Bringing the Ocean to Society
5 Jul 2018
EurOcean’s biggest event of 2018!
Check out what happened during our tribute to our founder and first President, Prof. Mário Ruivo.

Bozar Centre of Fine Arts, Brussels, 6 June 2018, 8 AM CEST. The whole team of EurOcean arrives at the beautiful Bozar building. The blue skies, the warm weather and the bright sun made us feel quite at home as for a moment it seemed we had not left Lisbon. And as soon as the first participants arrived, we knew that this was to be a very special day.

The Bozar’s Rotunda Room before the event.

This was not your ordinary conference. This was about celebrating a passion, a vision and an entire life dedicated to what is our working subject and our favourite environment, the ocean. Prof. Mário Ruivo was a true champion of the sea who dedicated much of his life to promote ocean literacy even before the term existed. Perhaps Prof. Mário Ruivo’s mission could be simplified to this: to put the ocean at the centre of our lifestyles and our policies. You can learn more about his life and his major professional and personal achievements here.

Everything’s ready.

The event’s programme was divided into four sections. First, we had those who knew Mário best telling us about him as person and why he was so devoted to the ocean. The second section was all about how inspiring the ocean is and we showed that through ongoing initiatives that were testaments to how Prof. Ruivo’s vision has been transformed into real actions involving researchers, communicators, private companies, NGOs and citizens.

Mário Ruivo was a man of action and so the third section of the programme featured demonstrations and exhibitions of activities that all have in common something that was quite treasured by Prof. Mário Ruivo: to know more about the ocean and to make more people aware of that knowledge. In the end, we wrapped things up with a final reflection on Prof. Mário Ruivo, the man and the visionary and our expectations for the ocean should we all come together again in 20 years' time.

Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Manuel Heitor, uses the event’s bag with a famous quote by Prof. Mário Ruivo to highlight how ahead of his time he was.

Mário’s wife, Maria Eduarda Gonçalves, was on her way to their daughter’s wedding two days later (yes… World Oceans Day…) but took the time out to tell us personal stories that only served to make us all admire even more the man, the researcher, the politician, the activist.

We told you... you were going to know Mário from who knew him best!

We have no doubts that all attending the event were deeply touched by Mary Morrison's words, images and poems. Mary is a teacher in the Outer Hebrides, in Scotland and she gave us the best possible example of the role of local communities in terms of having the public engaged in ocean literacy and the management and protection of their coastal zone and marine environment.

Mary Morrison just stole the show and took the emotional level to the roof.

Prof. Ruivo would have been nostalgic of his time spent at sea as Lennart de Nooijer described the NIOZ's NICO expedition and their recent discoveries about the changing ocean.

Lennart de Nooijer making us all wish to be on-board the NIOZ-NICO expedition.

Along the beautiful wings of the Rotunda room of Bozar, attendees were inspired by EurOcean's “Children's Art Contest” which was a resounding success with over 90 entries received from around the world. Attendees were the ones to vote on the contest. It was a close result but Avari Dipeshe, a 7 years old student from St. Julian's School in Portugal, got the most votes with the art work entitled “For me the Ocean is LIFE”.

If you were around the art works submitted by children from all over the world you would hear “wow” a few times and this fantastic collage was the crowd’s favourite.

Today We Have, a company based in Poland and a regular collaborator of EurOcean’s Member IOPAN, was at the event to premiere their 2018 I Live By The Sea photographic and video exhibition with entries from children around the world. By looking at the beautiful photographs, attendees could also “read” stories of how the sea is relevant to different people and communities. This year’s contest also included a film section and you should check out the three best entries on their facebook page. Here’s one of them.

The entrance wing of the venue where the I Live By The Sea exhibition was displayed.

But there was more. Everybody could dive back in time while looking at photos taken from the famous 1956 bathyscaphe mission in which Prof. Mário Ruivo became one of the first ever to go down to 2000 m depth off the coast of Portugal. The stories told say that there was not much space to move inside the submarine but our man managed to find room for a couple of chorizo sandwiches. Just in case!

The bathyscaphe used in Prof. Mário Ruivo's famous 1956 dive .

Speaking of getting underwater and jumping into a somewhat more modern marine technology, António Pascoal from Lisbon Técnico University went live to connect us to his team who show us the wonders of their latest Underwater Autonomous Vehicle (UAV). Mário Ruivo would have been very excited with this one.

António Pascoal about to take us under the sea without leaving Brussels.

And what about the portrait of Mário Ruivo created live throughout the day at the event by the passionate artist and marine biologist Cristina Otero?

We launched a challenge to Cristina Otero and by the end of the day everyone was surprised with the result.

The final panel expressed optimism that we can solve some of the problems that the ocean is now facing, starting with ourselves as examples of the change we want. Panellists said that Prof. Ruivo would have been extremely pleased with the idea of the UN Decade of Ocean Science (2021-2030), which will bring a focus to Ocean issues in the coming years. Finally the audience was left with the challenge to consider how we can all ensure a lasting commemoration to Professor Ruivo, potentially building on EurOcean's Professor Mário Ruivo Prize, to make sure we continue to disseminate his message to younger generations.