example).

But more than anything, if these efforts can make a positive change happen it will be all worth it. There has been no compensation for the time of efforts put into this work, but it’s all worth it. It’s doing something worthwhile.

During some recent days (end of March 2016), a special event took place. It was a collaboration between Miami Waterkeeper and Project Baseline and its primary aim was to raise awareness of the important issues of the planned dredging work for Port Everglades inlet mentioned earlier.

Philippe Cousteau, grandson of famous late Jacques Cousteau, who is himself a film maker, explorer and advocate visited the event and came on board Baseline Explorer, the 146 foot exploration vessel of GlobalSubDive that my great friend, Robert Carmichael founded and operates.

Baseline Explorer is the perfect exploration and scientific platform for anything of oceanic endeavors and has served perfectly for several of Project Baselines projects.

While Philippe Cousteau visited he pointed out the vast differences in budgets allocated for Space exploration versus Ocean exploration. It’s an incredibly important message, so I will bring it here in full:

“Well, I certainly have heard of Project Baseline for a few years. I’ve read about it and heard about it in the press and the news and things like that.”

“I think that the lack of investment as a whole in ocean exploration is a disgrace and platforms like this [points to deck of Baseline Explorer] are absolutely critical and give me great hope because we have to understand what’s happening in the world.”

“The oceans are changing so rapidly often times before we even have any concept of what they were like, what they were supposed to be like, what their baseline was. Without that data, without that information we are incapable of really making informed decisions about managing these systems and trying to understand how they will change in the future.”

“I’m very concerned about the changing health of our oceans and the lack of investment in not only conservation but just pure science and education. NASA’s budget for space exploration is 4 billion dollars. NOAA’s budget for exploration is 26 million dollars.”

“What I always remind people is while I’m not against science and space in principal, knowing and understanding this planet is critical to life. Knowing if there was ever water on Mars does not mean one iota to any human being on this planet other than an intellectual and scientific curiosity. Protecting the water on this plant is vital to the survival of every single human being on this planet.”

“Oceans are the life support system of this planet and we understand more about the surface of the moon that we do about the bottom of our own ocean. That is criminal in my opinion. The disparity between investments in ocean research and exploration and space exploration is, I think an indictment of humanity, no less. The oceans are in trouble our world is changing. We don’t even understand how and why in many cases and again we continue to look up when we should be looking down.”

Please consider sharing this post as part of spreading the message of supporting something important. A lot of the problems of our oceans are below the surface and that means it’s out of sight and unfortunately also out of mind.

We need to change this. The oceans are suffering and they are key to our livelihood on this planet.

Please consider donating to the cause of Project Baseline and show your support of these worthwhile efforts.

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