Hats off to the wonders of the digital age!
Today Chautauqua Institution will present the first-ever lecture to be streamed live from 60 feet under the sea in the Florida Keys to the Amphitheater.
Oceanographer, explorer and author Sylvia Earle was scheduled to be today's 10:45 a.m. lecturer in person. But when Earle was invited to join the 50th anniversary saturation dive to the Aquarius Reef undersea laboratory in the Florida Keys this week, she jumped at the chance, as she put it in an interview with National Public Radio.
That's where she is today.
Even so, the field research scientist and former chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is making good on her pledge to be the key lecturer today during Chautauqua Institution's "Water Matters" week. With her friend Barton Seaver, a chef, conservationist and National Geographic Fellow, standing in for her live on the Amp stage this morning, Earle will join the Chautauqua audience via a live-stream from the world's last undersea research laboratory.
We can certainly understand why Earle just could not pass up the chance to join the scientists staying at the bottom of the ocean. This dive, Earle told NPR, marks the 50th anniversary of when saturation diving was first pioneered by underwater explorers Ed Link and Jacques Cousteau.
This also might be her last chance to have an extended stay at an undersea research lab. Aquarius Reef is the last of about 50 such bases around the world devoted to scientific research.
''... and its days might be numbered," NPR reported yesterday. ''After some years of declining budgets, the Obama administration eliminated funding for the base, leaving its staff with just two options: Close up shop, or find their own money. Part of this week's mission is outreach and education aimed at helping save Aquarius Reef.''
By the way, you can read a transcript of NPR's entire piece on Aquarius Reef at www.npr.org.
Chautauqua Institution invited Sylvia Earle to be a featured lecturer as part of its joint effort with National Geographic to explore our world of water, ''locally and globally, from availability, conservation and health concerns to consideration of all living matter, with whom we share this essential, apparently limitless yet ultimately limited resource.''
How very appropriate that she will deliver her remarks from the bottom of the sea.